The dwelling can come now, a decade later. Friday marks the 10th anniversary of Maryland’s victory over Kansas in the Final Four, with Williams on the sideline and Juan Dixon at the three-point arc, with Steve Blake deftly handling the ball and Lonny Baxter anchored on the block. Two days later, the Terrapins beat Indiana to deliver their school’s only men’s basketball national championship.
None of the coaches from that team remain on the Maryland bench. Only two players — Blake and Chris Wilcox — remain in the NBA. Those Terrapins have scattered all around, from the Beltway to Florida and beyond, including all sorts of places abroad. They have had personal and professional successes, personal and professional failures.
The bookcases that line the walls of Williams’s living room are adorned with pictures of family, of the one grandson whom he held in his arms after he cut down the nets and the two grandchildren who weren’t yet born, a personal timeline. On the floor of the foyer, leaning unceremoniously against a wall, rests a piece of the court that is now named after him.
Ten years later, the memories of the Terps’ focused, never-wavering march toward the title remain vivid. It’s either a lifetime ago, or a blink.
“I can still picture us in the locker room,” said Drew Nicholas, back then a junior guard, now a veteran of several European professional leagues. “I mean, I’ve been overseas for nine years, had a pretty full career. That seems like a long time. But those memories are clear. Real clear.”
“When you start talking about it, it could be just yesterday,” said Blake, the reliable backup point guard with the Los Angeles Lakers. “It all depends on the moment. I feel old, sometimes.”
Blake is the father of three. Last month, he turned 32.
‘We wanted something more’
Some of the stories from back then are well known among Terrapins fans, told and retold over the past decade. The story of the 2001-02 season, though, really has to begin with the final game of the 2001 tournament, a wasted 22-point lead over Duke in the national semifinals, as heart-wrenching a loss as a program could endure.
“You lose one game like that your whole career, probably,” Williams said. “But we lost. And we come back to campus, and everybody feels sorry for you. Maryland had never been to the Final Four before, so I was very worried that was going to be enough for that group of guys.”
Williams and his staff planned to give the Terrapins two weeks completely off before they returned to begin offseason conditioning. But before that first week was over, his team was back in the weight room, on its own.
“That’s when I knew that that wasn’t enough, to get to the Final Four,” Williams said. “We wanted something more than that.”