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Maryland Coach Gary Williams, Michigan State Coach Tom Izzo continue to run their programs the right way

After an opening victory over Houston, the fourth-seeded Terrapins' season ended on a buzzer-beater against Michigan State in the second round.

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By Mike Wise
Sunday, March 21, 2010

SPOKANE, WASH.

There is something wrong when Gary Williams and Tom Izzo have a loser-go-home game this early in the NCAA tournament.

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One team's followers will be crushed when Sunday afternoon's game is over. Everyone in college basketball will be worse off.

Upperclassmen instead of children lead their teams at Maryland and Michigan State, and the men in charge, who seem mostly uninterested in securing the fleeting services of the next one-semester wonder, are almost ghosts in the profession.

"You never hear Tom's name mentioned when you hear whispers about someone, you know, 'This guy cheated,' " Williams said late Friday night after his 10th straight first-round victory in the tournament. "You never hear Tom's name in that conversation."

Said Izzo: "I think [Williams] does it the right way. I think we all know there's a lot that goes on in college basketball. I know that's not what they do there, and it's not what we do here. Consequently, if that's called old-school, new-school or the right school, it is what it is, and that's why I've always respected the man."

In an essay on Kentucky Coach John Calipari entitled "The Sleaziest Coach in a Sleazy Game," Charles Pierce wrote, "Anyone who follows college basketball sooner or later develops a kind of ethical dementia."

He's right. No one is entirely innocent. Like the criminal defense attorney who knows his client is guilty, doing your job can supersede doing what's right to have your school's name called on Selection Sunday.

While explaining how John Thompson III might never be able to rely upon the senior-laden teams his father used to nurture at Georgetown, Billy Packer told me last week that Big John hardly had to make Faustian bargains with his conscience or ask himself the question his son and other coaches of big-time programs ask themselves today:

"Am I ready to understand the new world of putting a program together that's going to involve the one-and-done player?"

"Unlike his father, who could build his program with sustainable four-year players, young John has to essentially say, 'What do I do?' " Packer said. Greg Monroe "ended up staying. But at some point soon, this is the question: Is Georgetown the kind of school and is John the kind of guy who will recruit the one-year player? I think not."

Williams, 65, and Izzo, 55, already have answered that question the past decade.


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