The noise is what they will remember the most -- unbridled, bottom-of-the-gut hollering and yelping that went on for maybe five minutes after the final horn sounded.

Greivis Vasquez held the ball in his arms. Mouth agape, a primal scream came up from his innards.


He popped his sweaty mesh jersey from his chest, pointing to the "Maryland" insignia across the front.


The College Park crazies who rushed the floor screamed back. They became so unruly, in fact, that Gary Williams briefly interrupted his postgame, on-court interview to tame the young beasts.

Terrapins 89, Tar Heels 87.

Amid more pandemonium in the House That Gary Built, down went Roy Williams's fifth-ranked team and up went the program a good portion of America forgot.

Maryland, the head-down, reeling Terps who were 2-5 in the Atlantic Coast Conference almost exactly one month ago. Remember them?

No? Neither do they.

"I don't know if we believed we could be the team we are now, but coach did," D.J. Strawberry said after the most electrifying Terps victory in three years. "He always believed in us. He told us when we were 2 and 5, 'We're going to be a great team. You guys are going to regroup, get your confidence back, and we're going to find a way to be a great team.' I don't know if everybody in this locker room believed that at the time. But next thing you know, we get a couple wins, we start feeling good about ourselves and we start to become that team."

More than anything, last night in College Park was about the storm after the calm, the way in which a career yeller stopped screaming and started nurturing.

See, the genesis of the noise after Carolina crumbled -- losing a 12-point lead in the last seven minutes -- can be traced back to Gary Williams's quiet.

If you want to know where the long stares and missed opportunities from a club that looked destined for a third straight trip to the NIT went, you need to go back to late January, inside Williams's classroom.

"I saw them in practice," Williams said when asked what he saw that few outside the program did a month ago. "I saw them working every day and wanting to get better and staying positive. I knew this team could be something special if they could just see it themselves."

No more berating his big kids with bad words for not blocking out. No more laying into his freshman guards for freshman mistakes. He didn't cut out the harsh criticism when it was needed, but his players say Williams began talking to them and explaining things to them in a way they do not remember during a slump in their Maryland careers.

"I was actually kind of surprised," Parrish Brown said. "He just got calmer."

"Practices were a lot calmer," Bambale Osby said. "It sounds kind of backward, because you think of all the coaches in the country who yell and scream when things go bad with their team. But Coach Williams never did that. When we started losing is when he kept telling us everything would be all right. I know for myself, that was big, because I felt I could play more freely and stop worrying about what I wasn't doing. I've been working on relaxing my body more in the game, and that whole calmer approach is working."

More than anyone, Vasquez has benefited from a more genteel Gary. Apropos, no? Vasquez is the high-strung emotional kid who has been told that he reminds people of Williams, the hair-trigger, intense player from 40-odd years ago.

"I was out of control, doing dumb things on the court and getting too carried away with my emotions," Vasquez said. "Coach Williams talked to me. He took me aside. He calmed me down. He gave me confidence. I love Coach Williams. Everything he does for us. Everything he do for me."

Did you see this game? Mike Jones making every money jump shot imaginable in the final minutes. Strawberry jack-knifing through the lane, pump-faking the entire Tar Heel frontline into the air, until he could create enough space to hit a little floater inside the key. Eric Hayes distributing the basketball, waiting for Jones to curl perfectly around another screen, square and fire.

After the Terps beat Clemson, it was written in this space that they were tournament-worthy, that they had something Williams's last two teams sorely lacked: a togetherness and a desire that compensated for the lack of any blue-chip, take-over-the-game lottery pick. That they were able to realize that in themselves is a testament to Williams's coaching the last few months.

Vasquez was herky-jerky, unpredictable, all over the map -- the Latin John Starks. He could trigger a 10-0 run one minute and detonate the game with his carelessness the next. A lot of yellers and screamers in the game would have worn Vasquez out, telling him how stupid and costly his mistakes were. Williams did none of the sort. He spoke to the kid, grounded and centered him, got Vasquez to realize the player he could be just as Williams got Maryland to realize the team it could be on a snowy and slushy Sunday night in deafening and noisy as can be College Park.

"That's as loud as Cole ever was," Williams said, proudly, referring to the legendary arena his national championship team closed in 2002. "That was Cole. Right there."

And that was Gary Williams, right there, the serene man in the middle of the madness of another signature Maryland victory. In the middle of the storm -- after the calm.