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Terps coaches don't mind sharing their goals

May 07, 2008|By CHRIS CARTER

University of Maryland men's basketball coach pointed out a Washington County coaching legend in his opening address to Terrapin Club members Tuesday night at Fountain Head Country Club.

"This guy did just a tremendous job and for some reason he decided to retire, even though he's young," Williams said. "He's recovering from a rotator cuff injury that he says is from throwing baseballs. ... I think it's from throwing basketballs."

By the time Williams said those final two words, virtually everyone who sat before him knew the next words out of his mouth.

"Cokey Robertson."

Williams took time to appreciate the 70-year-old Robertson while speaking for about 15 minutes to more than a hundred Terrapin Club members during the annual Cumberland Valley Spring Outing.

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Robertson, who stepped down in March after 34 years coaching the St. Maria Goretti boys basketball team, sat at his table stunned after hearing the kind words.

"No," he said. "I didn't know he would say that."

After paying respect to a fellow member of the coaching fraternity, Williams eluded to matters red and white -- the Terps men's basketball team, which settled for an NIT berth last season and finished 19-15.

"Our team this year, the best way to describe it, is inconsistent. We were bad at the beginning of the year, then got good enough to beat the No. 1 team in the country," Williams said, drawing applause from the crowd. "There were about 12 games when I thought we could beat anyone. Then we weren't so good at the end."

Williams acknowledged the blow the team would suffer with the departure of three seniors -- James Gist, Bambale Osby and Jason McAlpin. But he showed hope in a trio of recruits -- 6-foot-10 center Gus Gilchrist, 6-5 forward Sean Mosely and JuCo 3-point specialist Tyree Evans.

"With these three guys, I think we have the opportunity to have a good team this year," said Williams, who exited stage right, but not before admitting a last objective.

"Myself, I have one more goal," he said, "that is to win another national championship."

Perhaps the goal is shared by women's basketball coach Brenda Frese, who was as optimistic about her incoming class of forward Demauria Liles, center Lynetta Kizer and guard Jackie Nared.

But they have big shoes to fill after the losses of seniors Crystal Langhorne and Laura Harper to the WNBA draft. Both starred for the winningest class in Maryland women's history.

The Terps were eliminated by Stanford in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament and finished 33-4.

"This season was truly special because what we had happen to us in one season, most coaches would love to have in a career," said Frese. "For us to go 21-0 at home was terrific. It meant a lot."

Frese had an especially unusual season after delivering twin boys on the day of a 76-69 win at Duke on Feb. 17.

"For whatever reason, the boys inside of me felt like they needed to come out on a win against Duke," Frese joked.

She will celebrate her first Mother's Day at Atlantic Coast Conference Meetings at Amelia Island, Fla., this weekend.

"We'll all be there together," she said.

Football coach Ralph Friedgen will be there, too. Friedgen, who spoke last of the three coaches Tuesday, made no secret his high expectations this fall.

"I think we have more talent, more speed, than we've had since I've been here," Friedgen said. "I told the guys to start thinking about an ACC championship, to start thinking about the Orange Bowl."

He justified those goals by pointing out nine returning offensive starters and the hiring of James Franklin as offensive coordinator. Friedgen also said that sophomore running back Da'Rel Scott reminds him of former Terp standouts Chris Perry and Chris Downs.

Still up in the air, though, is the most important position of all -- quarterback. The battle is between versatile Josh Portis, experienced senior Jordan Steffy and proven junior Chris Turner.

"Right now, no one has separated themselves," Friedgen said. "But I'm not going to wait very long (to choose)."

But the defense, which ranked 10th in the ACC last year, must improve.

"I'm going to have a hand in that," Friedgen said. "We're going to get that cleared up."

The Terps finished 6-7 after a loss to Oregon in the Emerald Bowl last season. They open the 2008 season against Division I-AA runner-up Delaware on August 30 at Byrd Stadium.

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