Maryland champs

Team, coach, claim NCAA men's basketball title

By Paul Newberry

Associated Press

ATLANTA -- The white-haired little boy skittered around the court, oblivious to the whole celebration. Gary Williams scooped up his grandson, looked into his eyes -- and smiled.

The coach could relax. Finally.


The Maryland Terrapins had their national championship. Finally.

"I've never done this before, so I'm not sure what I'm supposed to be like," Williams said. "I'm very happy. It's a thrill, there's no doubt about it. But I'm really tired."

No wonder. He kept coaching right to the end, long after Maryland secured a 64-52 victory over Indiana in the men's basketball title game Monday night.

The tie was askew. The arms were flailing. The voice never wavered. After 24 years of coaching -- and Maryland's history of scandal and disappointment -- who could blame him for taking no chances?

"If you're going to be a good basketball team, you have to play every play," Williams said. "We don't want to waste any plays."

This team, led by seniors Juan Dixon, Lonny Baxter and Byron Mouton, had no intention of letting that happen. Not after the disappointment from 366 days earlier, when the Terrapins squandered a 22-point lead in the Final Four against eventual champion Duke.

"People asked me if the Duke game was on my mind," said Baxter, who scored 15 points and grabbed 14 rebounds. "I was like, 'No, it won't be until I win a national championship.' "

In other words, the Terrapins (32-4) never really forgot. Their game plan was simple: Get back to the Final Four, win two games, cut down the nets -- put that bitter defeat behind them.

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