A Wiz if Ever There Was
Perhaps it shouldn't be surprising that a player nicknamed the Wizard might be invisible at times, but Walt Williams, Maryland's 6'8" senior guard, has made himself one of the top players in the country, and almost no one has seen him do it. He has been on live network TV in a Maryland uniform only once in the last two seasons, and when the NCAA tournament begins next month, Williams won't be there. The Terps were only 10-11 at week's end but would be staying home regardless because they're under a three-year NCAA probation. Williams's play has been magical nonetheless.
Williams was always a fairly streaky shooter until he discovered earlier this season that he needed glasses. So the far-sighted Wizard was fitted for contact lenses, and presto, he went on the kind of scoring binge that is rarely seen in the ACC. He scored at least 30 points in seven straight games, one game short of the conference record set in 1961-62 by Len Chappell of Wake Forest. He made 33 of 58 three-pointers during that streak, which ended with a 21-point performance in a loss to Georgia Tech on Feb. 9.
Williams's decision to stay at Maryland may have shown farsightedness of another sort. When the Terps were hit with the NCAA probation two years ago, he could have transferred and played immediately at Georgetown, St. John's, Virginia or Georgia Tech, which were among the schools that expressed interest in him. He chose not to leave, in part because his family lives in nearby Temple Hills, Md.
The sanctions and a broken leg that forced him to miss 11 games last season have conspired to make the Wizard disappear from view, but he doesn't regret his decision to remain at Maryland. The NBA has certainly noticed him and will make him a first-round draft pick in June. Besides, says Williams, "a lot of players go through college not having any problems. It's like a fantasy. All the turmoil I've been through has made me a better man. I feel like I can take on anything."
Except maybe the loss of one of his contacts. Williams lost a lens the day before the Georgia Tech game, and although it was replaced before tip-off, the spell was broken. He then made only eight of 20 shots against North Carolina State last week. Coincidence? You decide.
A Man and His Horn
Minnesota has been tougher than anyone—except maybe the Gophers themselves—anticipated, with victories over Indiana, Michigan and Michigan State. Still, coach Clem Haskins hasn't exactly been all smiles. Even after his team atoned for its embarrassing 96-50 loss at Indiana on Jan. 9 with a 71-67 home-court victory over the Hoosiers last week, Haskins had a few gripes he wanted to air.
He obviously wasn't pleased that Malcolm Sims, a 6'4" guard at Shaker Heights ( Ohio) High, whom the Gophers had recruited heavily, had recently made an oral commitment to Indiana. Neither Hoosier coach Bob Knight nor anyone on his staff had seen Sims play in person, and Indiana recruited him merely by making a Hurry of late phone calls. That may have been the cause of Haskins's somewhat caustic comments after the Indiana game.
"If I toot my own horn tonight, I hope you guys [reporters) forgive me, but I have to," Haskins said. "Credit needs to go to my staff and Clem Haskins for doing one hell of a job."