A handful of former Terps basketball coaches and players popped into an old classroom-turned-press conference space upstairs at Cole Field House before Friday night's Madness events -- the 42nd annual.
The alumni speaking before the event: Men's coaches Gary Williams and Lefty Driesell, women's coach Chris Weller, women's forward Vicky Bullett and men's forward Walt Williams. Here are some highlights of what they said:
Upon taking his seat, Williams' first remark was "It's great to be back in Cole." He gave a fairly full-throated endorsement of the Mark Turgeon-backed idea of playing an annual game at the old arena, perhaps over winter break. He also said he would like to see the athletic department put a Maryland basketball program hall of fame somewhere in the building.
Asked if he had any special anecdotes from his days playing and coaching in Cole: "I was the best punter on the basketball team," he said -- a referencing to friendly basketball-punting competitions players used to have, when they would try to punt from the arena floor to the scoreboards beyond either end zone.
Weller offered a neat anecdote of her own: In the early 1980s, she said Driesell filled in for her women's team during a scrimmage. She called for a big, tall left-hander, and Driesell stepped in with her players.
Driesell also supported more regular games in the field house, but he aired one particular grievance about the Madness event today: It's not at midnight. Driesell, of course, is the coach credited with starting the midnight madness tradition that has since swept across college basketball while he was in College Park. Students are beginning to "get right" at that hour of the night, he deadpanned, and it built a lot of excitement to hold the event at a later hour.
"This was my life for 17 years," he said.
There wasn't much news of significance at the brief availability. Mostly, former Terapins expressed a lot of joy about being back in a building where they had stacked up so many memories. Williams was pleased to be back, though, like Driesell, he said he missed the "excitement builder" of a midnight event."
"This building has a lot of history," he said. "It definitely shouldn't be forgotten."
Bullett said she looked forward to seeing this year's women's team, particularly senior Alyssa Thomas. Williams said the same about the men's team, predicting strong wing and guard play.