The 2002 Maryland men's basketball national championship team gets in-depth treatment in a new documentary from the Big Ten Network, out on Saturday night.
Big Ten Elite, the network's series on historic teams from league history – even though Maryland was in the ACC in 2002 – examines Gary Williams's national champions and features interviews with a handful of players. It airs on the network at 9 p.m. EST, or as soon as Maryland's current basketball team is done playing Princeton in Baltimore.
Given Maryland's current national title ambitions, BTN saw it fit to run with this idea now. Producers interviewed Williams, Juan Dixon, Walt Williams, Lonny Baxter, Chris Wilcox and Steve Blake.
The show covers the program through Williams's assumption of head coaching duties in 1989, as he guided the program through the sanctions that resulted from Len Bias's death from a cocaine overdose in 1986.
"That was probably the low point in Maryland athletics," Williams said in an interview. He added, "It was very devastating. It devastated the school. It really hurt. Maryland has always been a proud basketball school, and it hurt a lot of things. The biggest thing we had to do was make people believe in Maryland basketball again, and that it could be an important part of the university."
Williams, who does spot work with both ESPN 980 and Washington in the Big Ten Network, said he appreciated the chance to get back into his 2002 team.
"I don't mind looking back. The national championship will always be special. The players on the team, any time you have a team like that, that wins everything, it's a special team," he said. "You take special people to do that, so I enjoyed thinking back on that particular team."
For those Maryland fans who were watching when the Terps made their back-to-back Final Fours in the early 2000s, this is a pacy, nostalgic yet heart-pounding look back. For those who weren't, it's educational. For Williams, it is, too.
"Basketball's not a perfect game, so there's always things you see when you look at an old game tape or whatever, things you could've done differently. But basketball is a funny game," Williams said. "The teams that are most consistent usually are the best teams. You have to have a certain level of talent. That team was a very talented team, but we consistently played pretty good defense. We ran good offense most games."