Coaching great Williams keeping tabs on Raiders, granddaughter

Credit: Julio Cortez

Credit: Julio Cortez

FAIRBORN — Hall of Fame basketball coach Gary Williams was known for his competitive fire in his heyday — no one roamed the sidelines with more fury than him — but he hasn’t had a need for that manic intensity since retiring from the game.

He plays golf, lots of golf. And he stays active. He’s still employed at age 78 as the senior associate athletic director at Maryland, raising money for the athletic department.

But it’s a serene lifestyle. He’s gone from giving referees an earful to making small talk with potential donors. Big difference.

“There will never be anything like coaching. I feel fortunate I can still play golf. Not well, but I can play. It’s something you can still compete at — you just have to give me enough strokes,” he said with a laugh.

“But coaching is in your blood. I just try to make sure I stay under control at my granddaughter’s games.”

His granddaughter is Wright State’s Lauren Scott, a sophomore guard from Worthington, Ohio. And Williams, who lives in Potomac, Md., showed his support for the women’s team by playing last month in a fundraising golf outing for the program at Beavercreek G.C.

The only coaching he does now is attending Raider games or watching them on ESPN+ and passing along his insights to Scott.

“It’s been amazing watching her. She’s overcome an ACL injury. Seeing her being able to play is great,” Williams said.

“Lauren is not going to play in the WNBA or anything like that, so it’s a great experience at a very good school. She’s got the opportunity to really achieve academically. That’s not true everywhere anymore.

“Given what she wants to do with her life” — her recovery from her knee injury has sparked an interest in orthopedics — “this is a perfect situation.”

Scott knows all about Williams’ famous antics during games — tugging at his tie, flapping his arms and perspiring through his shirt.

But the man she calls “Granddad” is different away from the bench.

“He’s definitely gentler now,” she said.

Credit: Erin Pence

Credit: Erin Pence

He also knows his place when it comes to giving advice.

“He doesn’t want to step on any toes,” Scott said, meaning interfere with coach Kari Hoffman and her staff are doing, “but he’ll have individual notes on a notepad for me, and we’ll go over those after games.

“It’s a really great resource. I’m lucky to have him.”

Hoffman feels fortunate to have Scott, calling her “an incredible piece to our team from a put-your-head-down-and-work mentality.”

Scott played in all 32 games last season, averging 4.8 points. She had a season-high 16 against IUPUI to earn a Horizon League freshman of the week award.

“She does whatever it takes. She may be the most coachable kid I’ve ever had. It’s not a coincidence, coming from the heritage she comes from,” Hoffman said.

Before retiring in 2011, Williams had a successful three-year stint with Ohio State and won the 2002 national title with the Terps, making 17 NCAA tourney trips in all.

Though basketball hasn’t changed much between the lines, college sports have undergone a drastic transformation the last few years. And Williams feels as if he got out at a good time.

“I miss part of it, but I don’t like what’s going on now with the NIL and transfer portal and all those things,” he said. “I was looking at the Big Ten in men’s basketball, and you don’t know who’s on what team yet because everybody has changed teams.

“It’s tough on fans. It used to be getting a scholarship to go to college was a great thing. Now, it’s scholarship-plus. The upper-level teams have to pay their players. That’s just the way it is.”

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