March 29, 2023

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Maryland hires Kevin Willard as new men’s basketball coach

Maryland hires Kevin Willard as new men's basketball coach

Willard has signed a seven-year contract that starts at $3.9 million this season — more than Turgeon made $3.3 million — and increases by $100,000 each season, according to a school spokesperson.

Willard collected a record 225 to 161 at Seton Hall, and the 46-year-old also served as head coach at Iona for three seasons and as an assistant at Louisville. During Willard’s tenure at Seton Hall, the Buccaneers reached the NCAA Championship five times but advanced to the second round only once. This season, Seton Hall earned the No. 8 seed and exited early with a 69-42 loss to No. 9 TCU in the first round.

“Growing up and coaching in the area, I have always loved basketball in Maryland. His appointment as head coach for one of the nation’s premier basketball programs is a great honor,” Willard said in a statement from the school. [Darryll] Bynes and Damon Evans for trusting me to energize this proud program as we look to motivate our enthusiastic fan base with a brave, hard-working basketball style.”

Willard’s Seton Hall best team lost their chance to advance in the NCAA Championship, possibly as the No. 3 seed, when the 2020 Postason was canceled due to Corona Virus pandemic. Seton Hall won the Big East Championship in 2016 and shared the regular season title in 2020. His Seton Hall team has finished no less than 20 wins seven times, including a record 21-11 this season. The Buccaneers faced Maryland in December 2018 and December 2019, with Willard’s teams winning both times. Those games were part of non-conference lists that often included matches with major conference programs.

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Although Willard has not led a team to a deep postseason race, it is assumed that Maryland State is hoping that greater resources in the Big Ten and a fertile local recruiting area will allow him to do so at College Park.

“We are excited about the future of basketball in Maryland as Kevin leads the way,” Evans said in a statement. “…He is used to scheduling challenge opponents and winning those matches as evidenced by his record against Big Ten teams in recent years. He is familiar with the area, being a Native New Yorker and has spent most of his life in the Northeast Passage.”

Evans said the expectations in Maryland are to compete for the Big Ten and national titles, which is what the fan base has been craving since Gary Williams’ retirement. He led Turgeon Terps to the joint Big Ten regular season title but no further than the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Championship. A Sweet 16 appearance in 2016 – the season Maryland climbed to number two in an Associated Press poll – was the only time the show had achieved that far in the post-season since 2003, a year after Williams won the 2002 award National title.

Turgeon teams sometimes caused uproar and generated lofty expectations, but a lone conference title and an NCAA tournament that didn’t usually run past the event’s first weekend left Maryland fans wanting more.

Even like Turgeon Agree to extend the contract Entering his eleventh season with the Terrapins, the athletic department has not offered strong support to the coach, leaving his long-term future in Maryland in doubt. The new contract signed last season is structured in such a way that it doesn’t strain Maryland too much financially if it wants to move on from Turgeon.

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Terps’ disappointing 2021-22 season ended with Loss against Michigan State In their first match in the Big Ten, they set a record losing streak for the first time since 1993.

Although the Terps (15-17, 7-13 Big Ten) struggled, Maryland still had talented players on his roster — particularly rookie seniors Donta Scott and Hakeem Hart, along with starting heart Kdous Wahab and Julian Reese, from Baltimore residents finished their new season. Training changes often coincide with a massive turnover of the roster, but if these top players choose to stay in Maryland, it would be a huge boost in Willard’s rebuilding process. Otherwise, Willard will need to find ready-to-play transitions.

Willard is known as a coach who can develop players. During their time at Seton Hall, both Myles Powell and Sandro Mamukelashvili turned Big East Players of the Year. Willard didn’t attend great recruiting classes, but he built championship teams consistently. In Maryland, he should be able to attract players of a higher caliber, and he will need to recruit well to keep up with talent in the Big Ten.

Given the odd timing of Turgon’s departure, Evans had more than three months to enlist the help of a search firm to gauge the candidates’ interest and identify the right coach. It has come to Willard, who will inevitably be given time to implement his vision of the program. But then, he’ll need to live up to expectations unfulfilled here two decades ago, and raise Maryland once again toward national fame.

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