The comparisons were inevitable, I guess. Gary Williams, the beloved former UMD basketball coach (and alum), led the men’s basketball team to its only National Championship…ever. That, in itself, is enough to endear a coach to the school's fanbase.
Mark Turgeon is the new kid on the block, the somewhat surprising, questionable hire, who replaced the coach of the National Championship team.
Yes, the comparisons were inevitable, and in some ways, the two men are very different (while the situations regarding the beginning of their tenures have some similarities). Gary was known as a fiery coach, who wouldn’t hesitate the shout at his players during a game, even though the player(s) at whom his tirades were directed sometimes had nothing to do with the cause of the tirade. Turge is generally more under control on the bench. Yes, he’ll occasionally demonstrate his frustration, but rarely directs that frustration at any of the players (at least not publically). Which is better? That’s a question that’s open for debate.
What I’m trying to do is compare the first two years at Maryland for both coaches as objectively as possible.
Background: Gary was hired in June of 1989, leaving little time to recruit "his" players for his first season, and was saddled by NCAA sanctions incurred during the three-year tenure of his predecessor, Bob Wade. The Tarps finished 9-20 the year before Gary was hired.
Turge was hired in May of 2011, leaving little time to recruit "his" players for his first season. Gary resigned shortly after his leading scorer, Jordan Williams declared himself eligible for the NBA draft. The Terps finished 19-14 that year, but failed to make the NCAA tournament.
Inheritance: Despite the miserable record that ultimately led to Gary returning to his alma mater, the Terps had a handful of quality players, including Walt Williams, Tony Massenburg and Jarrod Mustaf. That trio combined to spend 28 seasons in the NBA.
The players Turge inherited, including the unquestionable star, Terrell Stoglin, has yet to earn an NBA paycheck. Alex Len, who was likely attracted to Maryland by Gary and his staff, became the fifth player chosen in the 2013 NBA draft after spending two seasons under the tutelage of Turgeon and his staff.
The first two seasons: In Gary’s first two seasons at Maryland, Gary’s teams finished 35-26 (.574), and made the NIT tournament in his first season, bowing out in the second round. The Terps were unable to return to a post-season tournament in his second season.
Turge’s first two seasons resulted in a 42-28 (.600) record. The team failed to attract a post-season invitation in his first year at the helm, but advanced to the semifinals of the NIT tournament in his second season.
Since this is just Turge’s second year at the helm, I’ll stop here. Hopefully, this is a fair (and somewhat comprehensive) comparison, and any subsequent debate can be based on a comparison of both coach’s first two seasons.