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North Carolina coach Roy Williams believed in Maryland's Mark Turgeon all along

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Before Maryland's fast rise, lots of people doubted Mark Turgeon. The Tar Heels coach was never one of them.

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The last time Maryland and North Carolina met on the hardwood was Feb. 14, 2014. Things were different then. Maryland was an ACC mediocrity struggling through a lame-duck season before heading to the Big Ten, and Mark Turgeon was languishing around .500 and beginning to be the subject of calls for his job.

One person whose belief in Turgeon never wavered? North Carolina coach Roy Williams, under whom Turgeon coached as an assistant at Kansas from 1988 to 1992.

With Maryland about to face North Carolina on Tuesday night as the No. 2 team in the country, let's hop backwards for a second.

Via Jason Reid in The Washington Post, here's what Williams had to say about Turgeon while the Maryland coach was in the midst of his second NCAA Tournament-less season in two tries.

"Mark has done a fantastic job," said Williams, who between phone calls uses game video and the Internet to keep up on what's happening with his friend's team.

"The fact that some people don't see it . . . they don't realize what college basketball is about. He's done a great job with some things going on with the program."

...

"It's not what Turge thought it was going to be," Williams said. "I'm shocked by the whole thing, Maryland leaving, but it's the scene. It's the culture that we have in college athletics today. There could be three more different leagues next week that we don't even know about right now.

"But Turge had no control over it. He understands that. He's going to put his head down every day and try to do the best job he can for the University of Maryland. That's what you have to do as a coach."

Maryland finished that season with 13 losses. The next season was even worse, with Maryland going 17-15 and missing the tournament for the third time in a row under Turgeon.

After North Carolina beat Maryland in a blowout in February 2014, here was Williams, again, on Turgeon:

"That guy who coaches on the other bench is a big-time basketball coach and is one of my favorite people in the world," he said.

Williams and Turgeon go back a long, long way. Williams is a surefire hall of fame head coach, and it turns out he's got quite the eye for talent – even when the rest of us have a hard time seeing it.

"You know what?" Williams asked, in Reid's 2013 Post article. "Mark is a marathon runner. He's in this for the long haul."

Roy Williams was right.