Friday, December 9, 2022

How Damon Evans is choosing Maryland’s new basketball coach

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Mark Turgeon, the earlier coach, held onto a fraying relationship with the varsity, and discontent from a phase of the fan base grew till he stepped down in December, eight video games into the 2021-22 marketing campaign. After that, the Terps navigated a season in limbo below interim coach Danny Manning, a longtime buddy and former teammate of Turgeon who joined this system lower than a yr in the past. The gamers clawed again from large deficits and picked up a pair marquee wins, however principally, these video games felt like comparatively inconsequential moments separating this system from the beginning of its subsequent period.

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Turgeon’s early season departure left Evans with an atypical hiring timeline. Since December, he’s recognized he wanted a new coach this offseason. That lengthy runway, Evans stated, has provided loads of time for analysis but in addition results in months of hypothesis from impatient supporters. Maryland employed Parker Executive Search, an Atlanta-based agency, to help with the method, and that group has been capable of gauge curiosity of candidates and get in touch with their representatives.

“I feel like I have a good sense of who might be interested in the job,” Evans stated in an interview final week. “Nothing’s 100 percent. There’s a lot of things that you have to work through.”

He needs to speak with coaches who he is aware of are “sincerely interested” within the job and there’s a “high likelihood” that they might settle for the place, quite than candidates who’re utilizing this opening as leverage to obtain a increase or extension at their present college. Evans stated he intends to maneuver rapidly with the rent.

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“We’ll see when individuals that we’re interested in start falling by the wayside in the tournament,” he stated. “And you want people to go far, but my job is to make sure that I can get with those individuals as soon as possible and identify the right coach.”

The purpose for the way forward for this system is to constantly compete for Big Ten and nationwide titles. Turgeon left Maryland throughout his eleventh season on the helm. In that point, he compiled a 226-116 file, together with 5 NCAA event appearances. The Terps superior to the Sweet 16 solely as soon as and by no means made it additional. Turgeon led his 2019-20 staff to a share of the Big Ten common season title, however he misplaced the chance to make a event run when the postseason was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In latest years, Turgeon constantly constructed event groups that landed close to the highest of the convention. But disgruntled followers believed that wasn’t sufficient, and Evans’s expectations for the subsequent coach point out that he agrees.

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Through the teaching search, Evans has stored a decent circle of confidants, and he stated, “No one, at least to my knowledge, really knows where I’m headed or what we’re thinking.” Former coach Gary Williams, who led the Terps to a nationwide title in 2002, nonetheless works within the athletic division. When requested about Williams’s position within the course of, Evans simply stated that Williams is somebody he has talked with.

When Evans speaks with folks invested in this system, he stated he asks extra about their expectations and the traits of a really perfect coach, quite than gauging their curiosity in particular candidates.

“I can’t get caught up in trying to do something that’s flashy or splashy for the fans,” Evans stated. “Do I hope that the fans like who, at the end of the day, I decided to go with? Of course I do. But I have to take a hard look and say, ‘Does this individual meet the criteria? And can this individual get us to the mountaintop?’”

Iona Coach Rick Pitino — who has twice led groups to a nationwide title, together with Louisville’s 2013 championship, which has since been vacated — wrote on Twitter that Maryland’s subsequent coach “will not be me,” following hypothesis round his candidacy for the place. Other outstanding coaches, together with Bruce Pearl at Auburn and Andy Enfield at Southern Cal, have signed contract extensions that seemingly take them off the market.

Maryland has the sources to pay a “very, very competitive” wage, Evans stated, referencing Turgeon’s extension signed final offseason that might have paid the coach $3.3 million this yr. Turgeon had been among the many prime 30 highest paid coaches in USA Today’s most up-to-date faculty basketball wage database. Maryland nonetheless owes Turgeon a buyout of $5 million, which will likely be paid in installments by way of the top of his contract in April 2026. The funds lower if Turgeon begins one other job in basketball.

Evans stated he is in search of a coach who might be the “the CEO” of this system, hiring and managing the suitable personnel. He needs somebody expert in X’s and O’s, growth of gamers and recruiting. When he watches video games, Evans pays shut consideration to how groups play out of timeouts.

It is “crucial,” he stated, that the subsequent coach can construct relationships with native highschool and AAU coaches, significantly given the expertise on this space and the powerhouse Washington Catholic Athletic Conference. If the pinnacle coach doesn’t have ties to the D.C. space, he would want to construct a workers that may fill that void.

And Evans needs “someone who wants to be here for a long time and understand that Maryland is a top-20 program and can build off that rich history and tradition and to embrace this fan base,” he stated.

Evans admits that successful in any trend is a strategy to interact the followers, however he stated type of play is necessary. He additionally understands the enchantment of high-profile nonconference matchups, citing Michigan State as a staff that has constructed enticing schedules. Even with a balanced slate that permits for growth, “there’s plenty of room in there to play some very, very good teams,” Evans stated. “And those are my intentions moving forward.”

Maryland is one of many solely main convention faculties and not using a separate observe facility, though plans to construct one have been introduced in October 2019. Evans stated that the athletic division has raised about $37 million of the challenge’s $40 million price ticket. He has confidence that “we’ll close this and that I’ll be able to tell the new coach that we’re going to move forward,” he stated.

The Terps have solely superior to at least one Sweet 16 since 2004, however Maryland can nonetheless lean on its custom and success below Williams and fellow Hall of Fame coach Lefty Driesell. The younger era of followers have grown up in a time through which Maryland usually hasn’t been far more than a first-weekend staff within the NCAA event. So there is an urgency to herald a coach who can elevate this system and create new recollections. Evans needs followers to really feel happy with this system and engaged in Maryland basketball year-round.

“That’s what we need to do,” Evans stated. “And we need to do that because that’s what we owe it to the people who have come before us, the Gary Williams of the world, the Lefty Driesells of the world, the players that put it on the line for us. It’s time for us to get back to where we rightfully belong.”





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