Monday, November 19, 2012
How move affects Maryland hoops
By By Andy Katz ESPN.com
Mark Turgeon wanted a destination job when he left Texas A&M a year ago -- and he got one at Maryland.
But a year and a half into his tenure, he also got quite a curveball thrown his way: The Maryland Terrapins, charter members of the Atlantic Coast Conference, are headed to the Big Ten.
While he was initially skeptical, Turgeon says he's now fully on board with the school's decision to move to a new league for the 2014-15 season.
"It doesn't change a thing," he said by phone Monday. "We're going from one great league to another. I don't see a dramatic change. We're still trying to recruit the best players we can at the highest possible level. We're just going to be in a different league in a couple of years."
Maryland has a rich ACC history. The rivalries with NC State, Duke and North Carolina, along with neighboring Virginia, have had their years of national significance.
The court named after Gary Williams will soon host Big Ten basketball.
Now those will all likely die, with the off chance one of them could reappear in an early-season tournament, the postseason or maybe in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
That does still mean something.
"My memories of playing and coaching are with the ACC," said former Maryland coach Gary Williams, who coached the Terps to the 2002 national title and consecutive Final Fours in 2001 and '02. "Our fans' best memories are with the ACC. And anytime you disrupt that, it's not easy for anyone."
Nevertheless, Williams coached in the Big Ten at Ohio State prior to landing the job at his alma mater and he does understand the appeal.
"The ACC isn't the same conference as it was in 2003 [prior to expansion]," Williams said. "It was the best basketball conference, but now there is an argument. Things change. The university is going into a conference that has similar major state universities. We're able to bring our football situation where it will help in recruiting and attendance at games."
Williams said he doesn't see Duke or Carolina scheduling Maryland in the future.
"Just like Nebraska doesn't schedule Texas or Oklahoma in football now," he said. "You're talking about 2012, not 2000. There has been a cultural change in college sports. We were never Carolina's or Duke's rival. They had each other. I'm sure there will be great games with teams in the future in the Big Ten -- starting with Indiana."
Speaking of Indiana, Hoosiers coach Tom Crean said Monday that this was a win-win for the Big Ten.
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"I think it's fantastic," Crean said during a shootaround at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, in advance of Monday's game against Georgia. "Selfishly this will be great for our recruiting since we recruit a lot of kids in the area. Now we can build in a trip home depending on how the schedule shakes out. This is the way it is in college sports. The Big Ten has always had a business plan and it is following it."
Turgeon and Williams said the recruiting aspect of the move will have zero effect. Both said that schools from all over the country have consistently recruited the Washington-Baltimore area anyway, regardless of conference affiliation.
"Everybody comes in here, so this won't change a thing," Turgeon said.
"Big Ten basketball is better than Big Ten football right now," Williams added. "There isn't much of an argument. Notre Dame and Syracuse and Pitt coming into the ACC broke the mold for the league. Taking Notre Dame without football was new, that was the first time it happened in the ACC. I never thought that would occur 10 years ago. The conference is trying to get set up for bigger contracts and money with football. But if you ask a Maryland fan who is our rivalry in football, I'm not sure they would come up with a team."
Turgeon has the Terps rising at the right time for a move. Williams had consistently fielded an NCAA team or one on the bubble. Turgeon is continuing that trend. Turgeon will be ready for the Big Ten, just as he has the Terps ready to contend in the past couple seasons in the ACC.
"I think the pros of this are that we're going to a really good league with good coaches," Turgeon said. "I have a really good job at Maryland. I don't know if there are any cons to this."