Sun, 23 Jan 2022

New-look Maryland braces for test from Northwestern

Field Level Media
05 Dec 2021, 03:55 GMT+10

Being merely a good coach isn't good enough at Maryland.

So, after winning 66.1 percent of his games and helping the Terrapins clinch a berth in the NCAA Tournament on five occasions, Mark Turgeon is gone.

The bar is high in a program built by charismatic coaches Lefty Driesell and Gary Williams. And Turgeon never quite reached it, taking the Terps to one Sweet 16 appearance in his 10 seasons.

The last straw came Wednesday. On a night when the program paid tribute to Len Bias, the Terps frittered away a second-half lead and lost to Virginia Tech, prompting fans to boo as Turgeon and his 5-3 team walked off the court.

Now it is up to Turgeon's former Kansas teammate, Danny Manning, to pick up the pieces as the interim coach. Manning begins his new assignment Sunday against visiting Northwestern (5-2) in the Big Ten opener for both teams in College Park, Md.

"Our staff remains focused on making sure we are there to support our players in every facet," Manning said upon his promotion.

Manning, formerly the head coach for two years at Tulsa and six at Wake Forest, takes over a team with enough talent to be ranked No. 21 at the start of this season.

Eric Ayala leads Maryland by averaging 13.5 points per game, while Fatts Russell (12.3 points, 3.5 assists) brings speed to the offense. Qudus Wahab, who averages 11.6 points and 7.1 rebounds, provides a presence on the interior.

The Terps have been hampered by crooked shooting as they've hit just 26.8 percent of their 3-point attempts.

Long-distance shooting is a weapon for Northwestern.

Pete Nance, who leads the Wildcats in average points (17.3) and rebounds (7.9), has made 45.5 percent of his 3-point attempts.

Boo Buie (16.7 points per game) has hit 15 shots from beyond the arc, tying him for the team lead with Ty Berry.

Northwestern is coming off a 77-73 overtime loss at Wake Forest on Tuesday.

"We're gonna be in a lot of close games. We know that. We gotta win our share," coach Chris Collins said. "If you're gonna have a good season, you gotta win more than you lose when you get in those situations."

--Field Level Media

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