Recent news about the Maryland basketball program hasn’t been too good.
Coach Mark Turgeon’s Terrapins endured a difficult, injury-plagued season that wound up with them missing the NCAA Tournament for the first time in four years.
Once the season ended, three of the team’s top players – Bruno Fernando, Kevin Huerter and Justin Jackson – declared themelves eligible for the June NBA Draft. Jackson plans to sign with an agent, and will not return. Fernando and Huerter could be back, depending on where they’re projected to be drafted.
On Friday night, though, Maryland recruit Andrew Wiggins, a 6-foot-6 swingman, offered offered some hope there may be better days ahead.
Fifty years ago this week, Washington’s sports pages were full of stories on the Green Bay Packers’ recent Super Bowl II victory over the Oakland Raiders.
In sports news closer to home, local basketball fans were starting to notice a kid named Jim O’Brien, who kept showing up in the Stuart High School boxscores with 20 or 30 points to his credit. The rail-thin, 6-foot-7 redhead averaged 17.8 points per game as a sophomore on a team that finished just 11-10.
But by January of 1968, O’Brien had shifted his game into a different gear. He’d had a 42-point, 29-rebound game against rival Falls Church to open the 1967-68 season – a stunning statistical achievement in a 32-minute high school game.
For years, a string of Notre Dame football coaches has tried to duplicate the sustained success of the program’s glory days.
Notre Dame’s basketball program, meanwhile, doesn’t have that problem.
Mike Brey has seen to that.
The Bethesda native and former DeMatha point guard, now in his 18th season as head coach of the Irish, became the all-time winningest coach in Notre Dame basketball history on Wednesday night, thanks to an 88-58 victory over North Carolina State. That triumph gave him 394 victories at Notre Dame, pushing him past the 393 wins accumulated by Richard “Digger” Phelps, who coached at the school from 1971-91.
In a nice gesture, Phelps was even on hand in South Bend the other night to hand Brey the game ball after the final buzzer.
It’s hard to remember now, but the perception of the Maryland basketball program was very different 16 months ago.
As Coach Mark Turgeon began practice for the 2014-15 season, he’d lost a half-dozen players during the offseason – players who were expected to play significant roles for the Terrapins. Headlines and tweets wondered if Turgeon’s job might be in jeopardy. After all, his first three seasons in College Park hadn’t produced a single NCAA Tournament berth. With all the defections, it didn’t look like it would happen in 2014-15, either.
Except, of course, that it did. Freshman guard Melo Trimble was even better than advertised and became one of the most transformative players in Maryland basketball history. Largely because of his efforts, Maryland finished 28-7 and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament that season.
As a sophomore, Trimble has been no less brilliant. He’s the leader of a Terrapins team that has won 13 of its first 14 games and sits at No. 4 in the latest Associated Press college basketball poll. Since Trimble’s arrival and Turgeon’s supposed career crossroads, Maryland is 41-8.
The Internet is now Tweeting a different tune about the Coach; but what about those players who left the program that summer and opted for the court not taken? Unable to find anything on-line or anywhere else on this, this is for Maryland fans who are interested to know whatever became of Charles Mitchell, Seth Allen, Nick Faust, Rody Peters, Shaquille Cleare and Trayvon Reed.