COLLEGE PARK, Md. (WDVM) – With just a little over 35 seconds left in regulation; fans in the Xfinity Center steadily poured out of the arena, as the Maryland Terrapins lose their first Big Ten matchup of the season to Northwestern, 67-61, in interim Head Coach, Danny Manning’s debut.
In his first press conference as the interim head coach, Manning started with a few words on his relationship with Mark Turgeon, and his history with the former coach. He described the last 48 hours, since the news of Turgeon’s departure as a “whirlwind of emotion”.
“It seemed like a lot longer than 48 hours.” said Manning, “You know that’s not in the coaching manual, that’s not in the coaching playbook. It’s not – situations like that. We got the information, had a chance to visit with Turge. There was a lot of emotion, and rightfully so. We came back in and thought for what we got accomplished in terms of our guys to move up and down the court. It was good. But more importantly, we had the chance to sit down, and talk, and everyone had the chance t express their feelings, and what they were thinking. We need to continue to do that.”
Maryland’s top guards, Eric Ayala, and Donta Scott; both came up short in the game against Northwestern, combining for just seven points in the first half, behind a 2-of-11 shooting performance.
“As a team, we have to still keep fighting.” said Eric Ayala, “Nobody is going to have sympathy for us. We go out there and play games, nobody is going to care that we just lost a coach, and somebody who meant a lot to our program.”
As evidence of how much Turgeon meant to the Terrapin program, Northwestern Head Coach, Chris Collins, echoed Ayala’s thoughts in his opening remarks after the game.
“I hope Coach Turgeon is being celebrated for what he did here,” Collins said before taking questions. “For 10 years I competed against that guy for a couple of years at Duke when I was an assistant, eight years in the Big Ten and I can tell you, trying to prepare to play against his teams, the players he has here, the winning, the way he did it, the kind of person he is. He’s a good basketball coach, and a good man so I hope everyone around here will celebrate him for his tenure as you guys more forward.”
“It was definitely tough,” Ayala said of Turgeon’s exit. “It’s still kind of unreal. It kind of felt like when we heard we [weren’t] going to play in the NCAA tournament through COVID. It kind of had that feel to it, that shock. And we’re still trying to get through it.”
Maryland’s next challenge comes next Sunday, against Florida.
“I didn’t expect to be in this position, but I’m ready to take on the responsibility of helping lead this team with the rest of our staff.” said Manning, in his postgame press conference. “I promised Turge and I promised Damon [Evans] that I would do that, and I owe it to this team.”