Kentucky Derby weekend, you’ll recall, was when Sean Miller’s name began to disappear from the stories about Maryland’s next men’s basketball coach. And the Sunday after the Derby was when Mark Turgeon’s name suddenly shot to the top of the stories, with at least one source flat-out reporting that afternoon that Turgeon would be the guy.
Which is why it’s kind of interesting to learn that Larry Brown — Turgeon’s collegiate coach and mentor — and Kevin Plank — a budding horseman and key figure in Maryland’s coaching search — actually spent time together that Saturday.
“I went to my first Kentucky Derby,” Brown told ESPN 980’s Kevin Sheehan on Tuesday. “I got invited, my wife and I went and I met Kevin Plank. And I had played golf with him and Gary before, and we were out just kind of visiting. And he kind of told me Sean Miller was gonna be the next coach of Maryland. And I said you guys ought to interview Mark Turgeon. I said I know he’s happy at A&M, but he wants to go somewhere where maybe he has a better chance of winning a national championship.
“And the next night Mark and I visited, and they were coming to Pittsburgh to see him. So it worked out great. I think when we talked about it, it wasn’t so much what Texas A&M didn’t offer. It was what Maryland represented: being in the ACC, they’ve already won a national championship, they’re in an area that you can recruit great kids, and I think the facilities are as good as any. So this is a perfect opportunity for Mark to go forward.”
That’s an interesting addition to the timeline, anyhow. Brown, as you might guess, said he’s already talked to Turgeon about coming down from Philly to visit College Park, and that Turgeon was “a great choice” for Maryland.
“I’m a big Gary Williams fan: he did it the right way and he’s a passionate guy and cares about kids,” Brown said. “And I think Mark has a lot of the same qualities, and they have the same values. They believe in kids, they make players play hard, try to defend and play unselfishly, and I think it’s a good good fit. It’s a great school with a chance to win a national championship, and I think Mark’s a perfect guy to lead them in that direction.”