John Auslander and Logan Aronhalt return to Maryland as graduate assistants

August 28, 2014

John Auslander will serve as graduate assistant at Maryland this season. (Katherine Frey/The Washington Post)

As part of his new duties as a graduate assistant for the Maryland men’s basketball team, Logan Aronhalt is working on a recruiting presentation that requires him to sift through old photos of the team’s head coach, Mark Turgeon. Aronhalt would often find John Auslander in the background of those photos, standing in his uniform near the bench and yelling directions at the players as if he was job-shadowing Turgeon.

Now Aronhalt will work alongside Auslander on that same sideline as newly minted graduate assistant coaches who, under Turgeon’s wing, are taking the first step to fulfilling their ambition to become college basketball coaches. Maryland officially announced the additions of Aronhalt and Auslander to the staff on Thursday.

It is, in many respects, like any first job. They were once players for this program, but will now work behind the scenes. Auslander calls it being a “resource” on the court and in the offices, where this summer the two former players have been busy stuffing envelopes for recruiting mailouts, or mapping out travel plans for coaches’ recruiting visits.

“Both me and Logan played for Coach, so we have a pretty good idea of what he wants. So we can help relay his message,” Auslander said.

By the end of the day Aronhalt and Asulander are back living in the same housing with the players, at the University View apartments across from Xfinity Center.

“I think the biggest thing is dealing with the players directly. All our coaches, the head coach and assistants, are more like father figures to the guys on the team,” Aronhalt said. “I feel like we’re more like big brothers. We’re not going to come down on them with an iron fist, but if they’re not doing the right things, we kind of just give them a little nudge, keep them in line. It’s all the the little things, make sure they’re eating right, getting their rest, making sure they’re doing their homework.”

Both sons of coaches, Asulander and Aronhalt took different trajectories to their current positions. As a player, Auslander established a reputation of having a highly intelligent basketball mind, and he took advantage of every opportunity as a senior last season to start practicing for his new career.

Aronhalt, who transferred to Maryland from Albany for his final season of eligibility in 2012, played briefly in Italy last year, signing a 10-month contract with third-division Assigeco Casalpusterlengo. It was a grind for Aronhalt, living in a small town and practicing twice a week in preparation for a Sunday game. He began to put the idea of returning to College Park as a graduate assistant into Turgeon’s ear around Christmas time last year. He never planned on being a coach after playing in high school in Zanesville, Ohio, for his father, Scott, but as he grew older and weathered the experience in Italy, it became more apparent what he wanted.

“His passion for the game kind of rubbed off on me, I think,” Aronhalt said of his father. “I thought that would be a quality life to live.”

Aronhalt is working toward his masters degree in kinesiology, while Auslander is getting his in real estate and development. Being a graduate assistant “gets close to consuming your life,” Asulander said. He’s constantly taking notes and prides himself on staying on top of his responsibilities, no matter how small they may be. This is what he’s always wanted to do, and his foot is in the door.

“Especially at the University of Maryland, with the basketball tradition, it’s a coveted position,” Auslander said. “You’re getting two years where you get a  free masters degree, and then you get to learn how to coach through some of the top coaches in the country…having played at this level, it’s tough to get a job like that.”

[From the D.C. Sports Bog: Maryland is putting a really big scoreboard in Xfinity Center.]

Roman Stubbs covers the University of Maryland athletics for The Washington Post.
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Roman Stubbs · August 28, 2014