“I was concerned for him,” Williams explained. “I didn’t want him beating himself up over the game [because] he had the technical and was tossed. We as coaches tend to think we’re more important than we are.”
Turgeon’s ejection had a positive effect, however, firing up a too-complacent Maryland squad and spurring the rally under assistant coach Scott Spinelli that slashed a 16-point deficit and forced overtime.
(Kansas Athletics/Kansas Athletics) - Williams, front, and Turgeon, back left, shown in a game for Kansas.
Once again, Turgeon spoke Friday about how proud he was of Spinelli’s guile and his players’ guts as he monitored the comeback in a TV-less locker room via a phone call from his wife and texts from friends.
It was Maryland’s fourth loss in its last five games, underscoring the Terrapins’ underdog status when they take on No. 5 North Carolina (19-3, 6-1).
The Tar Heels boast the nation’s most prolific offense (84.1 points per game) but could be without top scorer Harrison Barnes, who sprained his ankle in Tuesday’s victory over Wake Forest.
Still, North Carolina has no shortage of weapons, with the league’s top rebounder in 7-foot forward Tyler Zeller (11.6 per game) and its assists leader in Kendall Marshall (8.6 per game).
For Maryland (13-8, 3-4), tied for seventh in the ACC standings, the challenge is enormous. Turgeon boiled it down to two keys: racing back on defense and rebounding (the Tar Heels have gotten the rebound on missed shots — theirs or their opponents’ — 56.8 percent of the time, which ranks fifth nationally). He tossed in “figuring out a way to score” for good measure.
But as far as Saturday’s coaching matchup, Turgeon said he felt Williams, as the mentor, had the tougher task.
“I think it’s harder for the mentor [than the protege] because your whole life you’re trying to help guys get to where they need to be,” Turgeon said.
In fact, Turgeon said he didn’t feel as much dread over facing Williams as he did each time he has coached against his best friend and former teammate, Colorado Coach Tad Boyle, or when he first coached against Kansas, his alma mater.
“I’m not worried about coaching against Coach Williams,” Turgeon said. “It’s more about Harrison Barnes and all those studs they run out there on the floor. . . . When the game starts, you’re coaching. After the initial handshake, we won’t think about it till the game is over.”