GREENSBORO, N.C. — The pained look Maryland athletic director Kevin Anderson has worn for most of the past two months has had more to do with his recovery from knee replacement surgery than what he endured watching the Terps men's basketball team's disappointing season.
The solemn look was there Thursday, but this time it had more to do with the Terps' losing another close game than with his new knee.
Anderson, who signed Mark Turgeon to an eight-year contract after Gary Williams retired suddenly in March 2011, said he still has faith that the Terps will turn it around. Sunday likely will mark the Terps' fourth straight season outside the NCAA tournament field.
“I have the utmost confidence in Mark and what he’s putting together as a program,” Anderson said in the hallway outside the Maryland dressing room at the Greensboro Coliseum, after the Terps lost to Florida State, 67-65, in the second round of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament. “We’ve got a great recruiting class coming in.”
Anderson said that what has transpired this season at Maryland is reminiscent of legendary coach Bill Walsh’s final season as Stanford’s football coach, in 1994.
“He had a losing record, and anytime the ball bounced, it definitely didn’t bounce our way,” recalled Anderson, Stanford's director of annual giving for athletics from 1993 to 1995. “Anytime there was a call, the call didn’t go our way. The next year, Tyrone Willingham comes in. I believe we went 9-3 and went to the Sun Bowl. Every time the ball bounced [in 2013-14], it definitely didn’t bounce our way. This was that type of season.”
Anderson said to look no further than the game last month at Duke, in which the Terps stormed back from a double-digit deficit before losing in the final seconds by two points, in large part because of a possession arrow that wasn't changed on a play that led to a key basket by the Blue Devils.
“I don’t think you might see that two or three other times this year, if you see it at all,” Anderson said.
While experiencing what could be his most frustrating season in 16 years as a Division I head coach, one that included nearly half of Maryland’s 15 losses coming by four points or fewer, Turgeon hasn’t wavered in saying the Terps will go back to being a perennial Top 25 team, as they were for many years under Williams.
Recalling a what-goes-around-comes-around philosophy that led to his mentor’s nickname — “'The world is round' Larry Brown,” he said — Turgeon believes that things will turn in Maryland’s favor quickly in the Big Ten Conference next season.
“My time’s coming,” Turgeon said. “We’re going to keep doing what we believe in and we’re going to get this thing rolling at a high level. Hopefully, we got all the bad luck out of the way this year."