Maryland men's basketball coach Mark Turgeon has done his best to embrace the past while building for the future. He has forged relationships with his two most celebrated predecessors, Gary Williams and Lefty Driesell. He has done the same with many former players.
Now the Terps will be stepping back in time for Maryland Madness — and, in coming years, perhaps more.
On the same day the athletic department announced that the preseason event will be be held at Cole Field House on Oct. 18, Turgeon said Tuesday that he hopes to hopes to play at least one regular-season game at the building every year.
Though Cole Field House is still used by the university for classes as well as some intramural sports, it essentially closed its doors to basketball after the 2001-2002 season. The last men's game was a 112-92 win over Virginia on March 3, about a month before the Terps won their first national championship.
"Cole Field House represented many of the most iconic and memorable moments in Maryland basketball program history," Turgeon said in a statement on Maryland Madness. "Cole was host to multiple hall of fame coaches and countless All-Americans that helped make Maryland basketball what it is today. It will be a special evening for our fans, students, alumni and our university as we reconnect with the historic past of Cole Field House and Maryland basketball."
In an interview Tuesday with ESPN college basketball analysts Andy Katz and Seth Greenberg, Turgeon said he would like to play regularly at Cole Field House, ideally in late December. "I think we'll fill it up, and fans will be real excited to do that," Turgeon said during an "ESPNU College Basketball" podcast. "I'm real pumped up for it."
Turgeon could not be reached to comment further on the possibility of such a game.
Opened in 1955, Cole Field House was long considered among the top college basketball venues in the country — and most historic. In 1966, it hosted the men's NCAA tournament final between Kentucky and Texas Western (now Texas El Paso), which fielded the first all-black starting lineup in NCAA championship history.
Maryland hasn't announced its lineup of former stars attending Maryland Madness, but Williams and Driesell, along with many of their former players, likely will be on the list, as will many of women's basketball coach Brenda Frese's former players who were part of the 2006 women's NCAA championship team.
"It's a great chance for this generation to get a glimpse of what Maryland basketball was like and to honor our history," Frese said in a statement. "As we celebrate our theme of, 'Proud Past, Fearless Future,' this is really a culmination of that with our fans, students and the players. At the same time, we'll be celebrating our future. So when you can do all that at the same time, that's really special."
Tickets will be available to students beginning at 8:30 a.m. Monday at umterps.com/student. Terrapin Club members can reserve tickets at umterps.com or by calling 1-800-462-TERP. Should any tickets remain, season-ticket holders who are not Terrapin Club donors can reserve seats beginning 8:30 a.m. Oct. 3.
The doors to Cole Field House will open at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 18, and and the program will begin at 6:30 p.m.
Driesell and Williams welcomed Tuesday's announcement. The two men will apparently put aside the issues between them that arose when the court at Comcast Center was named in honor of Williams two years ago to be part of the event next month.
"I'm looking forward to it. It's great. I think it will be fun," Driesell said in a telephone interview from his beach house in Delaware. "I hope we can get all the players back there."
Said Williams: "I would certainly enjoy being there. I haven't talked to [athletic director] Kevin Anderson yet about it, but I would look forward to it."
The idea to hold Maryland Madness at Cole Field House grew out of a campaign to celebrate the school's final season in the Atlantic Coast Conference before its athletic teams move to the Big Ten next season.
The 14,500-seat arena holds special memories for both Williams and Driesell.
Driesell watched his first game there a few years before he became Maryland's head coach in 1969. He went there with the father of Fred Hetzel, who played for Driesell at Davidson, to watch Hetzel's younger brother, Will, play for the Terps.
"There were only about 1,000 or 2,000 people there, and Mr. Hetzel made the comment, 'Hey, Lefty, you can fill the place up," Driesell said.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun