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‘It’s innate for me and him’: Mark Turgeon and Danny Manning reunited at Maryland after magical runs at Kansas

“We trust each other,” Turgeon said Monday during a virtual news conference to introduce new Maryland assistant Danny Manning. “We have this, like, this little thing inside of us that we know what the other guy is thinking. It’s just innate for me and him, and we’ve been apart for a long time but I already feel it.”
“We trust each other,” Turgeon said Monday during a virtual news conference to introduce new Maryland assistant Danny Manning. “We have this, like, this little thing inside of us that we know what the other guy is thinking. It’s just innate for me and him, and we’ve been apart for a long time but I already feel it.”

When asked what drew him to join his former Kansas teammate and longtime friend Mark Turgeon at Maryland, Danny Manning recalled advice from his dad.

“My father was a college coach,” Manning said Monday on a virtual conference call, “and he always told me, he said you want to work with people that you enjoy being around, that you trust, that are friends. Because it is a job with unreal hours and there’s a lot of times that you’re going to spend more time with your work staff than your actual family.”

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Given the tip from his late father, Ed, a former assistant at Kansas while Manning starred on Jayhawks teams in the 1980s, it was a “no-brainer,” as Manning called it, to reunite with a man with whom he experienced some of his greatest moments on a basketball court.

Manning and Turgeon shared the floor for three seasons, which included a run to the Final Four in 1986. When Turgeon graduated, he moved to the bench to serve as an assistant to Larry Brown while Manning was the star of a 1988 team that captured the national title.

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Over three decades later, the men have paired together again, with Manning introduced on Monday as Maryland’s new assistant coach as the duo looks to capture similar success with the Terps.

“Danny and I just do great things together. We did it as players and we’re going to do it as coaches,” Turgeon said of Manning, who he’s known since he was 18.

Mark Turgeon with former Kansas teammate Danny Manning from his playing days at Kansas.
Mark Turgeon with former Kansas teammate Danny Manning from his playing days at Kansas. (Courtesy of Kansas Athletics)

Manning, 54, spent the past year as a college basketball commentator for ESPN after he was fired at Wake Forest following a six-year run that included an appearance in the NCAA tournament in 2017. The former Kansas assistant also spent two seasons as the head coach of Tulsa from 2012 to 2014, which culminated in the program’s first NCAA tournament appearance in over a decade.

Nestled in the comfort of an analyst position and away from the rigors of the college landscape, Manning said the year away from coaching allowed him to “realize what this game means to me.”

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“I missed the competitiveness,” he said. “I missed the interactions on the court with the players. I miss sitting down and visiting with the players over a meal about what’s going on in their life or how they’re trying to navigate certain things. So, that was a deciding factor for me. And then you have thrown on top of it a chance to come back and get into the profession again with somebody that I know and trust and look forward to being around every day. It was a wonderful opportunity.”

As Turgeon and Manning reminisced on the journey that has brought them back working together, they couldn’t hide the impact of Brown, who not only coached them at Kansas but served as a mentor as they jump-started their coaching careers. And with two of Brown’s protégés now on the coaching staff, they had no doubt that his influence would be even more present on next season’s group of players.

At College Park, Turgeon said Manning will be a trusted confidant who can empathize with his responsibility of leading an entire basketball program. Manning joins Matt Brady — who was a head coach at Marist and James Madison — and longtime assistant Bino Ranson.

Turgeon noted Manning’s success at Wake Forest in recruiting former four-star guard Bryant Crawford of Gonzaga High School in Washington as he assimilates to the area and works to further develop relationships in the DMV. With the team signing transfer Qudus Wahab and welcoming incoming freshman forward Julian Reese (St. Frances), Manning’s experience as a three-time consensus All-American forward will be invaluable as Turgeon looks to return to a style of play that he didn’t have the personnel for during the 2020-21 season.

Turgeon cautioned, however, that the No. 1 overall pick in the 1988 NBA draft isn’t just a “big man coach. He’s a great basketball coach. So, he’ll work with the guards and the big guys.”

Though it’s been several years since the two have worked together, Turgeon still senses the connection forged on the court that helped lead Kansas to three Sweet Sixteen appearances and a national championship in the late 1980s.

“We trust each other,” Turgeon said. “We have this, like, this little thing inside of us that we know what the other guy is thinking. It’s just innate for me and him, and we’ve been apart for a long time but I already feel it.”

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