Kevin Willard reflects on 1st season at Maryland after Terrapins exit NCAA Tournament
Kevin Willard knows that, despite losing, there is a lot to be proud of. That was his message to his team as the No. 1 seeded Alabama took down the Terrapins 73-51 on Saturday evening, knocking Maryland out of the tournament.
After the game, Willard was asked what his message was to the team after the loss. Willard emphasized the positive strides the team has made this season with the team.
“It was simple. I told these guys, you know — I think today is March 18th. I got hired on March 21st. I told them that these guys have really done an unbelievable job of coming together and turning this program into — getting it going in the right direction. And it was done with an unbelievable attitude. It was done with an unbelievable work ethic. And I was just extremely proud of them. They have made this by far my best coaching job I’ve ever had. It’s very difficult to move your family. It’s very difficult to leave some place you love very much and come to a new place, and these guys made this year absolutely phenomenal. I told them I was proud of them, I loved them, I said thank you.”
After the Terps finished under .500 for the first time in 20 years, head coach Mark Turgeon left the position. Willard was hired as head coach after being at the helm of Seton Hall basketball for the prior 12 years.
Willard was also asked after the game what he was going to remember most about the season. The head coach stated that for him, it was the players he coached.
“I’m going to take away that this was by far the best team that I’ve ever had to coach. Again, moving their family — your family going through stuff is unbelievably hard. Leaving a place that you loved and you help build. This team for me made coaching really fun, and I enjoy this. And, you know, it sucks to lose, and I hate losing. But I’m proud of these guys. I’m proud of their effort. I’m proud of what they did. I’m proud of — we had 3,000 people at our first game at Niagara. And we sold out eight straight consecutive games. I mean, I’m proud of the way people look at Maryland Basketball right now. It’s because of these young men and the work that they have done. That’s what I’ll take about it.”
Willard has a lot to live up to in his second season as head coach. Considering what he has done for the team in only one season, Maryland fans have a lot to look forward to.