Maryland hires Seton Hall’s Kevin Willard as head coach

Both Kevin Willard and Maryland have achieved some success over the past decade.

Now they team up in hopes that bigger and better things are on the horizon.

Willard takes over as head coach of Maryland after a dozen seasons at Seton Hall. The Terrapins announced the hire three days after Seton Hall’s season ended with a loss to TCU in the NCAA Tournament. Willard has taken the Pirates to five of the last six NCAA Tournaments, despite only making the second round once.

Maryland, meanwhile, have made the second round four times since 2015, but with just one Sweet 16 appearance. The Terrapins were looking for a new coach after Mark Turgeon left in early December. Assistant Danny Manning took over as interim coach and the Terps went 15-17 for their first losing season since 1993.

“I have always admired Maryland’s basketball program, and to be named the new head coach of one of the biggest brands in college basketball is a tremendous honor,” Willard said in a statement. “Thank you to President (Darryll) Pines and (Sporting Director) Damon Evans for trusting me to re-energize this proud program as we seek to galvanize our passionate fan base with a tough, hardworking style of basketball. Having coached many times against Maryland and at the XFINITY Center, I know what Terp fans think of their team and understand their expectations.

These expectations are high. When Willard arrived at Seton Hall, the Pirates had missed the NCAA four straight years. In this context, he took the program to the next level. Maryland, on the other hand, won a national title in 2002 under Gary Williams. It was him that Turgeon followed, and the results were not up to par, especially in the NCAA tournament.

Willard moves from the Big East to the Big Ten after seven 20-win seasons with the Pirates.

“Kevin Willard has proven himself in the Big East at Seton Hall,” Williams said. “The intensity level of his teams reflects the passion Kevin will bring to our team and the university.”

“We are thrilled to welcome Kevin to the Terrapin family,” said Evans. “We are excited about the future of Maryland basketball with Kevin leading the way.”

Willard has won 225 games at Seton Hall, overtaking PJ Carlesimo earlier this season for second place on the school’s career list. The Pirates won the Big East Tournament in 2016 and a regular season title in 2020. In that regard, Willard suffered a similar fate to Turgeon – they had arguably their best teams at Seton Hall and Maryland in 2020, when the NCAA tournament was called. stopped because of the coronavirus pandemic. The Terps were tied for first in the Big Ten that season.

After Seton Hall was eliminated from this year’s NCAA Tournament, Willard said candidly that if he wasn’t back with the Pirates, he would like Shaheen Holloway to be there. Holloway, who played at Seton Hall, coached 15th-seeded Saint Peter’s in the Sweet 16 this year; the Peacocks will face Purdue later this week.

Seton Hall said he would begin a search for Willard’s successor.

“I’ve had the pleasure of working with Kevin for 10 of his 12 years here at Seton Hall, and I want to thank him for his phenomenal leadership of our men’s basketball program and for helping our student-athletes become the best possible versions of themselves,” said Seton Hall athletic director Bryan Felt. “Kevin came in and immediately changed the culture of our program and turned it into a perennial Big East championship and tournament contender. NCAA with student-athletes who are doing well in the classroom and representing the university in a first-class way.”

Prior to returning to the Seton Hall program, Willard coached Iona for three seasons. His father Ralph coached Western Kentucky, Pittsburgh and Holy Cross, winning 336 games and six times appearing in the NCAA Tournament.

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