When Mark Turgeon and the University of Maryland parted ways in early December, assistant Danny Manning stepped up as the interim coach and was handed a difficult task. Taking over during the season is a tall order for anybody, but Manning persevered and led the Terrapins to a 15-17 overall record.
Manning, 55, took over the coaching reins when Maryland had a 5-3 record. Under Manning, the Terrapins went 9-14 overall with a 7-13 mark in Big Ten play. Despite the record, Manning still managed to keep the team playing tough and together. All in all, it was an experience he will never forget.
“[I’m] very grateful for the opportunity,” Manning said on Glenn Clark Radio April 7. “I say that because I [got] a chance to work with some quality young people day in and day out doing something that I love to do, and being able to share some of the experiences I had to help them on their journey. And whenever you get a chance to have an impact, you get a chance to lead, it’s a privilege.”
Manning is a veteran in the game of basketball at the collegiate and professional level. As a 6-foot-10 forward, Manning played at the University of Kansas, where he won the national championship and Naismith College Player of the Year award in 1988. Manning is also Kansas’ all-time leading scorer with 2,951 points.
Manning was the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA Draft after that championship. Manning played 15 seasons in the NBA, earning All-Star nods in 1992-93 and 1993-94. He won Sixth Man of the Year in 1997-98.
After his playing career, he was an assistant at his alma mater from 2006-2012, winning five Big 12 regular-season titles and the national championship in 2008. After that, he was the head coach at Tulsa (2012-2014) and Wake Forest (2014-2020). Then, of course, Manning was hired as an assistant at Maryland under Turgeon before becoming the interim coach.
But with Kevin Willard having been hired as the new coach, Manning will not be returning. While he would have liked to return, he is still extremely grateful for the experience.
“What you can control is where your two feet are at in that moment and where your heart is at that moment,” Manning said. “And that’s all I worried about. Would I have liked to have continued on being the head coach of Maryland? Yeah, absolutely. Maybe I would have had an opportunity if we had won more games, when you talk about it like that.
“But at the end of the day, it was still an experience. I’m grateful for the experience, I’m grateful for the relationships and the opportunities to make new friends and build upon relationships during my time there. When I look back on it, it will be fond memories, for sure.”
Manning explained that the Big Ten was one of the toughest leagues for him to coach in, but it added to the experience.
“The basketball, the pure basketball was really impressive to me. The different coaching styles [were] challenging,” Manning said. “Of course, you have great players and really fun venues to go into and play. For me, I got a chance to check off a bunch of bucket-list venues that I never had a chance to go into, but I watched on TV many, many, many times, being in a part of the Big Ten, this last year.”
During Maryland’s coaching search, there was a lot of talk about how good of a job it really was.
The Terps have reached 29 NCAA Tournaments and won the national championship in 2002. However, they have made just eight tournaments since 2005 and have only reached the second weekend once during that time period (2016).
Manning said there are still some things that Maryland needs to do in order to compete at the top of the college basketball world.
“You don’t have a practice facility,” Manning said. “Top programs in the country have a practice facility and they’ve had one for a while. I think the potential is definitely there with the history and tradition of the program. But I think the facilities have to catch up and put them back in the ballgame.”
The University of Maryland has announced plans for the Barry P. Gossett Basketball Performance Center, which is going to cost around $40 million. The facility will be for both the men’s and women’s basketball teams and will include two practice courts, a weight room, locker rooms, coaches’ offices and various other amenities. Once that is built, it should be a huge factor in better recruiting and performance.
In terms of Manning’s future, he still is unsure what is next for him. Manning attended the Kansas-North Carolina national championship game and saw his alma mater win its fourth championship.
“I’ve had some different conversations with a few different people at the collegiate and the professional level, and also in the media, TV broadcasting,” Manning said. “So just taking a deep breath right now and trying to figure out which direction I want to go or would like to try to go into.”
For more from Manning, listen to the full interview here:
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