Guymon Daily Herald
Terry, Willard, other new coaches making gains in 2022-23 debuts
Rodney Terry had minimal notice that his responsibilities were about to change. Just hours before Texas was to face Rice on Dec. 12, Terry was made the interim replacement for Chris Beard, who was suspended after a domestic violence arrest and later fired.
With 10 years of experience guiding a program, and 27 years in the profession, Terry has steadied the eighth-ranked Longhorns amid all the chaos, making him one of the new coaches making a big splash this season.
Texas is 16-6 under Terry after beating No. 23 Iowa State on Tuesday night, and 22-6 overall. Terry compiled a 163-156 record over three seasons at UTEP and seven at Fresno State and has spent much of his time in an assistant’s role with the Longhorns. Their energetic style comes from Terry, guard Marcus Carr said.
“Coach does a good job of, you know, before we even start talking about basketball, just making sure we understand where we’re at, and we’re all grateful to just be here and be breathing every single day and thankful to have the opportunity of life,” Carr said. “Coach definitely puts that energy into us and I definitely think it spreads throughout the whole team.”
Here are some other coaches faring well in their first seasons in charge (records through Tuesday):
KEVIN WILLARD, MARYLAND (18-9)
The Terps parted ways with coach Mark Turgeon last December and hired Willard away from Seton Hall. The new coach set expectations high right away, calling the job one of the 10 best in the country.
He’s delivering, with victories against then- No. 16 Illinois, then- No. 24 Ohio State, current No. 17 Indiana and current No. 5 Purdue.
The 68-54 win over the Boilermakers was the Terps’ first against a top five team since 2016 and, in a sign of diminished expectations in the 20 years since their 2002 national championship, led students to storm the court.
“That was special . ... The courtstorming was for the students, for the fans. The locker room was what it’s all about. It was great. I told them I was very proud of them. I told him that they earned it,” Willard said. “It was a fun moment, just being able to get a big one like that.”
JEROME TANG, KANSAS STATE (21-7)
Tang took over when Bruce Weber resigned after three consecutive losing seasons, during which the Wildcats were 34-58 overall and 13-41 in the Big 12. Tang has transformed the program even while competing in the rugged league that boasts six teams in the AP Top 25.
Kansas State, ranked No. 14, had one of the more impressive runs of the season beginning on New Year’s Eve when it beat then-No. 24 West Virginia 82-76 in overtime, won at current No. 8 Texas 116-103 on Jan. 3 and won at current No. 9 Baylor 97-95 on Jan. 7. The Wildcats completed a sweep of Baylor with a 75-65 victory Tuesday.
“I don’t know when’s the last time a team had to play three ranked teams in a row and two of them on the road,” Tang said after the first win at Baylor. “That’s a great accomplishment for these young men. But none of that matters if we lay an egg in the next game, right?”
SEAN MILLER, XAVIER (20-8)
His success in his first stint as the Musketeers coach, from 2004-09, earned him the top job at Arizona. He now appears to have No. 16 Xavier poised to make a run at the Big East championship.
Miller spent 12 scandal-tinged, successful seasons at Arizona before being fired after last season. He escaped sanctions after a lengthy federal corruption investigation into college basketball recruiting, costing him 50 victories and leaving the program with
a self-imposed, one-year postseason ban.
The addition of top scorer Souley Boum (16.3 ppg) from UTEP has been key in making the Musketeers significant contenders in a top league.
CHRIS JANS, MISSISSIPPI STATE (18-10)
The head man at New Mexico State from 201722, Jans left after last season with a 122-32 record with the Aggies and an NCAA Tournament upset of Connecticut last season as a No. 12 seed. He’s quickly improved things for the Bulldogs, who had not won more than 18 games in either of the previous two seasons but are 18-10 this year.
After three NIT appearances in the last five years, the Bulldogs seem a sure bet to make it back into the NCAA’s field of 68 this season.
DENNIS GATES, MISSOURI (20-8)
Gates, who coached at Cleveland State last season, has engineered a quick turnaround for a program that finished 12-21 last season. The Tigers’ 86-85 victory at No. 11 Tennessee on Feb. 11 was just the 10th in program history against a top 10 team on the road and gave them five wins against ranked teams, their most since 201112.