Kevin Willard returns to New Jersey trying to take down giant-killer Rutgers

Kevin Willard returns to New Jersey looking to take down giant-killer Rutgers

Kevin Willard hasn’t a lot loved teaching at Rutgers lately.

As the pinnacle coach at Seton Corridor, he went 0-2 at Jersey Mike’s Enviornment towards coach Steve Pikiell however was 4-3 total on the RAC.

Now that he’s the pinnacle man at Maryland, Willard will probably be making an annual journey again to Jersey — and his first one comes three days after the Scarlet Knights (10-4, 2-1 Huge Ten) upset No. 1 Purdue.

“Going again to Rutgers, it’s not like a sentimental factor for me,” Willard cracked over the cellphone Wednesday night on the eve of Thursday’s matchup (6:30, Huge Ten Community).

“They’re in our league so I’ll be going again on a regular basis, however I believe enjoying in that constructing is hard. I believe it’s the most effective atmospheres in school basketball. They’re into it, the gang’s into it. It’s a troublesome place to play.”

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The Terrapins (10-4, 1-2) have misplaced 4 of 6 since beginning the season 8-0 and peaking at No. 13 within the AP Ballot. On New Yr’s Day they have been hammered at Michigan, 81-46. And on Dec. 14, they have been smacked at residence by No. 16 UCLA 87-60.

“We’re 10-4,” Willard mentioned in a deadpan. “We’ve acquired 10 wins, we have now some losses.”

He added: “This can be a good group, they’ve been enjoyable to educate. They got here the final two days and practiced exhausting and labored exhausting. They’ve an ideal angle.”

Willard, 47, and Pikiell, 55, have a mutual respect for each other and each know the opposite’s group will play powerful.

“I believe Steve has completed pretty much as good a training job as anyone this 12 months,” Willard mentioned. “He’s gotten extra aggressive together with his protection. He’s made them a particular preparation group, the place, though they have been at all times powerful and excellent defensively, now with them urgent and being extra aggressive on the defensive finish, you gotta spend time preparing for that now.”

For his half, Pikiell mentioned of Willard: “He’s only a nice man, he actually is. We now have a (mutual) respect. He did an unbelievable job at Seton Corridor. I believe all of the coaches on this league have a great camaraderie. Everyone knows how troublesome these jobs are. He’s a great household man. We now have a great relationship based mostly on a ton of respect. The job he’s completed in his first 12 months is unbelievable. To take over a program like that and have them ranked in 5 minutes is unbelievable.”

Willard lately made headlines when he ripped the Huge Ten scheduling and blamed it for the convention failing to win a nationwide championship since 2000.

“I began from an outsider trying in, now being within the convention, I can perceive why there’s been such an extended nationwide championship drought within the Huge 10,” he mentioned final month on his radio present. “As a result of I simply don’t assume they know the way to schedule.”

After saying for years the Huge East was the most effective league within the nation, now in fact he defers to the Huge Ten.

“Now that I’ve watched all of the groups and been to among the highway video games, I simply assume that this league is a lot deeper than the Huge East,” he mentioned.

Per ESPN’s Joe Lunardi, 9 Huge Groups would presently be within the NCAA Match discipline, in comparison with 5 from the Huge East.

Willard’s former college, Seton Corridor, is just not one in every of them. The Pirates are 8-8, 1-4 within the Huge East after getting crushed Tuesday night time at Creighton. But new coach Shaheen Holloway, who was on Willard’s employees earlier than taking up at Saint Peter’s and main them on a magical Elite Eight run, has Willard’s full help.

“I believe Sha’s doing good,” Willard mentioned. “I simply watched their Rutgers recreation [won by Seton Hall last month]. I believe they’re type of somewhat bit like us. They’re struggling to attain at instances, which in school basketball whenever you wrestle to attain it places loads of strain in your protection.

“He’s doing an outstanding job. It’s not straightforward taking up a brand new program, despite the fact that he’s been there and he performed there, it’s nonetheless new. It’s a brand new league for him, I believe everybody has to know that and proceed to help him and be affected person. However I believe he’s doing an outstanding job.”

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Adam Zagoria is a contract reporter who covers Seton Corridor and NJ school basketball for NJ Advance Media. Chances are you’ll comply with him on Twitter @AdamZagoria and take a look at his Web site at