by Chris McManes
The Catholic University men’s basketball team has in the past three seasons played exhibition games against Notre Dame, George Washington and Florida. This year, the Cardinals will open up with Maryland.
“How many Division III programs can say they’ve played teams from the Big East, Atlantic 10 and SEC?” CUA Coach Steve Howes said. “And now we add the ACC.”
CUA and the Terrapins will meet on Nov. 3 at Comcast Center.
“Steve Howes and his staff have done a tremendous job building an outstanding program at Catholic University,” Maryland Coach Mark Turgeon said. “They won 25 games and advanced to the Division III NCAA Tournament last season. We will be competing against a strong and discipline team in Catholic. They value each possession and have a roster with good shooters and ball-handlers.
“This will be a good opening game test to gauge our progress over the summer and see what improvements we have made early on during fall practice.”
The Cardinals are eagerly anticipating the contest.
“I’m incredibly grateful and appreciative to Coach Turgeon and his staff for the opportunity to play such a storied program,” Howes said. “As a lifelong Maryland fan, this is especially thrilling.”
GW Coach Mike Lonergan is pleased to see his CUA successor play games against major basketball competition.
“I think it’s great Steve has been able to schedule these games,” Lonergan said. “As a former Division III student-athlete and coach at Catholic University who competed against several Division I schools as a player and coach, I can tell you it was a thrill to test ourselves against higher-level competition.
“The players and coaches will have memories from these games that last a lifetime.”
In addition to the Terps, CUA will play at Division I Loyola (Md.) in a regular-season game Dec. 3. “The step up in class,” Lonergan said, “will toughen up the Cardinals as they look to return to the NCAA playoffs.”
A Matchup of Two 25-Win Teams
CUA is coming off one of its finest seasons ever. The Landmark Conference champions captured the regular-season league title with a 12-2 record, advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament and finished 25-4. Head Coach Steve Howes and his assistants were named Landmark Coaching Staff of the Year.
Chris Kearney was honored as Landmark Conference Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year, and became just the second Cardinal selected first-team All-American (NABC). He is now playing professionally in Spain.
The Terrapins were 25-13 last season and advanced to the NIT semifinals at Madison Square Garden. They return a talented team that should do well in their final season in the ACC. Howes admires the job Turgeon has done since succeeding Gary Williams two years ago and is looking forward to sharing the same court with him.
“Coach Turgeon, since he came over to Maryland, has been very helpful to me,” Howes said. “I’ve learned a lot from him, so to prepare and play against one of the best coaches in the country who I have tremendous respect for, will be a special moment for me and our program.”
Two former Cardinal head coaches also coached at Maryland. After Lonergan departed CUA following the 2003-04 season, he was an assistant under Williams for one year. Lonergan left College Park when he named head coach at Vermont, where he remained until taking the GW job in 2011.
Tom Young was a Terrapin captain who helped lead the club to its first Atlantic Coast Conference championship in 1958. He coached the Cardinals from 1958-67 and steered the program to its first league championship when it won the 1964 Mason-Dixon Conference Tournament. The victory put the Cards into the NCAA College Division Tournament.
Young, the fourth-winningest coach in Cardinal history with 134 victories, returned to Maryland for two years as an assistant before serving as American’s head coach. He guided Rutgers to the 1976 Final Four.
Howes passed Young on the school’s all-time wins list in 2011. He enters his 10th season at CUA with a career record of 175-79 (.689) and is just three victories shy of passing Fred Rice (1911-30). At that point, the only man he will trail is Lonergan, who went 251-88 (.740) from 1992-2004.
Howes has led the Cards to three conference championships and three NCAA Tournament appearances. He has the second-highest winning percentage in school history, and D3Hoops.com named him 2012-13 Mid-Atlantic Coach of the Year.
First-year Siena Head Coach Jimmy Patsos played for the Cardinals alongside Lonergan before serving on Williams’ Terrapin staff for 13 years. He played a key role in Maryland’s 11 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances, seven Sweet Sixteens, two Final Fours (2001, 2002) and the 2002 National Championship.
A Lifelong Terrapins Fan
Howes was there when the Terps played their final game in Cole Field House, a 112-92 victory over Virginia on March 3, 2002. NBA veteran Roger Mason, one of Howes’ former players at Good Counsel High School, was playing for the Cavaliers.
“So much of my basketball education occurred at Cole Field House and later at Comcast,” Howes said. “From working camp there to watching practices and games to when Jimmy and Mike were there, to going out and watching them in practice and games now, Maryland has played an important role in my professional development.”
Howes is also a big fan of the Terps women’s basketball team and has become friends with Coach Brenda Frese. You’re just as likely to see him and his family at a women’s game as a men’s.
“Coach Frese has also allowed me to attend their practices,” he said. “I’ve learned quite a bit from her and her staff, and I appreciate their kindness and openness toward me. She and Coach Turgeon are excellent teachers and coaches.”
Howes will have to put aside his Terrapin loyalty for one night in November.
“It will probably be the first and only time I ever root against Maryland,” he said. “When they play the fight song, it’s going to be hard not to sing along.”
The 2013-14 CUA Men’s Basketball schedule will be released on the CUA Athletics website (www.cuacardinals.com) at the beginning of October.