- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 27, 2005

Maryland assistant basketball coach Mike Lonergan expected a short tenure with the Terrapins, but he didn’t figure on getting another job before the end of his first season.

Lonergan signed a five-year, $550,000 deal yesterday to become Vermont’s coach when Maryland’s season ends. The former Catholic University coach replaces Tom Brennan, who will retire after 19 years at Vermont.

Lonergan, 39, left Catholic after 11 seasons hoping his presence at Maryland would provide a better chance to run a Division I program. He previously had few interviews despite 251 victories and a Division III national title with the Cardinals. Lonergan used Maryland’s flex offense at Catholic and considers Terps coach Gary Williams his mentor.

“There are so many things I learned from Coach Williams that will help me throughout the rest of my career,” Lonergan said. “He has been a great boss, but more importantly, a great friend. I will forever remain a Maryland fan — the team I grew up rooting for — and a Gary Williams fan.”

Lonergan becomes Williams’ 12th assistant to become a head coach and the second in the past year. Jimmy Patsos moved to Loyola after last season.

“Mike’s a proven coach,” Williams said. “Hopefully, coming here gave him a little more exposure. I think [Vermont’s] getting a very good basketball coach. I appreciate Mike being here.”

End of era

The last links to the Terps’ 2002 national championship team play their final home game today against No.2 North Carolina. Forward Mike Grinnon was a seldom-used freshman during the title year, and forward Darien Henry was a practice player who later earned a scholarship. Neither gained much playing time over their careers, but Williams regularly speaks of their value during practices.

“Practices are really important to the success of the team,” Williams said. “It’s hard to measure what they give to the program, but you don’t have good teams without having guys like Darien and Mike.”

Grinnon may start on “Senior Night” as part of an unofficial tradition, though Williams declined comment on his lineup. It would be Grinnon’s first start in 53 career games, but he has averaged a career-best 5.9 minutes in 14 games this season. Grinnon said he won’t play professionally overseas after graduating in May.

Grinnon is the only Terp to win both a national title and an ACC tournament championship (2004). The latter meant more to him after playing a significant role in the final minutes.

“Being part of a national championship team was a little different because the team had its own unity when I came in,” Grinnon said. “On the ACC championship team, knowing the fact I played 11 minutes and a part [of the win] with the foul shots and defense showed everybody that I can play. The ACC championship is a little extra special.”

Grinnon also is the last Terp to have also played at Cole Field House before the team moved to Comcast Center in 2002. Both facilities factor into his top memories.

Henry was a campus recreation league player for two years who practiced against the Terps before joining the team in 2002-03. After playing in 18 games over two seasons, Henry was in just five this year before undergoing knee surgery in December. He hasn’t played since, but recently resumed practicing and could get minutes against North Carolina.

“Lot of perseverance, lot of toughness,” Henry said of his career. “It’s been rough the last couple years with basketball and getting my degree, but I made it.”

Henry already has a job offer from PricewaterhouseCoopers after he graduates with a computer engineering degree in May.

“Darien has to start kicking in some money to the program because he has a pretty good job offer out there,” Williams said jokingly.

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