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Meet the 'Composer of Mayhem' and the Maryland mid-major he built to face Terps


Meet the 'Composer of Mayhem' and the Maryland mid-major he built to face Terps

Seventy miles northwest of College Park, tucked just inside the state of Maryland, south of its border with Pennsylvania, is a program chasing a different flavor of college basketball success.

Two seasons removed from a berth in the NCAA tournament and coming off a year of .500 basketball, Mount St. Mary’s isn’t a national title contender like Maryland is, popping up on Final Four prediction lists across the country.

It is the favorite in the Northeastern Conference this season, built in the way that successful mid-major teams are often built, on the foundation of two all-conference players -- senior Gregory Graves and junior BK Ashe -- and a mix of upperclassmen and underclassmen upon whom the program has placed a developmental emphasis.

They are led by their coach, Jamion Christian, whose upbeat personality fits the up-tempo style that his team plays. Now coaching at his alma mater, the former Virginia Commonwealth assistant who served under now-Texas coach Shaka Smart in Richmond calls himself the “Composer of Mayhem” in his short Twitter biography, a reference to the name given to the program’s patented playing style that features pressure defense and three-point shooting.

He peppers in an occasional coaching cliché when you speak with him, but these somehow don’t feel stale. His answers are full and thorough, yet accessible. For that reason, his words demonstrate why a player of the caliber he recruits would want to sign his name on the dotted line to play for him.

And his team opens its season on Friday against No. 3 Maryland at XFINITY Center in College Park. It’s the next step in Christian’s long-term plan for sustainability -- build a program from the inside, display that program to a national television audience, win the conference, and play in March.

Graduate your players. Repeat.

“We’re striving to become a great mid-major program,” Christian told CSN in an interview on Thursday evening.

“I think every mid-major program out there is looking at Gonzaga and seeing what they’ve done over the last 20 years and it’s amazing. It’s really remarkable. How can we do that?”


Mount St. Mary’s plays a brutal schedule to begin the year, with Maryland only being the start. The Mountaineers then go on the road to Ohio State before facing Washington and No. 9 Gonzaga. All of those games come in an eight-day stretch.

“First two weeks of the season, we’re going to know more about our team than anyone else in the country,” Christian told CSN. “That’s a major value to us.

“Maybe have a loss. Maybe have an embarrassing loss, but maybe have a great win. To get to the highest level, to play at the highest stages, you have to be willing to take a chance.”

On a personal level, Christian is familiar with this Maryland team.

As an assistant at VCU, he watched Terrapins sophomore Melo Trimble on the recruiting circuit.

He offered sophomore wing Jared Nickens a scholarship not only at VCU, but at Mount St. Mary’s as well with long-shot hopes that a player capable of being a sixth man in his freshman season at a Big Ten school would be sold on the idea of being a potential Conference Player of the Year-type talent in the NEC.

Catching one fish like that can change a program at a place like Mount St. Mary's. Such is life on the mid-major recruiting trail.

It's not just those two players, obviously, either. Christian also knows about the depth and the talent and the different ways that the Terrapins can beat you on a given night. But the value of playing the nation’s No. 3 team -- coached by a man, Mark Turgeon, who he deeply respects -- goes beyond that.

“If we play the way we’re capable of, we can play with anyone and that’s what we’ve got to work to get our program to,” he told CSN.

“That’s what everyone’s asking for. Hey, let’s be in the game the last four minutes and then you got a ball game. We’ve got to figure it out. Turgeon will be ripping his jacket off and be all fired up, then we know we’re where we need to be at.”

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Maryland football announces plans to honor the late Jordan McNair during 2018 season

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Maryland football announces plans to honor the late Jordan McNair during 2018 season

University of Maryland football players shared their plans to honor late teammate Jordan McNair this upcoming season Monday morning in College Park. 

This is the first media availability for players granted by the university since the 19-year-old's tragic June death following an offseason workout that left McNair hospitalized due to heatstroke. 

Sophomore center Johnny Jordan and junior offensive lineman Ellis McKennie each outlined how the team will remember McNair, beginning with a moment of silence during the team’s opener Sept. 1 against Texas at FedEx Field.

Additionally, each player will rock helmet stickers with McNair's No. 79 uniform number which the team plans to retire in 2020. The offensive linemen room will also be renamed in honor of McNair. 

On Friday the university's Board of Regents announced it is taking over the in-depth look at investigations surrounding the football program. Head coach DJ Durkin is currently on paid administrative leave and strength and conditioning coach Rick Court resigned August 14. 

As speculation continues to grow, Maryland is expected to have a decision made within the next two weeks



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Tony Dungy weighs in on the alleged toxic culture within the University of Maryland football team


Tony Dungy weighs in on the alleged toxic culture within the University of Maryland football team

Tony Dungy is about as cool, calm and collected as a person can get. And when it comes to his coaching style, it's exactly the same.

Fourteen years in the NFL spent as a defensive coordinator/coach and 13 years as a head coach earned Dungy a Super Bowl Championship with the Indianapolis Colts. He posted an overall record of 148-79 with the foundation that cursing and raising your voice wasn't necessary for success. 

The culture and coaching style of the University of Maryland football team is now under a microscope with the on-going investigation regarding the death of 19-year-old offensive lineman Jordan McNair. The university has taken responsibility for McNair's death after an ESPN article brought to light the abuse and "toxic culture" within the team, and what ultimately led up to McNair's passing under their supervision on May 29. 

It has also brought into question how high-level football teams are coached and if it's all just a part of the football culture. On Thursday, Dungy weighed in on the matter on 106.7 The Fan's Sports Junkies, simulcasted on NBC Sports Washington.

"Well first, I hope we don't just read into well, here was the culture, here's what the coach was doing so that's why this young man died," Dungy said.

Dungy recounted a scenario during his coaching career with the Colts where a player had an underlying condition that almost caused him to lose his life during a practice.

"You can't equate well, this happened because," Dungy went on to say. 

What Dungy does want people to understand is that the tough love, scream-in-your-face type of coaching style is not the stereotype coaches must adhere to. 

"But I do think we are a victim of caricatures. That we think that's the way it has to be."

"One of the last interviews I had before I got my head [coaching] job in Tampa, I was explaining to this owner how I was going to do things. He had heard about my reputation. He said 'I know you don't use profanity. You rarely raise your voice. How are you going to motivate these guys? How are you going to discipline? How are you going to keep guys in line?' And I said the same way my father kept me in line. By saying here's the rules and here's what we're going to do. I'm going to be like that with my players. And the guy looked at me square in the eyes and said 'impossible, that will never work in the NFL.'" 

Well, it did work for Dungy as his tenure spent as a coach in the NFL earned him enshrinement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2016. 

Dungy noted in his interview with the Sports Junkies that the different personalities of coaches in the league highlighted in shows like HBO's Hard Knocks do not represent each and every coach. He mentions Jim Caldwell and Bill Belichick as successful coaches who are more mild-mannered like Dungy.

"And there's a thousand ways that work," Dungy said about coaching. "And you got to be true to your personality and everything. But the two coaches that I played for in the NFL – who won seven Super Bowls between them and were tremendous coaches, Hall of Famers – there was none of that. There was instruction, teaching, motivating, building you up and getting you ready to play, and so that's what I followed."