Fear The Turgeon!
The Slogan “It’s Miller Time” was the talk of College Park on Friday, on the misleading information that Arizona coach Sean Miller was likely to become the Terps next head coach. Well, a t-shirt is finally going to be printed – they’ll probably be sold on street corners around the area – that says “Fear The Turgeon”
After a highly scrutinized coaching search at the University of Maryland, they finally landed their guy…Mark Turgeon. Turg, as I’m sure he’ll be called, may not have been the first choice – or be the most popular. However, we have learned that Maryland targeted six candidates in the search, he was one of those six, and he was recommended by Gary Williams. Nevertheless, a lot of Maryland fans will ask, “Who is this Mark Turgeon?”
While only time will tell who Mark Turgeon is to Maryland, on second glance – this looks like a pretty solid hire to me. First off, Mark Turgeon is 46 years of age (Gary was 44 when he took the Maryland job) and while his name isn’t well known to many, he is considered to be one of the best up-and-coming coaches in the game. Surprising, he is walking away from a Texas A&M team that would have entered the season as a likely top 20 preseason team and been a favorite in the Big 12 (which says a lot for his thoughts on the future of Maryland). Over the past 4 seasons at A&M, all he has does is: make the NCAA tournament all 4 seasons, won at least 24 games each season, and compiled a 97-40 record. His track-record is pretty impressive, while he wasn’t playing in the ACC and the likes of Duke and North Carolina – he may have been playing in a tougher overall conference over those years with opponents like Kansas, Texas, Baylor, and Kansas State. Prior to Texas A&M, Turg coached seven season at Wichita State with 1 NCAA appearance and a 128-90 record, and got his start in 1998 as the Jacksonville State head coach where he stayed for two seasons.
All that sounds pretty good, but Maryland fans and Terrapin supporters will want to know more about this guy, “Who is he?” Mark Turgeon is a Kansas native – in fact, he played Basketball at Kansas from 1984-1987 under then JayHawks coach Larry Brown. While a player at Kansas, he basically began learning the game from Brown – Brown would even ask his advice during games and practices. After he graduated in 1987, he became an assistant coach under Brown at Kansas and would eventually stay there after Brown left for the NBA under Roy Williams until 1992. Turgeon then made his way to Oregon as their top assistant until 1997. Then, before landed the head coaching job at Jacksonville State, he spent the 1997-1998 season in the NBA as an assistant with the Philadelphia 76ers under Larry Brown.
What we really mean by the question “Who is Mark Turgeon?” is – What kind of recruiter is he? Can he win big games? What Kind of offense does he run? You know, all the good stuff. Surely, most of those questions will be answered by his performance over the next few years at Maryland – but..here is what we can say in regards to that.
As a recruiter in the past Turg has been fairly impressive. We can date back all the way to 1995 when at Oregon, he served as recruiting coordinator, and signed two of the top 100 players in the country. More recently, in 2008, he got four-star DeMatha recruit Naji Hibbert (Yes, That DeMatha) to come to Texas A&M. He has had two top 25 recruiting classes while at Texas A&M (more than Maryland during those years).
As far as winning, he has done a nice job winning game over his 13 year coaching career, but he also has shown the ability to knock off ranked team. In 2006 his Wichita State was ranked as high as No.8 in country and won at Syracuse that season. In his first season at A&M, they pulled the upset on No.10 ranked Texas – and over the next three seasons would win a handful of games over top 25 ranked teams.
His coaching style is a little less intense that Gary’s was and its said that his offense is a bit boring, but it’s winning games. Offensively it is not out of the question to win a game scoring in the 50’s but on average the mid 60’s to low 70’s is the range a game will be played in. Defensively, its very rare even in a loss to see his team let the opponent get into the 70’s.
We will find out more about Mark Turgeon as his tenure at Maryland progresses, but Maryland fans should be happy about this hire. It may not have been Jamie Dixon or Sean Miller, but a two-time Big 12 Coach of the Year leaving his top 25 team to head to the University of Maryland in what some might see as a ‘rebuilding’ year is nothing to hang your head about. Over the long term, Turg should make Maryland fans, followers, students, players, and alumni once again say….”Fear The Turtle”