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Talking with Maryland Terps' Basketball Coach Mark Turgeon

Oct 12, 2012 09:52PM ● Published by Anonymous

The 47-year-old Turgeon sounds confident Maryland will improve this season thanks to a Top-20 freshmen class (according to insider analysts). A return to the NCAA Tournament would be a return to form. He led Texas A&M to the NCAAs and won at least 24 games in each of his four seasons there before coming to College Park. He also coached eight seasons at Wichita State.

Turgeon can't talk about his coaching success without mentioning his mentors—college coaching giants Larry Brown and Roy Williams—and we learn why in our one-on-one.

How did you get into coaching? Did you always see yourself doing this?

During my freshman year at Kansas, I broke the assist record. I thought I was really good. Coach Brown asked me what I wanted to do. I said, "I want to play in the NBA." He said, "You got no chance. I think you will be a good coach."

From that time on, I thought about being a college coach. Not a high school coach. Not a pro coach. But a college coach. I was lucky after I finished playing. Coach Brown kept me on his staff. Then he left for the [San Antonio] Spurs and I was at a crossroads. Thank God Coach Williams came in and hired me. Who knows where my life would have gone if he hadn't.

What did you learn from Larry Brown and Roy Williams?

Coach Brown always taught me to do things the right way even if you were six inches out of place. He was just a perfectionist. I learned that from him. Coach Williams taught me at a young age how to learn how to compete in college. When you are going from player to coach, you have to learn to compete. Coach Williams also taught me how to run an offense, recruit, and treat people. He taught me a lot. They were two different coaches, but great in their own right.

Your freshmen recruiting class has been ranked among the top-20 in the country. Is it that good with the likes of bruising center Shaquille Cleare and guard Sam Cassell, Jr., the son of the long-time NBA player?

I think it has a chance to make a huge impact at Maryland or at least we expect it too. I think we are on the right track with this class. (Three of these kids we signed, we recruited at Texas A&M. Shaquille Cleare, Seth Allen, and Jake Layman.) So these are kids we had identified. We thought they were really good players. It helped us that we were able to add a couple more pieces. But I don't like to judge a recruiting class until they are done. I think what we did is add character and a lot of really good kids. I think we added some skill and a lot of size.

When you came to Maryland, did you have to step up your recruiting efforts competing against Duke, North Carolina, and the rest of the ACC?

I don't know if you have to step it up. When you are at Maryland, you are automatically involved with good players. You learn how to recruit and work at those levels. In the end, you are selling yourself, playing time, and the program. Every kid that we are going to sign now, they are excellent players.

What will be different in your second year? Are you more comfortable? Will your players know your system better?

I only have four returning scholarship guys. It's almost like starting over again. I think our talent level is a little better. I think we will be a little bit deeper. We will have 10 guys on scholarship. Last year, we had nine and early in the season, we had seven and took walk- ons. But the coaches are more familiar. Having four scholarship players and two walk-ons returning, we have six players that can teach the new guys. We will be further along and the talent level will be better. We will know the league a lot better and the coaches a lot better. I think we should coach better.

Is this year's team closer to making the NCAA tournament?

Do we have a chance to be a good team? Yes. Yes, we do. You can win with young kids in college basketball today. We expect to win, compete, and be good. What determines a successful season is if you get the most out of the team you possibly can. We have to stay healthy. Last year, we had some bad breaks.

Your best player, Terrell Stoglin, went to the NBA. How do you replace his production?

It will be tough to replace him. He is one of the best guys I have been around with the ball in his hands. We have to do it by committee. I think we will be more balanced team. I think you will see a lot of times this year we will have four, five, or six guys in double figures in scoring.

What do you do in the offseason for fun?

Fun for me is spending time with my kids. I have young kids. They are 12, eight, and six. Boy, girl, boy. I just want to be around them and my wife. Whether it's at a sporting event or going to a movie, or just being around them is what I do. We go on vacation together and see family, cousins. We do that for fun in the summer.

What charities are you involved with?

I have done a lot with Coaches Versus Cancer. I did an event back in Kansas [for] juvenile arthritis. One of my buddies who I played with in college, his daughter, has it. It was their biggest fundraiser of the year. One I will probably get into a little more as I get older is Alzheimer's. I lost my father-in-law to Alzheimer's. It's just part of the job. It's what you do. You are on a platform. You get a chance to help people and raise money for organizations.

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