Mark Turgeon may have been hired less than two weeks ago as the next coach of the Maryland Terrapins basketball program, and while he may have been stunned and shocked to be taking another college job in mid May, he is still taking it with the same approach as if he took the position months ago.
In a sense, it did the former Texas A&M, Wichita State, and Jacksonville State coach well for him to finally get the Maryland job because he didn’t know if he could wait any longer for a big-time opportunity to come his way.
And he joined “The Mobtown Sports Beat” Monday-joining Glenn Clark and Thyrl Nelson-to emphasize his anxiousness in moving on out of College Station to a job he considers elite in College Park.
“I didn’t have the patience to wait at Kansas to take that job,” Turgeon said-who was a Jayhawks assistant under both Larry Brown (1987-88) and Roy Williams (1988-92). “And I understand those that felt a Maryland assistant should have got the job. But I have an understanding of how Maryland works.”
In reality, the last two weeks have all been about getting used to a new home in Maryland, picking up the pieces in the recruiting process, and assembling his staff.
And all that work-not just over the last two weeks in moving his life to Maryland, but his journey as a coach-have taken him here to succeed the great Gary Williams.
“I’ve worked my whole life to get a job like Maryland. I turned down jobs at Wichita State, and I believe we can go to the Final Four a lot in the future here.”
But, Turgeon was able to spend a few minutes introducing his game plan for the program.
But it’s not as complex as what you think.
Turgeon said his style of play is winning.
“This is big-time basketball,” Turgeon told Nelson and Clark. “I want to win as many titles as I can. It’s not easy.”
Turgeon, 46, recently took over for longtime Maryland coach Gary Williams-who stepped down after 22 years on the sidelines at College Park.
Turgeon told Nelson and Clark that it’s been strange to imagine he ushering a legend like Gary Williams out of his office down at Maryland, but so far, he says the transition has been smooth to say the least and Williams has been a big part of that.
“Gary knows that he needs to help out,” Turgeon said. “We all want him around to help us along here. Gary wants us to win and is very proud of the program.”
Turgeon-who spent the last four years at Texas A&M where he went 97-40 during his time at College Station, had four NCAA Tournament appearances and won two Big-12 Coach of the Year awards-also is fully capable of his resources as a coach.
“I’ve never thought about it,” Turgeon said of replacing a legend. “I followed Billy Gillispie. I know Gary’s shoes are big to fill, but I have confidence in my ability.”
What he even has more trust in is his newly formed staff, the administration atop of him, and the support of both the school’s body when it comes to he getting the Maryland program back on the map.
“I have even more confidence in the University of Maryland and the tradition of the program,” Turgeon said. “I became a better coach the day I accepted the job. There’s no excuses. We should have everything we need to build a Top-10 ball-club.”
The only issue with that standing in his way? Turgeon knows that he’s going to have to beat the best of the best in the ACC-in this case the Duke’s and North Carolinas led by his former mentor in Roy Williams.
But again, Turgeon felt like the hurdle down on Tobacco Road is nothing different than what he went up against in the Big 12 when it came to powerhouses like Texas and his alma mater in Kansas.
“The ACC really isn’t that much different than the Big 12,” Turgeon said. “Kansas won the league for the last four years. We had those two at the top. Those programs recruit at the same level. It’s definitely a challenge.”
But Turgeon said if they do the same things that the elite programs of the league do-and he didn’t beat around the bush when saying it was recruiting-, he said that any program can beat the elite teams in the country.
“We’re not trying to be Duke or North Carolina,” Turgeon replied. “We’re just trying to be Maryland. If we do it right and get good players, we will be able to play with anyone in the country.”
And one of the biggest things Turgeon has done since he took the job was the news that last week that City guard Nick Faust-one of Gary Williams’ prized young recruits who initially committed to Maryland then asked for a release of his letter of intent after the coaching change-decided to stick it with Turgeon as his coach.
Turgeon couldn’t express enough the importance of keeping guys like Faust in the plans for the University of Maryland, and he said it was just a sign that things aren’t going to change too much between him and Gary Williams.
“Keeping Nick Faust was important,” Turgeon added. “I’m looking forward to working with him and making him even better.”
He compared it to his time coaching in the NBA under Larry Brown-one of several stops under the legendary coach-and having to work with one of the NBA’s biggest stars in Allen Iverson.
“The year in the NBA was great working with Coach Brown and coaching Allen was great,” he said. “He was as good as anybody and very respectful. I’m a big Iverson guy.”
He said dealing with a guy like Iverson helped him relate to the prep athlete in the recruiting process.
“It has helped me handle superstars and be more patient. We will use it in recruiting. We will everything in recruiting.”
And Turgeon said that as soon as he was done with Nelson and Clark, that’s what he was getting right back to doing.
“We’ll make a few phone calls trying to add someone,” Turgeon replied. “We’re looking, but being selective not trying to just fill holes.”
“I got the job May 8th. That’s really late to add a piece. We’ll try JuCo or something looking for a post player. But we will have a great class for the upcoming year.”
WNST thanks Mark Turgeon for joining WNST as we welcomed him to College Park! Check out the interview at the BuyaToyota.com Audio Vault! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!