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Turgeon says Terps have tremendous frontcourt depth

Posted on 09 October 2012 by WNST Staff

Quotes from Media Day

Head coach Mark Turgeon

 

On the differences from last year:

“It’s completely different. When I took over the job at Maryland, I didn’t know much about the ACC, but now I have a feel for the league and the coaches and what it takes to be successful at this level. Our coaches are much more comfortable together. We also have some returning players and that helps teach the new players how to do it. And then for the first time this summer we were able to practice together, so we’re much further along than we’ve ever been and I’m much more comfortable standing up here today than I was a year ago.”

 

On the roster and how he feels about it:

“It’s pretty remarkable. We only signed three players early. To be able to add the pieces that we added late has really helped do some things to add depth. I feel comfortable with our team. Pe’Shon [Howard] is healthy, so he has been able to practice at full speed. It’s been a little over a week, so it’s great to have him back. It’s amazing how much better the four returning scholarship players have become, Nick [Faust], Pe’Shon [Howard], Alex [Len] and James [Padgett]. Their improvement and understanding of what the coaching staff wants is great. We feel good, just like every other team in the league. Standing here today compared to a year ago, I feel like we’re much further along, but we’ll see if it translates.”

 

On the freshman standouts this summer:

“The four young kids that are coming in, and Logan, they have all done something. We don’t get a lot of time, only two hours a week, so we had 16 total hours to work with them. The real differences were in the weight room and in conditioning. We saw Shaq shed about 20 pounds and Charles Mitchell shed about 15 pounds. They are totally different players now than they were when we got them in June when they just finished high school. Jake Layman was set back a little bit because he was on the U.S. team. He really had a great September and early October for us. He has come a long ways. Seth Allen is a big time athlete. He is a much better defender than I thought he was. None of them stick out any more than the others. When you sign players, you aren’t really sure, but you hope and I think they are all just a little bit better than I was anticipating, which is a good sign. We still have a long ways to go. Logan Aronhalt had a knee and a back injury all last season, so it affected his summer game a little bit. He also lost some weight and looks good. He’s a big time shooter that has really helped us in practice. Evan Smotrycz can’t play this year, obviously, but he has really practiced well. He’s been to the tournament and knows what it takes, so he has been a great addition.”

 

On the challenges the ACC brings:

“The ACC is a lot better than I thought it was going to be and it’s going to be a lot better when we get down the road. It’s a different league that is longer, taller and a more athletic league than the one I came from. It is a little more of a finesse league than a power league. I wouldn’t say it’s a learning curve, it’s just something to get used to and lets us know who we need to recruit to be successful. We have a style of play that I think no matter what league we play in, we’re going to be successful, and you’re going to start seeing that as time goes on.”

 

On how close the team is to being physical players and great shooters:

“When you’re little, you like big guys around you, so when I was a player at KU I hung around the offensive linemen in case there was any trouble. I like big basketball players. I think skill is what I like most. Guys who can dribble, pass and shoot and understand the game. It just so happened that we signed a couple of bigger guys, Shaq and Charles. We have a tremendous strength and conditioning coach, Kyle Tarp, who does a great job with our guys. I don’t go out and literally look for big and strong guys, I look for good basketball players who know the game and I think we found that. Guys who have instincts for the game – you can’t teach that. Guys either have that or they don’t and we have guys who have that.”

 

On Seth Allen:

“He’s such a dynamic scorer. When the ball is his hands, he can really get it to the rim. He has been shooting better. When you watched him play, you saw that he’s going to be a dynamic player offensively. He plays the ball so sharp and so low. I don’t know what a world-class athlete looks like, but he’s close. He can really cover a lot of ground and he has really good body control.”

 

On how different it will be to have more frontcourt options:

“The good thing is we have James Padgett and Alex Len, so that’s nice. They have both improved tremendously and we know James improved a lot during the season last year. Alex had a tough season when he missed the first 10 games and the language barrier. He’s a totally different player. So, you have those two players who I have a lot of confidence in. You also have Shaq who was highly recruited and he’s a big strong kid who likes to hit things. He’s fun to coach and a great kid. He gives us a dynamic that we didn’t have before and he has lost a lot of weight. He’s now 262 pounds, so now he is an above the rim guy, which is pretty impressive. Charles Mitchell I think is one of the most underrated guys in the country because he was a little overweight but he has a great feel for the game. He had the best practice yesterday because he was at his lowest weight total. We can also move Jake to that position if we had to. We will practice Jake there. We have tremendous depth there.”

 

On team chemistry:

“I think our chemistry is great right now, but we haven’t played a game. The great thing right now is everyone thinks they are starting. Our upperclassmen and returning players have done a great job of accepting our new guys. The guys who are still around have tremendous character and the guys who were recruited also have tremendous character, so they blend together nicely. The guys also don’t have egos, so they look you in the guy and listen to you and the upperclassmen, so when you have that the chemistry is going to be good. The biggest concern of mine was leadership. What I have learned after the last few weeks has been that there are a lot more built-in leaders in our group than I thought. There are guys who will actually lead the team, but then there are guys who are capable of being leaders, so that’s exciting for me. I think we’re on the right track. You can’t fake chemistry. Some teams try to, but I don’t think we will have to. I think it’s going to be tremendous all year. That’s one thing I feel great about.”

 

On expectations of Pe’Shon Howard:

“I expect him to be a heck of a lot better. Sometimes when you are able to practice with a coach, but then get hurt and have to just watch, you become a much better player. Already his leadership skills are much better and he is not as moody on the floor. He has only been back for a week and a half, and we are trying to teach him how to make the easy plays. I expect him to be tremendously better. I would tell him, ‘I know it stinks that you are hurt, but this will help you. Sit back and study me and watch what I want, and understand what the team needs you to do.’ He has been hurt for seven months, but he is already better in the past week and a half than he was at any time last year. “

 

On starting the season with Kentucky:

“I don’t think we will do anything different in preparing. I imagine it has caught the boy’s attention a little bit more. I would like to think they are just excited to be basketball players and to start the season because it goes quickly, but I am sure our guys are excited about that game. It is just a great opportunity for us. John Calipari is a friend of mine, and John was at Kansas when I was a player. Literally I had just landed in Maryland, and I got off the plane and my phone rings ands its Cal and he offers me this game, and it’s a no-brainer for me. As a friend he didn’t have to do that, but I am very appreciative and this is a big game for us. This game will be a great help to prepare us for our season and hopefully for postseason play.”

 

On first impressions of Seth Allen, Jake Layman and Logan Aronhalt:

“It has been up and down, but it has been good. The more we run, the better Jake and Seth are. Logan has a good feel for being in the right spot for us. The young guys, excluding Logan, heads are spinning a little bit because of all of the things being thrown at them. We just try to cram as much as we can in the two hours that we have. We have thrown a lot at them, but I expect them to just keep getting better.”

 

On being off the radar in preseason polls:

“The national spotlight does come as the season moves forward, and we know that we are going to get better and continue to recruit. The head-coaching job at Maryland is a great job, and I expect press to come later. I think we are using it now more as motivation. One magazine had us as pick number 10, and that was all I needed. We will have our opportunities playing against Duke, Northwestern, North Carolina and George Mason. I have coached teams that have been picked eighth and ninth in the NCAA tournament, and hopefully this is one of those teams that can accomplish that. We will have to stay healthily, but with the talent level we have we will definitely have a chance to be a post season team, especially if the players continue to work the way they have been working.”

 

 

On his top priority as the season approaches:

“We will have to get a lot better. I think we have already established things like practicing hard. Even though it has really only been for an hour at a time, we have established that we are going to be tough-minded and a man-to-man defensive team. Are we playing tremendously yet? No, but we are in the process of improving. I think what you will learn about me is that our team is going to continue to grow as the year goes on. November 9th is not very far away, and we have a lot to do between now and then. I imagine neither team is going to be great then because both teams have a lot of new guys, but I imagine both teams will try really hard. Is there one thing? No, there are a lot of things that we need to get better at, but we are on track to getting everything done.”

 

On having Eric Hayes on staff:

“I am so glad that he is here. From day one Eric bought into me being here even though he played for Coach Williams. He loves Maryland and he loves Coach Williams, but he bought into what I am doing and decided he wanted to be a coach. I am in a position to help him become a better instructor, and he will decide over these next two years as he is in graduate school if coaching is something he really wants to pursue. I am sure it has already been an eye-opening experience for him. From day one I have said Maryland basketball is not about me, it is about the players, especially former players. I want to coach for as long as I can, and hopefully get as many former players feeling like they are a part of Maryland basketball every day. I am really glad Eric is here, and right now he has his eyes wide-open trying to learn. He is a great kid, and he will definitely make us better because he can talk to the players and relate more to them because he has been there and done that. He won games while he was here, and that is really important. We have to teach this team how to win at a high level, and Eric will be a big help in doing that.”

 

Senior Guard Logan Aronhalt

 

On transferring as a senior:

“It’s weird. I don’t really know who to turn to for advice because there are not many people that have been in this situation before. I think it’s fun, trying to come in and learn the new guys and learn as much as I can as quickly as possible while leading.”

 

On how he expects to contribute:

“Having [Alex Len, Shaquille Cleare and James Padgett] inside makes my job that much easier. They’re going to clog up the lane and teams are really going to have to double down. If they can create open shots for me, then it makes my job really easy. I think my balance is what I’m going to be out there for.”

 

On choosing Maryland:

“How could I not? It was an awesome experience playing here last year [with Albany]. The campus, the environment, the tradition — it’s amazing.”

 

Sophomore Guard Nick Faust

 

On opening the season against Kentucky:

“We’re looking at it as the first game [of the season], but we’re not putting too much pressure on it. It’s definitely a big game for us. Defeating them would definitely put us on the map from an early start.”

 

On leadership:

“We’ve got guys like Pe’Shon [Howard], [James Padgett] and John Auslander who are older guys. But me being a big contributor to the team [last season], I definitely take on a kind of leadership role to help us become the best we can.”

 

On the team’s chemistry:

“When I first got in last year, I definitely felt as though the team was separated — not separated, but we definitely weren’t as close as we are now. All of us bond together, even the new guys that came in. We’re just more together; we’re one.”

 

Sophomore Center Alex Len

 

On starting the season:

“I’m really excited for this season. We’ve got a lot of new guys, so everybody expects the season to be a lot better than last year.”

 

On the team:

“We’ve got a lot of talent. We will see after the first game against Kentucky where we are as a team.”

 

On starting the season against Kentucky:

“I’m excited for the game. It’s a good challenge for the team. They were the national champions last year, so it’s kind of exciting to play the champions.”

 

 

On adjusting to a new country:

“I had some struggles last year with language; adjusting to a new culture; to the game. Now I feel much more confident than I did last year.”

 

Junior Guard Pe’Shon Howard

 

On rehabbing his knee:

“I’m pretty close. The rehab is picking up; I wouldn’t even call it rehab, I just call it an extra workout. I come here in the morning three days a week. I’m just trying to get my strength back, trying to get my flexibility all the way back. I do most of the workouts; I can pretty much do anything. So it’s just trying to get back in the flow and get my confidence back.”

 

On Nick Faust, Seth Allen and Logan Aronhalt:

“Nick grew up last year playing point guard. The first time I was hurt he was a little shaky, but the second time you saw how he had matured. He played really well. He’s not just one of the better players in the ACC, but he’s one of the better point guards in the ACC.

 

“Seth came in and he’s really talented. I don’t know if people knew that. He’s going to help us a lot this year; he’s really explosive. He knows the game, he can make plays and he’s not really shy. He’s really aggressive, kind of like how Terrell [Stoglin] and I were my freshman year.

 

“Logan can really shoot it. He comes from a winning team, so he helps everyone out a lot with the mindset. It’s a good fit for all of them.”

 

On the physicality of the team:

“Last year, when we played North Carolina, we hung in there with them. Just at the end of the game, their physicality, their length and strength; they kind of wore us down. With the team now, I think we have a team that can compete with that. You see the guys we have now, they’re long, and they’re strong. Our defense is going to be able to stretch the floor. We’re going to be able to rebound and get out and have an up-tempo style. Once everybody gets adjusted to the little things we do as Maryland Basketball, how we box out and things like that, I’m really excited for the team and what we can do.”

 

On team chemistry:

“I think we all knew coming in that chemistry was going to be a main thing we had to work on. It was a big adjustment because there are so many new faces, but everyone is on the same page. Everyone is looking to win games and play their hardest, so I think that is why it is so easy for us all to gel. We are always together; everyone lives next door to each other so we are always hanging out together. Our chemistry is stronger than I ever thought it could be. Coach really looks at the players he recruits to make sure everyone fits.”

 

On biggest team improvement from last year:

“Everything has improved from last year. Physically and mentally everyone is stronger. We all have the same goal; everyone wants to win. Physically, we are a lot longer, stronger and faster. We have much more depth in our team this year; we have a lot of talented athletes. We really have a full team now.”

 

On the benefit from sitting out for most of last season:

“It really helped me grow up. I was able to sit back and watch and learn what kind of person coach wanted running his team. I was able to learn a lot from sitting on the sidelines, and I am now able to translate that knowledge to the court.”

 

On being coached by Mark Turgeon for one year:

“I feel like I have a head start on a lot of the players. I am not as far back in the learning process, so I can personally push ahead a little further. We aren’t just learning basic plays anymore; we are able to get deeper into the playbook. Coach doesn’t have to spend as much time on basic instruction anymore.”

 

Sophomore guard/forward Dez Wells

 

On attending the University of Maryland:

“It’s like a home away from home. It was an easy choice for me to make.”

 

On his new teammates:

“When you go through something like I did, you always want to be around those who have your best interest at heart. It made it a lot easier on me. [I] didn’t have to worry about finding people up here who I could trust, because I already had them up here. It just made everything so much easier to transition on the court. I knew a lot of the guys from AAU. “

 

On his best friend Terps’ WR Nigel King and his new teammates: 

“Nigel King has helped me a lot. He’s my best friend in my whole life. [I’ve] known Nick Faust for four years now. He helped me a lot; he’s just been there for me if I ever need anything. Just come in and feel comfortable right away. On the court, that comes naturally. Off the court has been the hardest part for me.”

 

On what he brings on and off the court to the team:

“Just a voice of reason. Somebody who’s been in really, really tough games, tough away games, who’s played against some really good teams and has played with really good players. I’ve been on teams with great players, so I know how you have to respond in games, to every possession. The intensity and the attention to detail was the most important things I learned. I can be an extension of coach Turgeon on the court.”

 

Freshman guard Seth Allen

 

On what he is most excited for this season:

“I am most excited for the Kentucky game, being able to play with all the fans and representing Woodbridge and Maryland.”

 

On practice:

“We’re learning plays and everyone is getting better with team chemistry, so it’s coming along.”

 

On why he committed to Maryland:

“I really trusted coach Turgeon. You always have to trust your coach in college because they get you where you want to go after college basketball wise. A point guard and a coach really have to be close together, so I really trusted him. He also got along with my family, I’m a big family guy, and it’s close to them so they can come watch me play. So those are big keys for me coming here.”

 

On Pe’Shon Howard’s return:

“He’s been playing great. He’s happy he has returned. He has a lot of energy and he understands he’s coming off a knee injury, so it’s a little sore and stuff. He knows his body better than anyone else, so he knows what he can and cannot do, but being fully cleared is great. He’s like a brother to me, so it’s like having your brother on the court. We go together really well.”

 

Freshman Center Shaquille Cleare

 

On dealing with pressure: 

“Being a college athlete, you’re going to be under the spotlight regardless. I mean, the attention is going to be fine. I’m just here to play basketball, and hang banners for the University of Maryland. Attention will come with that, but I’m prepared for it. I don’t go with the hype. I just want to come in here and work hard, and do what Coach Turgeon asked me. People are saying they expect great things from me, but I just try to stay positive and work hard every day.”

 

On James Padgett’s leadership:

“James has been a big brother for us ever since we came on campus this summer. He’s proven himself to be a great leader, and a great team captain. We look up to James a lot. During the summertime, I was struggling with the offense and defense, and he would pull me aside, put his arm around me, and teach me the right way to do things. He’s experienced and he’s played on the collegiate level for four years. I look up to James a lot. He’s been a great leader for this team, and for myself.”

 

On his transition to the college game:

“The game is more physical, and that’s my kind of game. I’m a physical player, and I’ll enjoy playing in the ACC.”

 

Freshman Forward Jack Layman

 

On what he can bring to the team:

“I think I can bring my shooting. We need that this year. We need somebody to knock down shots, and I can bring that.”

 

On what he needs to work on:

“For me, it’s just knowing every play perfectly so I can run the offense fluidly.”

 

On how his experience playing for the national team helped him:

“It definitely got me ready for the speed and physicality of the game. I have a lot to look forward to, so it should be good.”

 

Junior Forward John Auslander

 

On how he can contribute to the team:

“I just want to help the team, and take on more of a leadership role. I think it’s important that I start being more vocal and helping guys, because I do know what Coach [Turgeon] wants: help them understand the principles that we’re trying to instill, and just keep bringing it in practice with energy.”

 

On why he is respected in the locker room:

“The biggest thing is knowledge of the game. If you understand what Coach wants and it’s instinctual to you, the guys can see it. Also, if you’re bringing it every day, and also trying to get others to bring it, it’s huge. I think it’s rubbed off, and people have started to respect my opinions.”

 

Senior Forward James Padgett

 

On the depth inside:

“It’s pretty tough. We’ve got a lot more guys in the rotation. Shaq [Cleare] is pretty big, Chuck [Mitchell] is pretty big, and Alex [Len] is getting better as the days go on. It’s pretty competitive inside.”

 

On helping the freshmen transition to the college game:

“Teach them the little ins and outs. Try to teach them where to be. Things they can do to make the games simpler. Slow the game down for them. Help them understand plays. Just do whatever I can, like a big brother would.”

 

On becoming a better leader:

“I have to speak up, give everyone advice, help everyone when I can. If I see something wrong, I have to tell them what they were doing wrong, and how they can correct it. We have a lot of young guys, and I know more than they do because I’ve been around for a couple years. Just try to help out, and be as much of a leader as I can.”

 

- Terps -

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