Your Monday Reality Check: Happy for Turgeon but hardly sympathetic

February 18, 2013 | Glenn Clark

For what felt like the first time in the Mark Turgeon era, Comcast Center housed an incredible, big-game, “I swear to God I’m not sure the roof will be able to take this” atmosphere Saturday night as the University of Maryland stunned #2 (#1 according to the coaches) Duke 83-81.

It was an incredible night. The game itself was captivating, as the Terrapins completely squandered a late 10 point lead before two Seth Allen free throws saved them. There was controversy in officiating, a high level of intensity and physicality from players and a number of big time shots made by likely future NBA players like Seth Curry, Alex Len and Quinn Cook.

But even more captivating was the atmosphere in the building, which reached a Gary Williams era-esque “fever pitch” at multiple times. Celebrities, dignitaries and former Terps filled the building, students arrived hours early and delivered a charming first half flash mob before emptying onto the floor (and College Park’s Route 1) following the victory.

It was a two and a half hour frenzy, a feeling that remained palpable even as I watched the replay of the game Sunday night on ESPNU.

The victory was emotional for a number of reasons. It was emotional because it was a throwback to a decade ago, when the level of the Maryland-Duke series rivaled even Duke-North Carolina as the best in the entire sport. It was emotional because it gave a major shot in the arm to the fledgling NCAA Tournament hopes of a Terps team in danger of missing out on March Madness for a third consecutive season. It was emotional because there is clearly a renewed level of bad blood between the programs based on Maryland’s decision to bolt the ACC in favor of the Big Ten. In the week leading up to the game Blue Devils coach Mike Krzyzewski made it clear Duke wouldn’t be continuing a series with the Terps after the conference change happened and after the game he continued to fire shots in the direction of a program that helped to put the ACC on the map.

But it was incredibly emotional in particular for head coach Mark Turgeon, who had yet to record a “signature” win as he began the homestretch in his second season in College Park. Students rushed the floor following the Terps’ win over then-Number 14 North Carolina State earlier in the season, but even at the time the win felt a bit flimsy. Maryland had made a habit out of knocking off top ranked teams under Williams but hadn’t made a similar level of national noise yet under Turgeon.

Yet when asked about what the win meant to him, Turgeon offered an unpredictable answer.

“It’s been a hard week”, Turgeon started while fighting back tears. “I take a lot of pride in my coaching. I don’t do a lot of things well, but I’d like to think I can coach a little bit and I haven’t done a very good job.”

“It’s been a hard week on my family. It was hard on my son. Last week he had to leave the gym because the fans were so hard on his dad.”

The coach then motioned in the direction of his son and noted pointedly “this was for them.” He continued by saying “I got a loyal family. It’s very loyal to me.”

Perhaps the biggest takeaway from Turgeon’s postgame press conference was his simplistic “I wanted to beat Duke” statement (which every Maryland fan everywhere echoes at just about all times), but the story about his son was clearly the most emotional.

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7 Comments For This Post

  1. Donta Says:

    IMO its too early to give Turgeon a pass or fail grade that is acturate at this point. Your column is very good though Glenn but lets take another look at this guy in year 4 and see where the program sits. Baltimore is the 21st radio market(Top 25)27th TV market (Top 30).

  2. Steve From Sandpoint Says:

    Glenn, it’s all & only about winning. If he starts winning with consistency the booing will stop. As with Cam Cameron, you don’t win your gone, pretty simplistic; he gets paid pretty good money so you either deal with it or you move on.

  3. Tim Says:

    I think Turgeon is doing awesome. I was a bit weary at first but that’s because I was so used to Gary that I think I developed a bit of desperation anxiety. Fans are fickle and will always be. I’m surprised that folks have been booing him at all because as a coach at least for me he gives me everything I need. He recognizes that a team needs role players (aronhalt), he’s active in recruiting, and he’s not afraid to be honest. He’s been quick on a couple of occasions even after a loss of making it clear that its not perfect and I like that because I know that he knows that there are issues. And because of that we will get better. Coaches coach and players play and fortunately more that unfortunately our team is young yeah they make dumb mistakes but soon those mistakes will turn to success


  4. Unitastoberry Says:

    Too bad this win wasn’t in the final four.

  5. Donta Says:

    Note to Maryland fans you can boo but its not like the program has been great the 6 years or so before Turgeon got there. Gary`s recurting issues had started to become a major issue. So let`s not get carried away the national title was 11 years ago.

  6. Donta Says:

    They are where they have been the lsat decade middle of the road and struggling to make the NCAA tourney most seasons the last 10 years or so.

  7. GlenW Says:

    It is disappointing that fnas boo at a game when the Terps are competative. Glenn is right about anger being better than apathy. The program is lost when that happens. I’ve seen it for the last seven years in Houston. The Cougars are barely making 10% capacity, and I guessing that because the attendance figures aren’t published anymore.

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