Your Monday Reality Check-Turgeon Deserving Of Praise With Work To Do

March 12, 2012 | Glenn Clark


On Friday’s edition of “The Reality Check”, Ryan Chell and I decided to put together a Maryland Terrapins season ending report card. After the Terps’ loss to North Carolina in the ACC Tournament, it was easy to assume the basketball season was over in College Park.

That assumption proved accurate Sunday night, as the NIT failed to extend an invite to the Terps as expected. The University of Maryland declined to participate in the lesser known postseason CBI Tournament due to the financial model that forces schools to pay for participation. (Three schools from BCS conferences-Washington State, Pitt and Oregon State all accepted CBI bids.)

It’s a long winded way to say the season is over. The Terps finished 17-15 in Mark Turgeon’s first season since taking over for the retired Gary Williams, surpassing the expectations of many while still falling short of the expectations of others.

In our Report Card segment Friday, I graded Turgeon’s job in year one as a “B”. I noted the lack of both quality and quantity in Maryland basketball players that Turgeon was forced to deal with partly due to the late timing of Williams’ retirement announcement. Not only did Maryland lose All-ACC Center Jordan Williams to the NBA, they also lost F Haukur Palsson to a pro turn in Europe. Turgeon was only able to retain one from Williams’ three-man recruiting class (G Nick Faust) although he made up for that in part with a late commitment from C Alex Len.

(I point all of this out because some Maryland fans have decided to “blame” Gary Williams for the state of the program. They’re only telling half of the story.)

Len’s 10 game suspension to start the season and PG Pe’Shon Howard’s 18 missed games due to injury made an already difficult situation nearly impossible. Entering the season, there was legitimate reason to fear a “bottoming out” of sorts for the Maryland program.

While those fears never came to fruition, the team never fully came together. Sophomore G Terrell Stoglin at times carried the Terps during a 6-10 Atlantic Coast Conference campaign, but often proved to be as much of the problem as the solution. Len never showed progress during his freshman campaign, Senior G Sean Mosley offered valuable leadership but never overwhelmed with his play on the floor. The only player that showed marked progress was Faust, who was named to the league’s All-Rookie team.

All of these were contributing factors in grading the job Turgeon did this season. It was a tough campaign, but it could have been significantly worse. Turgeon deserves credit for keeping the program afloat and avoiding any true embarrassment. (Only a late season loss at Georgia Tech stands out as a head shaker due to the opponent and Maryland’s most lopsided defeats came at the hands of NCAA Tournament participants like UNC, Duke, Virginia, Florida State, Alabama and Iona.)

Nearly five hundred words in, it’s time to look to the future. While Turgeon is absolutely deserving of praise for how he kept this Maryland team together in his first season, the coach offered a noteworthy thought Sunday night via Twitter.

3 Comments For This Post

  1. joe of bel air Says:

    Glenn: I am one of the fans you refer to earlier as wanting to blame Gary Williams for the state of the Maryland basketball program. Who the hell else is there to blame for it. It’s hard to believe that only 10 years ago Maryland was cutting down the nets at the NCAA finals. In fact Gary would have been wis eto have retired after that game because he did very little in the way of recruiting the last 6-7 years he was at Maryland. The team failed to make the tournament in 4 of the last 7 years he was head coach. Then after Jordan Williams leaves he announces his retirement leaving Turgeon with no time to reccuit. Williams knew Maryland would be hard pressed to play 500 ball with the cast of characters he had left at Maryland and that is why he bailed on Maryland. It was obvious that Garyland lost his taste for being a head coach in this day and age with having to deal with AAU coaches and parents who think their kid is the next Magic Johnson, not to mention the recruits who have a what can you do for me mentality. By all means Glenn please feel free to explain more fully why Maryland has missed the NCAA tournament in 5 of the last 8 years if it wasn’t Gary’s fault.

    (Edit from GMC: Half the story. Had Gary not retired, Maryland would have had three more scholarship players this season-allowing for a greater possibility to reach the Tournament. Moreover, it ISN’T Gary’s fault that Jordan Williams decided to leave despite the fact that it was clearly too early for him to go. The other 7 years did include NCAA Tournament misses, but they also included an ACC Championship. So was that Gary Williams’ fault too?)

  2. joe of bel air Says:

    Glenn: You have always been an apologist for Gary Williams. I will give him credit for winning an ACC championship just as I will give him the blame for missing the tournament for 4 of the last 7 years he was at Maryland. I dare you to name one other college who won the NCAA tournament in the last 25 years who have had as abysmal record as Maryland has had in the decade since they won it. Truth be known Gary should have called it quits years ago instead of waiting until the cubbard was bare before walking away and leaving Mark Turgeon with nothing.

    (Edit from Glenn: Nolan Richardson. Jim Harrick. Tubby Smith. Should I keep going or do you just want to tuck your tail between your legs?)

  3. joe of bel air Says:

    Glenn, you just made my point. Gary Williams is on par with the gentlemen you just mentioned (Harrick,Richardson and Smith)none of whom, the last time I looked, were in the Hall of Fame and will not be anytime soon.Just admit it Glenn that Garyland did a poor job the last 7 years he was at Maryland, both as a coach and recruiter. Obviously his heart was no longer in it.

    (Edit from GMC: The guy won both an ACC Tournament and regular season title in that stretch. If you just want to keep ignoring that, be my guest. I unfortunately have to base my opinion in fact. Gary Williams’ recruiting is only half of the issue, as his style allowed him to coach up lesser talent. Giving Gary Williams kids to another coach allows for trouble.)

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