New Maryland Basketball Coach Mark Turgeon Believes Terrapins Job Provides Best Opportunity He’s Had to Make the Final FourMay 11, 2011 – 5:45 am by Steven Cuce
After a seemingly long string of rejections from coaches across the country, the Maryland athletics department was able to turn the page on a new era of men’s basketball at College Park on Monday night. The Terrapins unsuccessfully pursued Notre Dame’s Mike Brey, Arizona’s Sean Miller, Pittsburgh’s Jamie Dixon, Butler’s Brad Stevens and Villanova’s Jay Wright before Kevin Anderson, Maryland’s rookie athletic director, finally found his man down in College Station to lead the Terrapins into a new era of hoops history.
Mark Turgeon may not be the legendary Gary Williams, and it will naturally and rightfully take time for some fans to fully welcome Sturgeon. But Terps fans shouldn’t be turned off by his resume. He has coached some tournament ready teams at Texas A&M and Wichita State, and you’ll be hard pressed to find too many instances of his teams going through prolonged stretches of failure. To do so at his new job, Sturgeon has his work cut off for him in terms of keeping top shelf local talent in the College Park playground.
Mark Turgeon joined The Scott Van Pelt Show on ESPN Radio to discuss his emotions as he decided to leave Texas A&M and take the heading coaching position at Maryland, if former mentors like Roy Williams played a role in taking the Maryland coaching position even in an indirect but influential way, and how his first priority as coach of the Maryland Terrapins will be to rebuild his staff to better compete in the hyper-competitive recruiting wars for local-area talent.
Describe the gamut of emotions you ran as you went from College Station to College Park?
“It’s tough Scott [Van Pelt] and it’s unfortunate the way these college coaching searches go. It has to happen quick. You try to be private, but with social media today it doesn’t get that way. I’ve been on Maryland’s campus, but you really don’t have time to go on the campus as a family, but I’ve been here and know it’s a beautiful place. It was a tough day yesterday. I was at Maryland. I was at Texas A&M. I was at Maryland. I was Texas A&M. It was a tough day just back-and-fourth and the hardest part whenever you leave is saying goodbye to your players for a lot of reasons. One because they chose that university and it’s a great university and also because of you. At [Texas] A&M we had a lot of success and we won a lot of games. It was because of them. I had a chance to get involved in a great job like Maryland, so it was a tough part of the day, telling the family, telling your kids is really emotional and tough too, then you get the wife involved. It’s an emotional time. Each day as we go on will get a little easier.”
How much did your former coaching mentor Roy Williams have a role in you making this decision? Was he an influence?
“A lot of people had a role in this thing. I think I first heard on Thursday morning that Gary [Williams] was going to be stepping down and a guy called me and asked would I be interested [in the heading coaching position]? It kinda of got my juices flowing a little bit knowing I might not be their first choice at the time and so I thought about it. Roy Williams, Larry Brown, guys that were big mentors for me were just adamant about Maryland and this job. I felt knowing what I know about college basketball that it was a top ten or fifteen job in the country or potentially better with so many players in the area. You look at a George Mason has done and VCU going to the Final Four. Of course Maryland a few years ago [went to the Final Four]. George Mason went to the Final Four from this area. Richmond was in the Sweet Sixteen. It’s just a great area for basketball players and if you work hard enough you got kids to get to the highest level, being a former player at Kansas and playing at the highest level and being a part of Final Fours. It was something I really want to be a part of again. Maryland gives me the best chance to do that.”
When you look at all of the talent around campus it hadn’t been staying recently. Is that something you feel like was made a priority to you when you took this job?
“Absolutely. One of the hardest things I have to do is change my staff. I had a Mid-West staff and now I’m going to have to change my staff. I’m not only leaving a few players behind. I’m leaving a few coaches behind. That made this decision really difficult for me. Guys who have been real loyal to me, but I have to get an East Coast coaching staff of people who know the area and know all the right people and all the right connections to make sure we’re keeping the players we want home and playing for Maryland.”