Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Maryland hires Mark Turgeon

The Maryland basketball coaching search to replace Gary Williams started with names like Sean Miller, Jay Wright, Jamie Dixon, Brad Stevens, and others, in some order. Miller considered taking the job, though the others never really did. In the end, Maryland offered the job to Texas A&M coach Mark Turgeon, who accepted and is officially coming to College Park.

Turgeon isn't considered to be the home-run hire that Miller, Wright, or Stevens (etc.) would have been. He also doesn't have many ties to the East Coast. Take a look:

1987–1992 Kansas (asst.)
1992–1997 Oregon (asst.)
1997–1998 Philadelphia 76ers (asst.)
1998–2000 Jacksonville State
2000–2007 Wichita State
2007–2011 Texas A&M

He was an assistant under Larry Brown at Kansas for several seasons and with the 76ers for one season. He also helped to turn around the programs at Jacksonville State, Wichita State, and Texas A&M in varying amounts of time. By all accounts, he's a hard worker, a solid coach, a family man, and someone who wants to be at a place that cares immensely about basketball. Oh, and he wins games -- he has a career record of 250-159.

Here's a great take on the move by ESPN's Eamonn Brennan:
It's fair to say those excited Terrapins fans, who spent the last week hearing their program described as a sleeping giant by every anonymous source in the country -- not to mention followed as their AD met with Miller in Las Vegas Saturday -- might have hoped for something a bit more, well, exciting.

By all the barometers we usually associate with that word, Turgeon doesn't qualify. To date, he hasn't regularly recruited blue-chip prospects; more often, his players are unheralded workers who develop throughout their multi-year careers. Texas A&M plays a slow, deliberate style. Turgeon's press conference demeanor can be rather like his teams: quiet, sparse and even downright boring.

To be clear, those aren't bugs or features. They're just who Turgeon is.

The important thing here, the one that really matters, is this: At the bottom of it all, Maryland fans are like any other. They want to win basketball games. Mark Turgeon wins basketball games, and he does so at places with far fewer institutional advantages than Maryland. It's really just that simple.

And so a new era begins in College Park -- not with a bang, necessarily, but certainly not with a whimper. Maryland fans be forgiven if they need a moment to get to know Turgeon, but the more they see of him, the more they'll grow to appreciate the coach's clinical solidity and drama-free approach. They'll appreciate [Maryland athletic director Kevin] Anderson's efforts in making this hire.
Following Gary Williams won't be easy, but Turgeon knows how to build a program the right way and win games. That's all fans can ask for.

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