Who Is Mark Turgeon?

Who Is Mark Turgeon?

The question that many Maryland fans are beginning to ask themselves is not Who is this Maryland team? or Who is Melo Trimble? They understand this is a team that starts three freshmen and is extremely perimeter oriented. The question that begs answers and is weighing on Terp fans minds is, Who is Mark Turgeon?

 

Turgeon has turned this program around in the last three years. He inherited lacking talent when Gary Williams left and had to begin the process of rebuilding. In his first few years however, he swung and missed on the players he brought in. Nick Faust, Shaquille Cleare, Seth Allen, Charles Mitchell, and Roddy Peters all ended up transferring and having success in some way elsewhere. Peters success was very limited because he has since been dismissed from South Florida and transferred again to Nicholls State. So after the first few seasons, Turgeon was in desperate need of a turn around. Since the Terps have entered Big Ten play in 2014-2015, they have finished top three in conference play and made it to the semifinals in back-to-back seasons. This may have been what saved Mark Turgeon’s job. In his first three years at Maryland, he was just 59-43 with zero NCAA tournament appearances and just a trip to the NIT semifinals under his belt.

 

The success since joining Big Ten play has reinvigorated the fans and even brought back in the casual fan that slowly departed after the lack of success after the national title year in 2002. The problem that has begun to arise is that fans are starting to believe Turgeon is limited as a coach and is just a good recruiter. Turgeon has done many positive things in recent seasons. He has brought in talented transfers and recruits, and he has made Maryland relevant once again. These are all great things, but what seems to be lacking is the development of individual players’ skills, as well as the lack of consistent play on offense specifically. The players that came in have slowly developed or not at all, including all of the transfers mentioned above, plus Michal Cekovsky, Damonte Dodd, Jared Nickens, and some would even argue Melo Trimble.

 

Let’s look at the coach that Turgeon is, not who he is not. Turgeon is a player’s coach. He gives his players a lot more freedom than other coaches do. When a coach does this it can help generate better camaraderie between teammates, but it can also backfire. In the first few years of his career at Maryland, it backfired. Some would even argue that it backfired last year, as the team seemed more focused on their payday than playing as a cohesive unit. Overall, since Maryland has entered the Big Ten, they have unarguably been successful as a team. Yes, everyone expected more last year with the immense talent on the team, but they also ran into a very good and balanced Kansas squad. This was the first year Maryland made the sweet sixteen since 2003, when Steve Blake led the squad. Turgeon has led Maryland to back-to-back NCAA tournaments and will do so again this year. Even toward the end of Gary’s admired reign, the team was very inconsistent in making the NCAA tournament. Nevertheless, Turgeon has provided some stability to that now, especially since he has brought in the right players in recent years.

 

Unfortunately for Turgeon, the future for this Maryland team appears to be vulnerable. Turgeon has had limited success in post-season play. In eighteen seasons as a head coach, Turgeon has made the NCAA tournament only seven times. In those seven seasons, he has led his teams to just two sweet sixteen’s- including one sweet sixteen game where he lead Wichita State by making a Cinderella run back in 2006. Turgeon’s teams seem to peak early in the season. This has also been shown while he has been at Maryland. His teams have won four straight early season tournaments, the Paradise Jam in 2013, the CBE Hall of Fame Classic in 2014, the Cancun Challenge in 2015, and the Barclays Center Classic this season. This all points back to the freedom he gives his players, especially on offense. Teams in early season play are still a work in progress; many teams struggle. Turgeon’s teams thrive in those situations. His players find ways to make plays and their freedom of play in the offense ends up working out for the better. You can get away with this in early season play. Once teams start improving and getting better is when other teams get exposed. This exposure has been happening to the Terps in recent seasons. They have become stagnant on offense later in the year and rely very heavily on perimeter-oriented play. Several examples of this are Terrell Stoglin, Seth Allen, Dez Wells and Melo Trimble. How many times since Turgeon has been coach do you see possessions in under ten seconds where the play ends with a pick and roll at the top of the three-point line where a guard forces a three or a drive to the basket? Maryland’s offense has been the same since Turgeon has been there; he just has better offensive weapons than when he started. One area where he has improved is drawing up plays after timeouts and in bound plays under the basket. In the past couple of seasons, Maryland’s execution has been leaps and bounds better than previous years.

 

All of this is not to deem Turgeon a failure. He has shown improvement over the years and also an ability to recruit at a level that his predecessor could not. He gets the most out of his players and gets them to buy in. Turgeon is still evolving as a coach, and he is only 52 years old and appears to have a lot left in the tank. For right now what you see is what you get in Coach Turgeon. You get a coach that has been extremely competitive since joining a new conference. You get a coach that loves being at Maryland. You get a coach that will bring in some of the best talent Maryland has had in the past 25 years. Yes, he is still a work in progress as far as X’s and O’s; but he will improve, as all good coaches do.

 

Since losing five of their last seven games, supporters have turned into haters at a rapid rate. Once the grumbling and complaining is silenced, Terp fans need to realize he just took a team that lost four pro’s last year and replaced them with three starting freshman and led them to the best start in Maryland’s storied history at 20-2.

 

So who is Mark Turgeon? That is up to him to decide.

Melo Guides The Terps Past Rutgers 67-55

Melo Guides The Terps Past Rutgers 67-55

 

 

College Park, MD – Melo Trimble led Maryland past Rutgers 67-55. Melo had been battling a sickness the previous few days before this contest. Quite honestly, it was hard to tell. Melo looked like his normal and steady self. He made some timely shots and was the veteran presence the Terps (18-2, 6-1) needed to pull away in the second half. Rutgers (12-9, 1-7) showed great toughness. They guarded hard all night and forced the Terps into many ugly turnovers, 18 to be exact. Rutgers had a tough time getting into any offensive flow. They really struggled from the foul line going just 10-24. If Rutgers could have made just even a handful more free throws, this game could have gotten interesting. Coach Steve Pikiell has his team doing all the right things to succeed in time. Once more talent comes through, Rutgers should compete in the middle of the pack of the Big Ten.

 

Melo Trimble proved that no matter the circumstances he is a leader on the court for Maryland. Coach Mark Turgeon said he had no idea how Trimble would feel, because the day before he looked terrible. Sickness does not always stop a player from playing at a high level. Some players rise through it and play at a high level, that is exactly what Melo did. Melo finished with a game high of 17 points, 3 three-pointers, six rebounds, four assists and five turnovers. The other main contributor for the Terps was Kevin Huerter. The freshman guard continues to show that he has a tremendous feel for the game. He see’s the passing lanes like few players do. Many times he passes the ball to open teammates and they have no clue it’s coming because they don’t even realize they are open. Huerter impacts the game for the Terps in so many ways. He defends at a high level, and helped limit Corey Sanders to 15 points, on 5-19 shooting. Huerter is a very solid rebounder as well. Despite not being the biggest or most physical presence (6’7 190) he led the team in rebounds with eight. Huerter has such a versatile skill set and is destined to be a solid contributor for the Terps for many years to come, as long as he stays in college. Huerter finished with eleven points, eight rebounds and six assists.

 

Another contributor for the Terps was Damonte Dodd. Dodd had eight points, five rebounds and three blocks.

 

The guard play for Rutgers is what fuels them. They rely way too much on sophomore guard Corey Sanders (6’2 181) and junior guard Nigel Johnson (6’1 186). Sanders is a very explosive scoring guard. He struggles with his outside shot and shooting jumpers in general. He is much more comfortable attacking off the dribble or off of the pick and roll. He turns the corner hard in pick and roll, and has great leaping ability allowing him to rise over defenders or perform acrobatic lay-ins. Sanders struggled shooting in this game, but a lot of that may be due to the fact that his team has only one other scoring option, Nigel Johnson. Sanders was shadowed by Huerter in the second half and that is when he became really limited on offense. Sanders finished with 15 points, three rebounds and three assists.

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Sanders back-court mate Nigel Johnson had a decent impact on offense as well as defense. He compliments Sanders well and if they had more teammates that could run and gun that may suit their team better. Johnson is not the best shooter. Like Sanders he thrives when he gets into the lane. He has a crafty floater and understands when to get all the way to the rim. Johnson is a solid on ball defender. He has great quickness and his active hands bother players with a suspect handle. Johnson posted 14 points, two three-pointers, four rebounds and two steals on the night.

 

Maryland continues to surprise many and probably even themselves with their hot start. This matched their best start ever, back when Steve Francis was their star guard in 1998-1999. Maryland at 18-2 and 6-1 in the Big 10, has officially put the conference and the rest of the country on notice.

 

Rutgers continues to struggle in conference play. They lack the skill players and veteran leadership needed to compete in a high-major conference like the Big 10. The effort and commitment to defense is definitely there though.

 

Up next for Rutgers is a home game vs Wisconsin on Saturday.

Up next for Maryland is @ Minnesota on Saturday.