Who Is Mark Turgeon?

Who Is Mark Turgeon?

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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.

Maryland Opens BIG 10 Play With Decimation Of Illinois

Maryland Opens BIG 10 Play With Decimation Of Illinois

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College Park, MD – Maryland opened Big 10 play at home with a very impressive win over Illinois 84-59. In a game that was supposed to be a lot more competitive especially with Maryland having two of their big men out, Damonte Dodd and Michal Cekovsky, Maryland made easy work of Illinois. Maryland decided to play small ball. Sometimes having L.G. Gill (6’8 230) playing center. This style of play allowed Maryland to spread the floor creating a variety of mismatches on the offensive end. Illinois lacks the team speed and athleticism to be able to recover after the guards of Maryland penetrated the lane.

 

For Illinois it was much of the same story of the past several seasons. Riding the back of senior shooting guard Malcolm Hill (6’6 225) the Illini tried to stay within respectability, but that in and of itself was very difficult on the night. Illinois was down 39-23 at half and Hill had twelve of those points. Hill lacking true point guard skills, plays mostly off the ball. He Has a solid stroke from deep and has an ability to post up smaller defenders. He is the main source of offense, and his team requires much of him to stay competitive. He just had zero help this game from his teammates. On the night Hill finished with 21 points and seven rebounds.

 

This may have been Maryland’s best performance of the season thus far. Mark Turgeon’s decision to play small may have opened a new realm of possibility for his team. Maryland’s strength is in its guard play, so we may be seeing a lot more of these smaller lineups in the future. Leading the way for Maryland was star point guard Melo Trimble (6’3 185). Trimble is continuing to show that he has his explosiveness back that was not there a season ago. Trimble got into the lane whenever he wanted and finished at the rim on several occasions over taller defenders. Trimble also showed an ability to pull up from mid range on drives and stay balanced to knock down shots. Trimble is starting to show why he was considered a first round talent after his freshman season. There were several scouts in attendance and his stock has to be on the rise. He did turn the ball over six times, which is a bit uncharacteristic of him, but that could be more of an anomaly. Melo finished with 20 points, 7-10 shooting, three rebounds and two assists.

The most impressive player on the floor had to be freshman point guard Anthony Cowan (6’0 170). Cowan continued his stellar play and showed more poise than he has in any other game this season. Cowan blew by defenders on the perimeter opening up the lane for dump off passes to cutters or open big men on several occasions. Cowan has a quick first step and finished extremely well against bigger defenders at the rim during this game. Cowan also hounds opposing ball handlers and uses his quickness to bother players especially on double teams. Cowan had three steals on the night and it could have been more if he was not called on a couple of reaching fouls. Cowan finished with twelve points, six assists, three rebounds, three steals and only one turnover in 34 minutes.

Two other players that had huge contributions for the Terps were Justin Jackson (6’7 225) and Jaylen Brantley (5’11 170). Jackson’s versatility was on full display. He showed an ability to hit perimeter jumpers, as well as his ability to put the ball on the floor and drive the lane. Jackson can finish with either hand on the drive, which is impressive at his size. He also provided solid interior defense using his length to get two blocks. Jackson finished with twelve points, four rebounds and two blocks. Brantley continued his stellar play coming of the bench. He provides another solid scoring option, as well as good leadership to keep the team on the right track. Brantley has a high motor when on the court. He is a constant effort player and it rubs off on his teammates. He had several tough rebounds in traffic and even scored on a put back while amongst the trees down low. Brantley has become a luxury for the Terps and it provides immediate impact when he is inserted into the game. Brantley finished with 13 points, five rebounds and three assists.

 

As BIG 10 play has begin the NBA scouts were in full attendance for this game. For Maryland, Melo Trimble will have to continue to show his improvement and for others like Justin Jackson the chance to make a lasting impression will be plenty. For Illinois, Malcolm Hill will have to show more effort on the defensive end, while also showing more of an ability to create for his teammates.

 

 

Up next for Illinois is a home game against Ohio State on Sunday.

Up next for Maryland is a home game against Nebraska on Sunday.

 

Artis and Young Fuel Pitt Past Maryland

Pitt @ Maryland

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College Park, Md – Senior duo Michael Young (6’9 235) and Baltimore native Jamel Artis (6’7 215) combine for 47 points to beat Maryland on its home floor 73-59. Pittsburgh jumped out to a solid start and used a 25-4 run to lead at the break 46-25. Pittsburgh came into the game 5-1 and the Terps 7-0.

 

In the first half it was the Jamel Artis show. The do it all shooting guard showed his versatility scoring and even running the offense from time to time. Artis used his size to exploit smaller defenders and also drove the lane at will to finish at the rim. Artis had 15 points in the first half. Being a 6’7 guard, Artis can play multiple positions on both ends of the floor. He can basically play 1-4 on offense and guard 1-4 on defense if needed. Artis was most effective when driving the lane and taking on his defenders head on. Jamel showed an ability to keep the defense honest by knocking down a couple of three’s. This really allowed him to blow by any defenders that were off balance. Artis finished with 22 points, six rebounds, three assists and two steals.

The second half was dominated by Michael Young. Young showed the offensive skillset of an NBA forward. Young is shooting 47% from three and 86% from the foul line so far this season. The ability to keep his defender off balance by shooting from the perimeter and putting the ball on the floor is what makes Young so valuable. When he drives the lane he absorbs a lot of contact and uses his strength to power through defenders. He went to the foul line ten times converting nine. Michael also has the ability to post up and score on plays in the paint or on fade away jumpers. He was an absolute force for the Panthers on the offensive side all night. Young finished with 25 points, 2-4 from three, 9-10 from the free throw line and nine rebounds.

Young and Artis both displayed why Pitt will be a tough out in the ACC and a strong NCAA tournament competitor. Both players generated some interest from the NBA after tonight’s performance.

 

For Maryland the game was not so pretty. They struggled shooting the ball all night. They finished at 34% from the field and only 27% from three (10-36). Yes Maryland shot 36 three pointers. That number is eye popping. Maybe they should have switched it up some and tried to attack the basket more, but a lot of these three pointers were wide open or in rhythm looks. Maryland will need to figure out their shooting ways if the want to be a BIG10 contender this season.

Leading the way for Maryland was Melo Trimble (6’3 185). Trimble coming off two solid games in the Barclay’s Center Classic struggled to get going in this game. Trimble did not have as many lanes to drive to the basket as usual against Pitt’s zone defense. This forced him to fire away from three where his shot has been inconsistent since his freshman season. Trimble went 2-8 from three in the game. Trimble led the Terps with 13 points, six rebounds, five assists and two steals.

Michal Cekovsky (7’1 250) has been playing well since starting the season late from an injury. In his first four games he is averaging 10 points, four rebounds, one block, while shooting 69% from the field. Tonight Cekovsky may have been the only bright spot. He continued to make his presence felt down low scoring on close range shots or put backs. Cekovsky was also a factor protecting the paint finishing with two blocks. This is exactly the type of play Maryland will need from its big man to be able to withstand the struggles of BIG10 conference play. Cekovsky scored ten points, had three rebounds, two blocks, went 4-4 from the field in only 20 minutes of play. His playing time will continue to increase as he is eased back into the lineup after returning from injury.

 

Things will not get easier for the Terps as they face Oklahoma State at home on Saturday night. A team that just beat Georgetown 97-70. Maryland came from behind to beat Georgetown by one 76-75 a couple of weeks ago.

 

For Pitt they face Duquesne at home on Friday.