Turgeon takes over at Maryland

New Maryland men's basketball coach promises 'great things' at his introductory press conference

May 11, 2011|By Peter Schmuck | The Baltimore Sun

COLLEGE PARK — New Maryland basketball coach Mark Turgeon made it clear from the moment he stepped to the podium at his introductory news conference on Wednesday that failure is not an option.

"My style of play?" he said. "Winning."

Turgeon and his family were welcomed to Comcast Center by a large group of Terps supporters and proved immediately he could play to a crowd, hitting all the right notes for Terrapins fans still stunned by the sudden retirement of Gary Williams and hungry to bounce back quickly from a disappointing 2010-11 basketball season.

"If you have tickets, keep 'em,'' he said. "If you don't, buy 'em, because we're going to do some great things here."

Athletic director Kevin Anderson, charged with the task of replacing both his long-time football coach and basketball coach in the same six-month period, seemed very comfortable with the outcome of his basketball search, though he clearly would prefer to return to the more mundane business of running the Maryland athletic department.

"Like Yogi Berra said, this seems like déjà vu all over again,'' Anderson said. "I hope that it's a long time before we have to announce another coach again."

Not surprisingly, Anderson delivered a glowing testimonial to the former Texas A&M coach who is credited with turning around a struggling Wichita State program before taking the Aggies to four straight NCAA Tournaments in his four years at College Station.

"When I sat down and I talked to Mark, I knew everything he had accomplished basketball-wise,'' Anderson said, "but as we talked about before, you know he's a great man, a great leader, and he wants everything that we stand for. He wants our young people to be successful in the classroom. He wants them to be great as far as leaders in the community and they're going to be good basketball players.

"We're going to compete. We're going to compete at the highest level. We're going to compete for championships. No question about that. But I think what helped me make my decision was when he looked me in the eye and said, 'Kevin, I hate to lose.'"

Turgeon took questions for about 15 minutes and laid out his coaching approach and his plans for the next few days. He has not settled on his staff yet, but it will include both holdovers from Williams' staff and some members of his staff Texas A&M.

He also addressed the challenge of replacing a coaching legend, pointing out his similarities to Williams and also expressing great confidence that he can carry on the basketball tradition that Williams built during his 22 years as coach.

He displayed a deadpan sense of humor and got a big laugh when he took a veiled shot at former AD Debbie Yow while speculating on how Williams will accept him as his successor.

"I know that Gary is not going to sabotage Maryland basketball,'' he said. "I think Gary's going to be a great ally for me. Gary Williams was Maryland basketball. I hope in 15 or 20 years or however long this lasts, I hope you're say that Mark Turgeon was Maryland basketball."

peter.schmuck@baltsun.com

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