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Notes On The Turgeon Hire

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After being turned down by Sean Miller, Jamie Dixon, Mike Brey and Brad Stevens, Maryland finally got their man when Texas A&M's Mark Turgeon agreed to take the job Monday night.

Perception is everything: though Gary Williams just retired last Thursday, check out how the Testudo Times characterized the length of the search (emphasis ours):

Maryland's long search to replace Gary Williams as head coach of the Terrapins' men's basketball team took a whirlwind tour, nearly landing Sean Miller before getting rebuffed by Brad Stevens and Jamie Dixon, but it's finally over: both FoxSport's Jeff Goodman and CBS Sports' Gary Parrish are reporting that Texas A&M's Mark Turgeon has accepted Maryland's offer and will lead the Terps next season.

Long? Finally? It was a four day search!

We can understand the confusion, though: although brief, it was very intense.

All that aside, how did they do? Well, in our opinion, fairly well.

A.D. Kevin Anderson clearly tried for a homerun with the other guys he pursued, but the perception of Turgeon as a fallback hire, a B lister or what have you, is erroneous.

We've casually followed this guy for a long time.  He was a solid guard at Kansas, although with limited talent.  But he was one of those guys you knew you should watch, like Wojo or Josh Pastner or Eric Hayes, because he was bound to pop up again.

Consider what he's done so far: he was took Wichita State to the Sweet Sixteen and did well overall, which really one would expect because Wichita State is a basketball school. They're a step or two down from Kansas and say Missouri, but still, they have a long and proud tradition.

Can't say that for Texas A&M.

They went from 1987 to 2006 without making the tournament.

Billy Gillispie made the tourney two years in a row before taking the Kentucky job.  Since then, Turgeon has taken A&M to the tournament four years -- something Maryland or Duke or UNC might take for granted, but which has never happened in College Station before.

He also never won less than 24 games there.  And this is in the highly competitive Big 12, with considerable disadvantages.

A&M is a football school, first, foremost and always, and in fact, one of Turgeon's reported frustrations was that the basketball crowds remained small.

Yet some people will see the hire as a failure. Why couldn't they get Sean Miller? Why not Mike Brey?

For those of you who have been reading here for a while, you'll remember that an idiot columnist with the Tribune said Brey was just a mediocre find, a "vanilla hire," who would never excel.

Perception, as we said.

Turgeon is an outstanding coach.  He's a very solid tactician, and he clearly learned a lot from mentors Larry Brown and Roy Williams.

His A&M teams are not the fastest, but to an extent that may be out of necessity:  recruiting to College Station is not easy and you have to adapt to what you have.  Brown's national title team at Kansas slowed it down too when they couldn't surround Danny Manning with much talent.

Our guess is that he'll find players who are athletic and when he does, he'll run a good bit more (he might consider asking Gary Williams to scout some, by the way).

Actually, that's about the only question we have: how well will he recruit?  The DMV region is one of the greatest talent beds in America, but it's not like he only gets to recruit locally (though that should be all he needs to do ultimately).  For various reasons, Williams recruited a lot of prospects who weren't local - this year he had kids from North Carolina, Tucson, Connecticut, LA, Texas, New York, the Netherlands and Iceland.

He surely won't keep all of Williams' staff, but Keith Booth, Bino Ranson and Robert Ehsan all know the area and can recruit it well.   He'd be wise to retain one or two.

Perception.  Let's consider:  when Duke hired Mike Krzyzewski back in 1980, a lot of people were mad.  He was just the Army coach, for God's sake, and was coming off a losing season at Army.  This is Duke's new coach?

Remember also that Dean Smith was widely expected to fail when he took over at UNC, and that Bobby Cremins came to Georgia Tech from Appalachian State, where he had some success, to be sure, but it wasn't like he was coming in from Arizona or Butler.  Jim Valvano? Entertaining but who knew he would become legendary?  He came from Iona, remember, hardly a hotbed of coaching.

We think this is a solid hire. As soon as we see what sort of talent he brings in, we'll know more.  But we know this: the guy can coach his rear off.  It's hard to see how he can fail, given what he's done at a football school and what he'll now have going for him. Maryland is a sleeping giant.  Turgeon, universally acknowledged as a first-rate X and O coach, just might be the guy to rouse it.

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