Q&A with Maryland coach Mark Turgeon
A frenetic start to Mark Turgeon's Maryland tenure doesn't appear close to slowing down.
The Terps men’s basketball coach was introduced as Gary Williams’ successor May 11. Since then, the former Texas A&M and Wichita State coach successfully re-recruited City shooting guard Nick Faust, hired an all-star coaching staff, reached out to local high school and AAU coaches, and finally hit the road recruiting for July’s open evaluation period.
Turgeon, who could give up to six scholarships for the 2012 class, has just one recruit for 2011 in Faust. Seton Hall Prep (N.J.) point guard Sterling Gibbs and St. John’s Northwestern Military Academy (Wis.) forward Martin Breunig asked out of their letters of intent to Maryland and ended up signing with Texas and Washington, respectively.
Turgeon spoke to The Baltimore Sun recently about the Terps’ 2011 recruiting class, his coaching staff, goals for the upcoming season and more.
Everything moved pretty fast with Gary Williams retiring and you getting the job. It was late in the process for 2011, so what was your first move in recruiting?
Well for 2011, we didn’t know what was out there. We had three commitments signed, and unfortunately lost two of them. So we just wanted to make sure we kept Nick. We looked around. We needed size, needed help inside. We looked around the country, junior college, and there wasn’t a lot there. We looked around overseas, looked at transfers, and nothing really popped up in our direction, so we just kind of settled on the nine guys we’ve got on scholarship. We’ll coach them up the best we can, and we’re working pretty hard on  recruiting right now.
Were you familiar with the guys that had signed? What was the process like in terms of who you wanted to pursue?
Well the only one I had seen play was Nick [Faust]. I really liked him a lot. I thought he was going to be a heck of a college player. He’s the one I knew we had to keep in the fold. The other two (Gibbs and Breunig) I had never seen. I was able to pull stuff on the computer, watch a little bit. But it was one of those things when they opened up their recruiting, I wasn’t going to stop them from trying to do something else. The one guy I had to keep was Nick, and in the end we did that.
Was Faust a guy on your radar even before you got to Maryland?
I just saw him on the road last summer. I saw him at different camps. I was really impressed with him and his ability. He can do a lot of things on the floor. I thought he had tremendous upside. I didn’t recruit him at A&M, but I was aware of him. I was friends with Bino [Ranson], so I followed Nick when they were really looking at him hard and trying to get him. I was well aware of him.
Were there some nervous moments there trying to re-recruit him?
Oh yeah. It was a rough 48 or 72 hours. I felt pretty good after my first conversation with the mom and even the dad after they asked for the release. Everything was going to work out – we just had to go through the process. For them as a family, they felt like it was something they had to do. I felt pretty solid about it. Shortly after we granted them the release, [he recommitted].
How does he factor into your plans this season?
I don’t know enough about the team. I think he can really play. I thought our guard play is the strongest part of our team coming into this season, pretty obviously. I have high hopes for Nick. He can help us a lot this year. How much depends on how he’s able to transition to the program, his individual work and how coachable he is, that kind of stuff.
Well obviously Scott Spinelli was with me [at Texas A&M] and I have a lot of confidence in him as a recruiter and a coach. So that was a no-brainer. He was going to come with me if he didn’t get the A&M job, which we tried to get him. Bino is a guy I’ve known for a long time. He obviously has great connections here, especially in the Baltimore area. So he’s a guy that I felt really comfortable with. Dalonte is just a guy that I thought of when I got the job. I knew Dalonte. We were in the same league, but we never talked at great length. But I knew about his ties to the D.C. area. So it all worked out. Those were the three guys that I wanted, and to be able to get all of them says a lot about Maryland basketball and how badly people wanted to be a part of it. So it’s a good staff. We’ll see. Just like when you’re building a recruiting class, you shouldn’t judge it until the playing days are over. I don’t think you can judge a staff until we’ve been here a few years and do some things. Hopefully we’ll do a lot of great things together.
Have you had to change your recruiting approach at all from A&M to Maryland?
Not really. I still have my same approach. I have guys here who really like to recruit. We’re in an area with [good] players and [we] have connections all around the United States – maybe not so much the West Coast. But in the Midwest and the East Coast we have really good connections, and a few on the West Coast. But I still have my same philosophy: get the best players you can with good character, guys who fit into what we want to do. You just work hard and develop as many relationships as you can. Hopefully that’ll help you bring in good players.
You can’t comment on 2012 recruits, but generally speaking, is recruiting going well for that class?
Yeah. We’ve been well received since we’ve been here. I know we’ve only been on the job a couple months. I was hoping that we’d have a few more results right now. We’ve been hitting it really hard. We’ve been grinding. I know we need to add several pieces in the 2012 class, so we’ll see. It’s too early to tell. There’s a lot of hard work ahead of us. Hopefully we’ll catch a few breaks and get some really good players.
For this season, is everything a clean slate? What are your expectations?
Well I want to get guys who practice hard and play hard every day, play the right way and play together, defensively and offensively. That’s important to me. They’ll be getting in a system that’ll be different than what they’re used to and what they’ve done in the past. Getting comfortable with the system, all that’s important to me. Every year my expectation is to get the most I can out of the young group of men I’m coaching. Hopefully we’ll be able to do that with this team, have them mesh well together and get a lot out of this group. I do know our guard play is going to be pretty strong. We have some guys that have proved themselves. Sean Mosley, Pe’Shon [Howard] and Terrell [Stoglin] have proven themselves at this level. Some other young guys would love to prove themselves. We’re just going to go and try to get as much as we can out of this group. Where it leads us, I don’t know. I’ll be able to judge a lot better once we start practicing.
Baltimore Sun photo of Mark Turgeon by Kim Hairston / May 11, 2011