CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 18: Head coach Mark Turgeon of the Texas A&M Aggies reacts in the first half of the game against the Florida State Seminoles during the second round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at the United Center on March 18, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Don't hold back, Mark Turgeon. Tell us how you really feel.
"This is the biggest challenge I've ever had in coaching; it's not even close," said Turgeon, who turned around struggling teams at Jacksonville State and Wichita State and led Texas A&M to four consecutive NCAA tournaments before succeeding Maryland's Gary Williams in May.
"I can't make it any easier on these guys," Turgeon said, with senior Sean Mosley, who led the team with 21 points, sitting beside him. "The lack of commitment to running the plays the right way is mind-boggling. I've never seen anything like it."
The strong words come on the heels of Maryland's 26-point loss to Iona in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, in which they had 26 turnovers. Turgeon is famous for being brutally honest in the media, so strong comments coming from him aren't too much of a surprise. The strength of the comments, though, is a bit jarring.
Obviously, we're all on the outside, but there certainly appears to be a special level of sloppiness in Maryland's offense, in part due to an inability or unwillingness to consistently run sets, which appears to be Turgeon's main complaint. The ridiculous pace of the game, plus the absence of Pe'Shon Howard, likely played into it to some extent as well.
One thing I'm learning with Turgeon, though, is that it isn't likely to mean as much as people will draw into it. Again: Turgeon is almost always brutally honest. He speaks what's on his mind, and that was on his mind. Every single coach would've said the same to the team in the locker room; Turgeon simply says it to the media, as well. He adds no extra emphasis on the words he says publicly. It's just an interesting side note, and I don't have any problem with him telling it like it is.
Turgeon might have some allies, by the way. Among them: Sean Mosley.
Said Mosley: "We didn't execute any offensive plays in the second half. When things go south, guys on the team put their head down. . . . We've got to get tougher as a team."
(Regarding getting tougher, Turgeon coached against Iona with a kidney stone. So he might have some credibility there.)
And not that I put much stock into the words of Doug Gottlieb or Dino Gaudio, but they both remarked upon the difficulty of the building job Turgeon was facing, with Gaudio calling the current team "the most depleted roster in the country."
This isn't about Randy Edsall and I'm loathe to devote even a single clause to the comparison, but it's a pre-emptive strike, because I know people will make the comparison. Maryland's fanbase in general and I in particular have been pretty tough on Edsall for dozens of reasons, not least of which is his poor handling of the media and occasional throwing of his players under the bus. This may appear to be the same. This is not the same.
For one, Edsall's players are undoubtedly superior to the bunch Turgeon inherited. It was easy to think Edsall should've had much, much more success than he did. Turgeon ... unless he doesn't win another game, I think we'll understand his record. For another, Turgeon has earned a certain benefit of the doubt, thanks to his recruiting and hiring efforts, that Edsall has entirely missed.
But here's the real kicker. Turgeon is notorious for being candid, sometimes brutally. He has no filter and will say whatever it is he's thinking. Edsall is the opposite. He's notorious for having high walls. He doesn't disclose injury information; he almost never allows player media availability. He is basically nothing but filter. When Turgeon says those types of things, it's because he believes them. It's tough to imagine Edsall, who is so tight-lipped about so much, simply speaking something because it crosses his mind. When he makes a comment like that, it's cold and calculated; there's some purpose to it. This isn't about Edsall, though, and I pray that with that point made, no one else tries to make it about Edsall. (If you want to have a discussion about that, start a new FanPost.)
The real point: Maryland is young and has a far-from-full cupboard. Will things get better with Pe'Shon Howard? I hope so. Until then, though, I think we're simply going to have to expect some sloppy performances.