Maryland Hires Mark Turgeon to Replace Gary Williams as Head Men's Basketball Coach

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.

TexAgs.com's Billy Liucci, meanwhile, has the only number I've seen attached to Maryland's offer to Turgeon: $2.5mil a year. He doesn't say whether that's base salary or total compensation, which makes a slight difference. Frankly, it's a slightly higher number than I would've expected for a guy like Turgeon, who was making $1.5mil/year at TAMU. But maybe if it was any less, he wouldn't have accepted the offer, as he was reportedly struggling with the decision.

Turgeon was a name brought up early in the search, but the focus quickly moved on to bigger names. When the Terrapins were turned down by those guys, though, Turgeon and other names, like Notre Dame's Mike Brey, came back into play. Turgeon flirted with the job for a brief period - he emerged as a potential favorite yesterday afternoon - before visiting Maryland and accepting the job.

Turgeon isn't Sean Miller, and a few fans will be unable to look past that to see that he's a strong coach in his own right. He doesn't check quite as many boxes as Miller does - he lacks geographical ties, for instance, and doesn't have stellar recruiting results - but his coaching ability is very highly-regarded and it's tough to argue with his results, which are stellar.

Turgeon has one of the better coaching resumes in college basketball. He took over a moribund Wichita St. program back in 2000 and had them in a Sweet 16 by 2005. He ended up replacing Billy Gillespie at Texas A&M in 2007, and has made the NCAA Tournament each of the four years he's been there.

What's striking about him is that he's had great success at places where it's traditionally difficult to have success. Wichita St. has made exactly one NCAA Tournament appearance since 1988 - Turgeon's Sweet 16. Texas A&M, meanwhile, has almost no history of basketball success, is located in a non-ideal locale, has a lot of idiosyncrasies, and is a huge football school. Before Turgeon arrived, they had never even made three consecutive tourneys, and he's taken them to four in a row.

The results are reassuring - after all, he's made five of the last six tourneys and has had five 24+ win seasons in the last six years. Looking at where did it, you can't help but be impressed. The big question with him is recruiting: he's landed a four star in each of his classes at TAMU, but he's never had a class ranked higher than #23 (at Scout).

What's worse, he has almost no ties to this area. He'll be coming into the DMV as a complete stranger to the coaches here - with the exception of DeMatha's Mike Jones, as the Ags landed a player from DM a few years back. It's a gamble from a recruiting standpoint, and there's no guarantee he'll do significantly better than Gary did. When compared to coaches who regularly reel in four- and five-stars like Sean Miller and Jay Wright, his resume is a little lacking in this regard.

His coaching style is, interestingly, almost the exact opposite of Gary's. Check out the statistical look at him from KenPom, and a few things will jump out at you immediately. The biggest thing you'll notice will probably be the tempo: it's slooooooooooooow. His teams are efficient, but that tempo won't be tempting for a lot of the run-and-jump athletes UMD traditionally goes after (Justin Anderson, for instance).

You'll also see that his teams rebound very well on both ends of the floor. His teams tend to have high FT rates, which means getting fouled a lot. That, combined with low 3PA%, seems to indicate an offense based more on penetration than outside shooting. We'll explore this some more in the coming days.

Even if his coaching style tends to be the opposite of Gary's, the two have similar personalities when it comes to their approach to the game. For instance, here's what it says on Turgeon's Wiki:

Mark Turgeon coaches a man-on-man defensive style, with occasional zone, and a guard oriented offense.[20] Although he is known for his intense competitiveness and desire to win, Turgeon treats his players well, with some even saying they see him as a sort of father figure, as opposed to just a coach.[6]

And this is what a Houston Chronicle writer said about him:

I'm presuming an AD would prefer to have a great recruiter over a great coach. If a coach is a great recruiter and fairly intelligent, he could hire guys to help with the X's and Os. Still, it's fun watching a guy like Mark Turgeon take a bunch of players, keep them together for a few years, build a cohesive team and watch them succeed.

If that doesn't sound like the team Greivis' senior year, I don't know what does.

In other words, this doesn't look like a huge departure from the Gary Way. Turgeon is a great coach in the literal sense of the word, but his recruiting looks like a question mark at best. He's had success building up Wichita St. and has done well at Texas A&M, but he hasn't yet taken TAMU to an elite level.

I've often described my opinion of Turgeon's hire as "happathy." I'm fine with it; Turgeon's a good coach and he'll do good things here. But he's not the sexy hire for sure, and he's never been in a situation like Maryland's (geographically or figuratively). With Miller having been teased earlier, it makes it a little more difficult to get psyched for him, despite his strong background.

Honestly, he's a wait-and-see type of hire, like almost all others. Wait and see if he can adapt his recruiting to the DMV. Wait and see if his recruiting was handicapped at Texas A&M. Wait and see if he can take a program from good to elite. Wait and see if he can adapt his game to fit Maryland's athletes.

A few people will bash it right away; others will embrace. I'm guessing most will be happy, but not extremely so. There will be no immediate meltdowns like there would've been with Brey, nor immediate celebrations like there would've been with Miller.

Immediate reactions, of course, are irrelevant. All that matters is what their record is in five years or so, and hopefully Turgeon is set up well to succeed in that department. Welcome to the family, Mark.

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