ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 08: Head coach Mark Turgeon of the Maryland Terrapins looks on against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons during their first round game of 2012 ACC Men's Basketball Conferene Tournament at Philips Arena on March 8, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
So Mark Turgeon made his first comments yesterday since Maryland's season officially ended on Sunday night, going on ESPN980 with Al Galdi, Kevin Sheehan, and Chris Knoche and talking about - well, more or less everything. He hits on recruiting, on the bracket, on Terrell Stoglin, and so much more.
You can catch the interview here, but for those who can't listen or want to see a transcript, I channeled my inner Steinz and typed it up below. Check it out past the jump, but first a thought or two:
Turgeon is still his ol' honest self. He seems very steady - if it seems like he says something inflammatory, he probably actually isn't - but he's definitely not one to mince words. If he ever says Maryland has a good team, you should probably be pretty excited.
He says he wants to play four good non-conference teams a year. That's about what Maryland's doing right now anyway - the ACC-Big Ten Challenge, the BB&T Classic, at least two games in whatever tourney they go to, and the return game for whoever played in the BB&T the previous year. With the Kentucky game next year, they'll easily exceed that "four good team" requirement.
He says he doesn't like John Calipari - he loves him, which makes sense given that he coached him at Kansas. I'll be honest, though; if Cal goes to the NBA, having him talk up Turgeon as a pupil would be a pretty big tool in recruiting. But it also shows you why Calipari is so effective, and it isn't just "cheating." If a straight-arrow like Turgeon is a big fan, it's clear that he can relate to all kinds.
Now, read on, or head over to 980 to listen.
On the ACC's best shot to get to the Final Four
Well, if Henson's healthy I think it's pretty obvious as North Carolina, but I also think Florida State is pretty capable. If you watched part of that game yesterday, you saw how determined the seniors were at Florida State to win that conference tournament, and there was just a togetherness with that group that you didn't see on the other side of the floor. I think that they're a team that could ... y'know they were a Sweet Sixteen, they lost to VCU last year, they let a guy get a layup or they might've been a Final Four team last year. So I think both teams are very capable. Duke ... if Ryan Kelly's not healthy that'll be really hard. They're not as talented as the Duke teams have been, just obviously very well-coached and they can make jump shots. But a team that can match up with them physically inside and shut down the perimeter, which is what we tried to do, y'know, can give Duke fits.
On N.C. State's ability to win a few in the tournament
Oh, yeah, they're very talented. And it's kind of a misconception, everyone thinks that North Carolina and Duke has the best players, and I do think that North Carolina when they're healthy had the best players in our league, but I really felt like Florida State had the second-most talent, North Carolina St. had the third-most in our league, followed by Duke and then probably Virginia - well, maybe Miami ahead of Virginia ... so, they have it. I don't know if they've been together long enough with Mark to make a run, his system is simple and they've mastered it. The UCLA offense, and he's got them guarding better, and their point guard, Brown, is just playing off the charts right now. So they're capable, they're capable of winning. I haven't even looked at their bracket, but they're talented enough to get to the Sweet Sixteen.
Unfortunately, their injuries have just been too devastating for them. They just have no depth, playing six guys, really six and a half, and they were just tougher than us on senior day, that's the reason they pulled it out. And they had a lead and we had to come back. But I just think Florida is too good with their guards. Virginia can really guard, but I think that as the game goes down they'll wear them down. I hope I'm wrong, I really like Tony, I really like Virginia, I really like the ACC, but it's a tough matchup for them.
On Iona getting in over Drexel
Well, I think there's a team every year - it was Colorado last year, they said their schedule wasn't good enough and they had a lot of great wins, they beat K-State three times and K-State was a five seed, so that didn't make much sense. I'm sick to my stomach for Bruiser and Drexel, to win 25 out of 27 and 19 out of 20, and that league is good now, VCU, Mason, you can go on and on, Old Dominion. That league is very good at the top, and I was very disappointed. I don't know if it was them and Iona, I know that's what the experts say, I haven't looked it up, but there's probably a team in there that didn't deserve to be in.
Yeah, Iona's off the charts, and good. And we played them when we weren't very good. And they're talented, but so is Drexel. And I think Drexel played without a player in the conference tournament, one of their best players, and he'll be back. So I was sick to my stomach for them. That's why we went to sixty-eight, so teams like them would get in and they didn't. So that's disappointing.
On the difficulties of scheduling, particularly in regards to Missouri's schedule
That's reality. We beat Notre Dame when they weren't a top-50 team and it made us look better, the night we played them - [Knoche mentions Colorado] - yeah, great wins for us - but yeah, that's life. I do think it's really hard - one of my goals in life is to be on the selection committee. I'd love to do that, because I think I'd really get into it, and study it, and this and that, but yeah Missouri ... I think you have to play people. Especially when you're at a BCS school. I think you need to play three or four really good teams a year, whether it's in those tournaments, or home-and-home, you know we play the Big Ten Challenge, so ... I think you gotta play four good teams outside, because you can schedule the rest of them as far as wins. And the league is hard enough. But that's what they want, and if the selection committee asks for that then you've gotta do it.
On Georgetown as a three and Missouri as a two
Yeah, I didn't buy that, especially as a Maryland guy now I didn't buy that. But Missouri lost more than two games in the league, they lost to Kansas St. twice, they lost to KU, so I know they had at least three losses ... yeah, so they had four losses in there. I was surprised Baylor was a three, looking at their non-conference schedule and I think they lost six games in the league. I think that's the thing the committee does the worst, every year, the seedings, without question ... we were a seven-seed last year. We finished tied for third in our league in the Big 12 and beat K-State and they had the five seed and we had the seven, and it made no sense to me whatsoever. And we played a much tougher non-conference schedule than they did. So I think that's the thing they screw up the most every year. But Tom Izzo said it best, the seeds really don't matter, it's just being in it, and it's who you play, not the number in front of it.
On the term "mid-major"
It's still out there, because there's just so many ... I've been at the mid-major level, and it's tough, it's tough. That's one team, maybe, Drexel, should've been ahead of Xavier. They had a really disappointing part of their season, Drexel didn't, and when that one popped up I said "Wow, they got in?" And they didn't win their conference tournament, and I know they have good players and they have good tradition. But that might be one I argue over Iona, for that last spot. But no, there is a mid-major, it's hard being a mid-major, you can't schedule anybody. TV's getting better it's helping, but there's definitely a difference, budgets and everything that's involved. There's a reason guys leave Wichita St. to go to a BCS school, or leave places to go to a BCS, just because there are so many advantages.
On his Final Four
Well, I really haven't done much studying. But the team I like the most to make the Final Four is Michigan St., just looking at their bracket and Tom Izzo and the way he's got his team playing, I'd say Michigan St is my lock. In the other bracket, my heart's with ... Calipari coached me, a lot of people don't like Calipari, I love Calipari. He coached me at Kansas. I think the winner of the Kentucky-UConn game's going to the Final Four in that bracket. My heart's going with Kentucky. I got an upset - I guess not really an upset - I think Ohio State's gonna go to the final four, I think they'll beat Syracuse, just on rebounding alone, they got some length, they rebound. They're gonna have to shoot the ball well in that game, they didn't shoot it well yesterday against Michigan State, that's two Big Ten schools. But I think Ohio State with the big fella in the middle, pretty determined this year, I'm gonna have them. And I don't want to make Jayhawk fans mad, but I'm an ACC guy now so I'm gonna go with North Carolina over KU to make the final four.
On Tom Izzo
He's the best. He's the best. In this time of year, he's the best. He has 117 plays, and by this time of year they know all of them, and he can run ‘em after timeouts. He was masterful late in the game yesterday, just the Green kid couldn't finish. And I think the Green kid should be, y'know, maybe he should be the player of the year for what he's done at Michigan St., and they don't mention him a lot but that kid does both ends of the floor for them.
On whether Missouri can make a run
Nah. Physically I just don't think they can do it. I don't think the Big 12 was a very tough league this year. I think even KU was small. Thomas Robinson and Withey and after that they were playing a transfer from Loyola. I think Bill did a great job with his team this year, but Michigan St.'s a whole nother level of physicality. I just think that they'll get it in their kind of tempo this time of year, with the long timeouts and just the pressure, and they'll control the game. I really do. I could be wrong, Missouri's had a heck of a year and they can score. Little point guard Pressey, Flip's off the charts good. But I just think that Michigan St. ... to me, they're the clear favorite.
North Carolina's defense
They didn't, obviously, guard yesterday, I thought they guarded the heck out of us. Now we're not that hard to guard. Terrell went for 30, and Terrell's a good player obviously, but no one else could score. And that was without Henson on the floor. So you add Henson. They'll be a lot fresher. They'll have two games in three days instead of three in three. I thought they got tired yesterday. What they did get this weekend was confidence in their bench. I do think in the tournament Coach Williams' team will guard, and I thought from our first game here to the tournament game, I thought their defense got so much better.
On losing in the conference tournament
Advantage. Huge advantage. I think that coach will have their attention. You could hear Calipari complain all weekend about how arrogant his players were. So they lost. They were arrogant, but they kept winning. And it's hard - "well coach, we're winning." But now they lost, so he'll have their attention. I think it was good for Syracuse to lose a game, they'd won so many in a row. I think it was good for Kansas. It's exhausting what teams do to have to win the league. I think it's great for Carolina, John Henson wasn't there, I think it was great for all of them to be quite honest with you. And you guys mentioned Cincinnati at six, that is a really good six, that's another seed that went awry, they should've been a much higher seed than that.
On Terrell Stoglin possibly going pro
Well obviously he's thinking about it all the time. I'm not thinking about it very much to be quite honest with you. But I will, and I'll sit down with Terrell. Unfortunately, in my position, he's not going to listen to the coach, because what I'm gonna do - not recruiting him, being here one year. I hope he does, because we have a very open and honest relationship. But I'm not gonna waste time. I could call 15 to 18 general managers and get an answer, but if he's gonna listen to my opinion then I won't do the work for him, if he's not going to then I'm not gonna do the work. I do think Terrell wants to come back, I think it's in his best interest to come back. He came a long way as a basketball player, but has a long way to go as a basketball player. I heard he said in the paper that I'm hard on him; well, that's what I get paid to do. I made him a lot better basketball player this year. I think Terrell Stoglin would benefit from playing for Mark Turgeon another year, to go third-person on you. I think it would help him, but we'll sit down, we'll sit down in a week or two, it's way too early to start making this thought for him.
On inheriting players from a different coach
Well this was easy, because a lot of the guys hadn't played, Sean had played, Pe'Shon had played, and Terrell had played. But they were freshmen, and it was only one year with coach Williams. Sean was obviously three years, pretty loyal guy, but Sean is such a great guy he open-armed me from the beginning. Usually that's difficult. I think the hardest part was just building a relationship of trust. I think that's what we tried to do from day one, was just build relationships with these kids, and let them know we're there for them more than just being their basketball coach and trying to win games. I think if you went through our guys and you asked "do you think coach turgeon just cares about winning or do you think he cares about you?" I think you'd get the second answer a lot with these guys, and that's what we really tried to do with them.
On what makes him a good recruiter
Well, I got Maryland on my chest now. So that really helps. I've been around some great coaches, we've had some success. Not as much as I'd like. But we've been at some pretty tough jobs. Jacksonville St., Wichita St when I took over was 285 in the RPI, Texas A&M's not a basketball job but we went to four straight tournaments. I've had some success, I think my reputation in the business is good, I think that helps with familes that do their homework. I think that players and families can look at me and say "Okay, he's telling me the truth, he's genuine." I think in the end that's really what they want, because they hear so much during this process and I think if I can build a good enough relationship they can know I'm telling the truth. So I think that's really what's helped us put together this class so far.
On how tough his first year was compared to others
Well they were all really hard. I was full of piss and vinegar at Jacksonville St. I was 32, 33. I knew it all, I didn't care, I was just gonna get it done. Losing stunk, and all that, but in the end we won two of our last three and we finished the right way. Wichita St was tough because we didn't have a lot of committed players. But to be quite honest with you, Texas A&M might've been the toughest job. We won 25 games, followed a guy that just was a local hero, and if you know anything about the way coaches ... guys buy in to what he was doing, so I inherited some seniors ... it was really a difficult situation. Plus we lost the Naismith Player of the Year, and we were supposed to be better. And uh, so, that was a tough year. We're four All-American plays, two by Kevin Love and two by Darren Collison, from maybe being in a Final Four that year. We played our tails off against UCLA that year, they had a great team, Westbrook, and Love, and Collison, and we had them down the whole game. My guys were really playing and that could've been a final four year for us at A&M ... so that was a hard year.
This one was hard. Because of the way I acted towards the end of the year. And I asked myself, "Why am I acting this way" and I just think it was the losing. I just hate to lose. Technicals, technicals. Maybe the way I acted ... I don't like the way I acted on the sideline against Virginia, but I was desperate. We had no energy. The building had no energy. I was tired of losing. I know I only did it for a few minutes. But I don't like acting that way, I shouldn't have to act that way, at Maryland. I just think it was the losing, the losing just ... and really what bothered me with this team more than anything, we were making the same mistakes. I know you guys don't see it as much, Chris does, but we were making some of the same mistakes in Atlanta that we were making in November. And that's really hard for me. And we weren't making as many, there were very few, but it was just "throw your arms up, you gotta be kidding me guys," but I'm very proud of this team, what we did to get to a winning record and all that, you know, you start thinking "Oh, we're three wins away from being in the NCAA Tournament, or maybe the NIT, or maybe four wins away," ... there's a fine line out there and our kids will learn from that. The thing I like about this year is that we played in a lot of big games. We played Duke twice, we played Carolina twice, we played at Florida State, played at North Carolina State, we played in a lot of big games, and it's going to help our young kids in the future.
On his Final Four run at Kansas
We had a great team. Archie Marshall got hurt in the Final Four game against Duke, and Duke shot 35 free throws to our 12. So, it was a great run, a great group of guys. I've been fortunate, I've been a part of three final fours and some good runs. the one at Wichita St meant a lot to be because it was my team, and we started at 285 in the RPI and won the league. First time in 23 years, and did it the right way - all those kids graduated - so that one meant a lot to me. I wish we could've kept going, but that was a great run for us.