Maryland Basketball Roundtable - Answering Some of the Top Questions Facing the Terps - Part I

KANSAS CITY, MO - MARCH 10: Head coach Mark Turgeon of the Texas A&M Aggies looks on during their quarterfinal game against the Missouri Tigers in the 2011 Phillips 66 Big 12 Men's Basketball Tournament at Sprint Center on March 10, 2011 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Last season was an interesting time for Maryland basketball fans. No longer was Gary Williams stomping up and down the sidelines in Comcast, as we were all used to seeing season after season. Instead, we found ourselves evaluating a new coach, trying to determine what made him tick while also trying to decide if he was a good fit to take over for Gary Williams. How would Mark Turgeon do? Will he be able to rebuild the program back to it's early 2000s heyday? We examine those questions in our Testudo Times roundtable about Maryland basketball.

1. Alright, we're almost one year into the Turgeon era - What do you think? Is this what you expected for Turgeon?

Ben B:

More or less what I expected, I think. I'm trying very hard not to start saying he's going to win titles here, because that's unfair and will only make it more disappointing if he doesn't (and some very good coaches haven't). But he coached up a pretty average team last year, has done well - not blindingly well, but well - on the recruiting trail, and most of all has been the type of person we all wanted coaching this program. His ability to land high-end stars in recruiting battles - the Harrison twins of the world - will probably define how high he goes here, but I'm encouraged and as happy as I've ever been with the choice.


Ben G:

It’s about what I expected. Last year’s record wasn’t overly impressive on the surface but when you take a look at MD’s talent level vs. others’ in the ACC, you start to see Turgeon’s coaching ability. This team was in several games last year that they shouldn’t have been (E.g. Duke, UNC) but just didn’t have the horses to compete late in games. Now Turgeon’s got six incoming freshmen and two transfers to change just that. It’ll be interesting to see how well this team does when Turgeon has all his own guys in there a year or two down the road. Overall, though, I’m still loving the hire.

Pete:

For the most part, yeah. With Jordan Williams leaving before the season, everyone knew that Maryland basketball wouldn't be up to its usual standard last year. The Terps actually did a little better than I thought, beating Colorado, Notre Dame, and even winning an ACC road game, but beyond Terrell Stoglin's heroics it wasn't exactly a season Maryland fans are going to try too hard to remember.

The two main areas where Turgeon has impressed is in the recruiting and media games. His recruiting prowess this past year needs no real introduction, but bringing in the six guys that he did is a remarkable achievement - especially for a first-year coach who didn't exactly make a huge splash on the court right away. But we'll see next year how he handles the new influx of talent and yet another young team - it's going to be a big test for him.

In terms of the handling of the media, it's incredibly refreshing in the Edsall Era to have a coach who is so straightforward with the press. Turgeon told the media about his frustrations with Stoglin's effort on defense and his frustrations with the team as a whole, instead of using vague pointless generalities about young men and molding character.
Dave:
Impressed. It's not easy to take over and try to follow in the footsteps of a legendary coach, especially when that coach was also an alumnus of the school. I thought Turgeon did a really good job making use of the talent he had this past season.

I've also been impressed with his ability to find talent that is a little under the radar but that seems to blow up after he's already secured a commitment from the player. I can't wait to see what this 2012 class can do and the future looks really, really bright for Maryland basketball. I love this hire more and more each day.


2. We all knew the 2011-2012 season was going to be a little challenging but Maryland was more competitive then most expected. What has impressed you most about Turgeon's coaching ability?

Pete:

Turgeon is a great defensive coach, and that mentality was quickly reflected by the Terps. While Maryland lacked real size last season, they still were not overpowered on the interior often, and I credit that to Turgeon's defensive prowess. It led to friction between coach and star, and it's hard to imagine that focus on defensive play wasn't a factor in Stoglin's decision to leave once the suspension came down.

Ben B:

Hmm … I don't know if I've been blown away with any one aspect just yet, though I certainly don't have any big complaints. His timeout and substitution management was stellar early in the year but by the end of the season he seemed a bit slow to react to opposition runs. He engineered that incredible, energetic comeback against Virginia, but there were enough Second Half Droughts that I don't know if I can call in-game adjustments a huge strong point just yet. Probably the most impressive thing was player development, as we saw visible improvement in almost everyone throughout the course of the year, especially Nick Faust, James Padgett, and Terrell Stoglin. Turgeon has a reputation as a top-notch teacher, and I have a hunch that's where his mark will be made more than anywhere else.

Ben G:

Like Ben B. said, I’m not sure there’s one thing that’s been overly impressive about his coaching ability. I wanted to go with the improvement of the team defense but after looking at some numbers, team defense wasn’t all that impressive. I think his ability to get guys to buy in was probably his greatest strength. As we’ve seen from the other major program, it’s not always easy for a new coach to come in and get everybody on the same page. Turgeon did that pretty effectively considering he had to deal with some "challenging" personalities last year.

Dave:

One thing that stood out to me was Turgeon's willingness to pull a player if they weren't doing what he wanted, like playing defense. That isn't the easiest thing to do when you've just taken over a group of players that you didn't recruit. I was also impressed with his D and was happy to see that they ran a faster pace offense, more similar to what we were used to rather than the slower Texas A&M offense we thought we might see.



3. When Stoglin said he was coming back, Maryland was a trendy top 25 pick to start the 2012-2013 season. With his departure, what are your expectations for this team next year?

Ben G:

I think it’s probably foolish to say that losing Stoglin is somehow going to make the team better next year. However, I do think this program might be better long-term sans Stoglin. With 6 impressionable freshmen coming in, Turgeon needs this team to be led by guys like Nick Faust and Pe’Shon Howard – not so much by a guy who struggled to get his teammates involved and rarely ran the offense.

In terms of next year, I think this is a bubble team. A lot depends on how big a jump Nick Faust and Alex Len make. Considering how much Faust improved throughout the season, I’m expecting big things from him. Len, too, should be much improved. Add in a very talented group of freshmen and I could definitely see this team squeaking in the Tourny.

Ben B:

Just a bit better than last year, probably. Depending on how the freshmen conform to Turgeon's plan and adapt to the big leagues - which is a bit of a crapshoot, honestly - and how crafty Turgeon can get in the Xs and Os, the NCAA Tournament is an outside possibility. But I'm not expecting that, per se. I am expecting an NIT appearance and a few more upsets than we saw last season, but when introducing six players into the team, you have to leave a large margin for error. Not much would surprise me next year, past regressing or challenging for a conference title.

Now, in 2013, that's when the real basketball starts.

Pete:

I'm still cautiously optimistic that the Terps will have a successful year, because they're building an actual team instead of relying on one star player. The biggest difference between this year and last is without a doubt the depth Maryland has added - depth that has been somewhat depleted with three recent departures, but depth that will help set them up for future success.

In terms of this season, I'd say anywhere between third and seventh in the ACC. My gut tells me fourth. Again, I'm optimistic.

Dave:

I'm still hopeful that they'll be improved over last season. I think with Stoglin, assuming he continued to buy in, they would have finished the season around the Top 25 and in the NCAA tournament. Without him, I'm hopefully that it will allow Faust to step up and develop into the primary scoring option for Maryland, which could hopefully help them in the long run. I'm expecting them to be a bubble team, but it depends on how well Pe'Shon does coming back from his injury, who runs the point and how well they do so, and how well the other freshmen perform and develop.

Alright, we've got three more questions to answer, so keep an eye out for part II of our basketball roundtable.

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