May 9, 2011, 10:56 PM EDT
Maryland found its successor to Gary Williams. Didn’t take too long, either.
Four days after the Hall of Fame coach retired, the Terps hired Texas A&M’s Mark Turgeon. Arizona’s Sean Miller passed on the job Saturday, but it was too tempting for Turgeon to pass up.
“It was a very tough decision. Probably my best team coming back,” Turgeon told FOXSports.com’s Jeff Goodman. “But Maryland was too good of an opportunity to pass up. Tremendous area with so many good players and terrific support.”
It’s not a sexy hire. It won’t “win the press conference” the way getting Miller or someone like Shaka Smart would have. But given the odd timing of Williams’ retirement and Turgeon’s solid record, it’s a good move. This analogy works well. And here’s why.
In 13 seasons as a head coach – including stints at Wichita State and Jacksonville State – his overall record of 249-158 isn’t stellar. But he’s only had two losing seasons in that span, which is no small feat given his coaching stops. Turgeon rebuilt Wichita State and reached a Sweet 16 in 2006. He’s won 97 games in four seasons at A&M, including four straight trips to the NCAA tournament.
That’ll be the bare minimum of what’s expected at Maryland, but it’s reasonable to expect him to fulfill that. If he can win at A&M, he’ll certainly have a chance at a Maryland. But there’s more.
Roy Williams and Gary Williams both recommended Turgeon. Turgeon’s lauded for his Xs and Os and has even landed Maryland-area recruits.
If there’s a downfall, it’s that his teams played sleep-inducing offense of late. They’re efficient, but they’re a far cry from what Williams was running the last few years. A&M averaged 62 possessions a game last season. Maryland had nearly 10 more possessions an outing. Faster may not result in more victories, but it can appease fans.
Turgeon will need the right mix of players, though. Tony Bennett’s first few ACC seasons haven’t been a treat for Virginia fans, though his team’s slow style isn’t completely to blame.
(Note to self: Avoid the Maryland-Virginia games next season.)
Hey, if Turgeon lands more skilled recruits, he could tweak his style. His Shockers teams ran when he first got to Wichita. If he gets the players, he may run again.
But I’m guessing the style may be immaterial if the Terps start winning 25 games and start reaching Sweet 16s again. Winning always manages to win over a fan base.
And that’s the one thing Turgeon’s always managed to do.
You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.
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