Exclusive interview with Mark Turgeon

Exclusive interview with Mark Turgeon
October 21, 2011, 2:23 pm
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By Benjamin Standig
CSNwashington.comCSNwashington recently conducted an exclusive interview with Maryland basketball coach Mark Turgeon, touching base on basketball topics including recruiting and NCAA rules he would change. Other meaty topics discussed with the 46-year-old former Texas A&M coach? Kobe or LeBron, Michael Jackson or Prince and who wins a game of one-on-one between the local college coachesCSNwashington: Have you felt a difference, perhaps more scrutiny being at Maryland and in the D.C.-Baltimore bubble compared to your other stops along the way?Mark Turgeon: Not really because Im so ingrained in what Im doing. I know there are a lot of people around here that care which is great, I love that part of it. As far as scrutiny and size of the program, I havent had a lot of time to think about that.CSN: On the recruiting trail, are more doors opening, more opportunities to speak with top prospects than when you were at Texas A&M?MT: We hit the ground running, we put together a pretty good staff here. Were all on the same page when it comes to recruiting and coaching this team. When we got here, we had to keep Nick Faust and we figured out a way to do that. Were out there working, trying to get players. Maryland is a special product to sell, has a lot of great tradition. Its easy to sell. We also have a lot of playing time to sell. Were down on numbers so we have a lot of scholarships to give. Kids in the end, they what to go play for a winner and go somewhere they have a chance to play right away. We can offer both those things right away.CSN: The recent Michigan Fab Five documentary reminds us that the heraldedclass came together when Juwan Howard signed and the others followed. Has the addition of a major recruit like 6-9 forward Shaquille Cleare from Houston provided you with a similar opportunity?MT: I cant comment on Cleare specifically because he hasnt signed, but we felt if we could get one really good player to commit, it would be out tipping point, which would help us recruit others. Guys want to win and play with other good players.CSN: After the Maryland football team was soundly defeated by Temple, coach Randy Edsall described the evolving situation as a process. Some in the media took that to mean he was viewing the football program as a rebuild project, to which Edsall later came out and said that it was not. With a thin roster, do view the basketball program as a rebuild?MT: Its definitely a not a rebuild. Its not broken. Were coming off a season where we didnt make the postseason and we lost four of our top five scorers. Weve added one piece and hopefully two pieces with Ukrainian 7-1 center Alex Len. You add pieces, its a process.If we had the exact team four years from now, wed win a lot more games than we might win this year since its my first year and you have to teach everybody. Thats what Randy is going through in football. If this was his fourth season as coach and he had this team right now, they would be much further along. CSN: Would you like to a play game in Baltimore?MT: We definitely want to do that. Wed love to play a game there every year if we could. If it fits right, were going to try and do it.CSN: Veering away from the Maryland questions One of the topics expected to be addressed as part of the NBA lockout is when players can turn professional. Do you like the current rule where players can leave after one season? Would you like the college baseball rule where high school kids can head straight to the pros, but must stay for three years or a designated amount of time if they go to college?MT: I think baseballs is the best one. Its hard to tell a kid he cant go make money, but I like if they want to turn pro straight out of high school they can go and if not they stay a certain amount of years. I dont think ones enough. I dont think thats fair to college basketball or the kid, or the NBA to be quite honest.I think youd see more of them graduate, stick around. They would realize they werent as good as they thought they were and that a degree would be pretty important.CSN: Based on the current rules, would you recruit a likely one-and-done player? MT: Id go after that kid, absolutely. If he can help us win games and win a national championship in that one year, were going to try and do it. If hes a good character kid, were going to go after him. We just know if we sign that kid we have to cover our tail on the backside cause he wont be here long.CSN: For one day, you are the czar of college basketball. What rule on or off the court would you change?MT: One thing I would do is make officiating universal. I know it would have to be geographical in a way, but put them under one umbrella so you dont have Big East officials or ACC officials. You just have NCAA basketball officials. I dont know if it will or not, but its difficult to do. I know we have one guy in charge of the way officials ref, but to me each league officiates differently.CSN: Best player you ever played with or against?MT: (Former teammate at Kansas Danny Manning. He just had a feel for the game. He was one of the first 6-9 guys that could dribble. Great skill. Man among boys. Danny stayed four years, which just doesnt just happen anymore.CSN: Kobe or LeBron? MT: Two years ago, I would have said LeBron, before the Cleveland debacle, but probably Kobe. I still think LeBron is great and has done a lot of good thing for the game, but Kobe has won more championships.(During the conversation, Turgeon mentioned an affinity for the Magic Johnson-Larry Bird rivalry)CSN: OK, Magic or Bird? MT: Why are you doing that to me? I was always a Celtics fan so I probably pick Bird, but I looooved Magic.CSN: Lets go all Barbara Walters here. Tell us something we dont know about Mark Turgeon.MT: Im pretty boring. I really just do my job and my family. I have a young family and were really invested in their development right now. CSN: Do you watch other sports?MT: I love football, college and pro.CSN: OK, NFL question. Not factoring in the current injuryTom Brady or Peyton Manning? MT: Manning. I just love how hes a student of the game, what a great athlete. I thought he just carried his team, which is just pretty obvious now thats hurt.CSN: Movies? MT: My wife and I go. I like to laugh. (Favorite actors?) Ben StillerI like his movies, theyre silly. Not a lot of substance. I like those movies.CSN: DiCaprio or Damon? MT: DamonCSN:Whats on your IPod? MT: All old school stuff, 70s and 80s. Ive got a little bit of everything, Motown, Rolling Stones.CSN: Rolling Stones or Beatles? MT: Rolling StonesCSN: Michael Jackson or Prince? MT: Michael JacksonCSN: You played college basketball at Kansas. Georgetown coach John Thompson III played at Princeton. Americans Jeff Jones played at Virginia. Mike Lonergan (George Washington) and Paul Hewitt (George Mason) are also new to the area coaching scene. We throw a basketball out on the court and you all play one-on-one, who wins?MT: Ive got a bad hip so it wont be me, I know that. I dont know how he was as a player, but Hewitt has some good size so he might be tough. But, I dont think anybody would want to watch that.CSN: If we turn it into a game of HORSE, do your odds of winning increase?MT: Yes, then I have a chance.