Coaching Challenge: Maryland’s Mark Turgeon

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Four ACC coaches are out, four new ones are in. That was the easy part. The fun part begins now. Each new coach has to deal with their unique challenges.

MARK TURGEON (MARYLAND)

You know what, after looking over the Terrapins’ 2010-2011 roster, I’m starting to understand why Gary Williams left when he did.

Thanks to graduations and a early departure, Coach Tugreon will have his hands full in his first season in College Park. The Terrapins will lose four of their top five players, including the beast in the paint, Jordan Williams.

Worse yet, while Turgeon was able to salvage Billy Gillispie’s recruiting class when he was hired at Texas A&M, he’s had no such luck this time around as all of Gary Williams’ 2011 recruits have jumped ship (Update: Turgeon has managed to keep SG Nick Faust).

Turgeon was able to go get Seth Allen, a 6-2 (4-star) guard from Virginia (which was pretty impressive in the short amount of time he actually “recruited” him). He also was able to keep 2012 four-star forward Justin Anderson, who is friends with Seth Allen.

The reality is, in the short term, the Maryland faithful should remain patient. The fact is, Gary Williams only managed a 19-14 record with Jordan Williams a host of seniors. Can Turgeon do better with less in 2011-2012?

Looking ahead to just next season, you can’t really expect too much from Maryland. The fact is, they’ll potentially be starting three sophomores and one (average) senior in Sean Mosley. Most of the Terrapins’ scoring will come from the outside with Stoglin, Mosley and Howard. The question is, can anyone bang down low? I’m assuming Padgett gets the start, but look for Ashton Pankey to get a serious look. He’s not much of an offensive threat, but he’s bigger and can do the dirty work underneath.

POTENTIAL 2011-2012 STARTING LINEUP
F – James Padgett (Junior)
F – Haukur Palsson (Soph)
G – Pe’Shon Howard (Soph)
G – Sean Mosley (Sen)
G – Terrell Stoglin (Soph)

While Mark Turgeon has built a reputation on getting players to play above their pay grade, it’s hard to believe he’s going to be able to deliver a tournament team next season. There are just too many young pieces trying to fit into a new system.

However, when you look down the road, you have to believe no other ACC coach that’s been hired the past two seasons has a better opportunity than Turgeon. The Terrapins are sitting smack in the middle of a rich basketball talent pool. Both Baltimore and the Washington D.C. area deliver a ton of solid recruits. If Turgeon can really tap into this resource and convince some of these kids to stay close to home, then watch out.

Already, Turgeon appears to be moving in this direction. He’s trying to bring Dalonte Hill onto his staff. The Washington Post had this to say about Hill:

"(Allen) has ties to the Washington area’s top two travel teams and knows the region well – would signify Turgeon’s plan to be aggressive when it comes to recruiting locally. One source said that if Hill goes to Maryland, “There are going to be some mean recruiting wars” between local schools."

Of the four new coaches (Turgeon, Jim Larranaga, Mark Gottfried and Brian Gregory), Turgeon is probably the best of the bunch. The question will be, how much of a window of opportunity does he have? Will Maryland accept 20 win seasons, with early exits from the NCAA Tournament (like his Texas A&M teams)? Probably not. He’s going to have to do more than just that and I’m guessing he’s going to have about four years do to it.