Homecoming (Sort of) Kind For Turgeon

Just 18 minutes before the KU-Texas A&M game last night at Allen Fieldhouse, Aggies' head coach Mark Turgeon sat on the visitors' bench, a place reserved in the past for KU enemies like former Missouri coach Norm Stewart and ex-Oklahoma coach Billy Tubbs.

Turgeon, the former KU standout point guard (1983-87), seemed relaxed making his first appearance in Allen Fieldhouse as an opposing head coach. He fiddled with his tie and clasped his hands together as a photographer kneeled down just a few feet from him snapping pictures.

Turgeon took time to shake hands from well-wishers, pointed at familiar faces in the stands, and received some warm pats on the back.

He walked over to the KU bench and hugged his former teammate and current KU assistant coach Danny Manning, while exchanging banter with Jayhawk head man Bill Self and embracing Kansas sophomore guard Brady Morningstar.

Then at 7:58 p.m., the public address announcer introduced Turgeon's name as the crowd gave him a resounding ovation. Turgeon graciously waved to the crowd.

And then his homecoming was basically over.

KU jumped out to an 8-0 lead and stretched it to 18-4 at the 14:24 mark. A&M never recovered.

"It all started on the first shot," Turgeon lamented after his Aggies fell 73-53. "Cole Aldrich kind of whipped my guy, got the offensive rebound and threw it out to (Sherron) Collins and he hits the three. That's just kind of the way it went. I thought KU made a lot of shots we expected them to make. (KU shot 57.1 percent in the first half and 50.9 percent for the game.)

"I thought they were great offensively. And we turned it over too much tonight (20 turnovers, including 13 in the first half). They did a great job on Josh Carter (seven points on 2 of 6 shooting). Morningstar did a great job on him, so we never really got Josh going. It wasn't one of our better nights, but I think KU had a lot to do with it."

Turgeon wasn't thrilled with his team's effort.

"I thought at times (it) was pretty good, a lot of times I didn't think it was great," he said. "We didn't get many loose balls. We talked about that at halftime, we talked about it during a lot of timeouts. We had a lot of guys not play well. I thought every loose ball in the first half, they came up with."
 
Despite the loss and falling to 1-3 in the Big 12 (15-4 overall), Turgeon was glad to return to Allen Fieldhouse.

"It's good to be home," he said. "I love this place. You asked about effort, that's the one thing I played with and my team didn't play with it tonight so it's a little disappointing. It's good to see family, and it's good just to be in this building. I've been coming to this building since I was 4 or 5 years old.

"I have a lot of great memories. I saw a lot of familiar faces tonight, which makes you feel good. And this place, people always treat me well here.  It makes me feel good. But obviously we didn't perform well."

Turgeon was quite impressed with the Jayhawks.

"KU is KU," he said of Self's 14-4 team (3-0 in Big 12). "They are getting better. They have two really good ones (Collins and Aldrich). I thought (Marcus) Morris (10 points) played well tonight. And Morningstar (six boards, four assists and two steals) is such a big part of their team. He does a great job defensively. They were prepared, we were prepared, too. I thought we had a great game plan defensively, we just didn't execute it very well."

With his homecoming now history, the former Jayhawk is ready to move on.

"Let's hope that next time we come here," Turgeon said, "we play a little bit better."

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