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Asked what the transition from College Station to College Park was like, Mark Turgeon said moving his family…and, well, the Washington, D.C. area traffic.
It was the same response he offered five months earlier when he was named the new Maryland head basketball coach. Not replacing the legend who sprinted up and down the sidelines for the last 22 years, not finding enough players to put together a formidable roster – family.
"The first that we came in, the first thing he said is it's a family," senior guard Sean Mosley said. "For me, that's one thing that made me come to Maryland, and I felt welcome, and Maryland was a second home to me. When coach Turgeon said that my eyes lit up."
Mosley is the lone senior on the Terps roster, and Turgeon calls him his coach on the floor. When he first arrived in College Park he spoke to Mosley's parents, both on the phone and in person. It was important for both parties to feel comfortable with each other.
Mr. and Mrs. Mosley loved coach Turgeon, and Sean loved the atmosphere the new head coach was creating. It reminded him of four years earlier, when Gary Williams recruited him out of Baltimore to come play for him at Maryland.
The family-oriented atmosphere has been well received throughout the team. The players are buying into that Turgeon philosophy. Sophomore guard Terrell Stoglin said Turgeon is constantly preaching family values and instilling them into the team.
"Even when I talk to him personally," Stoglin said, "he always talks about family values and just being together as a team. He said if we're a family as a team, then we're going to win together as a team. That's how he feels. That's how I feel as well."
With his players and staff believing in him, Turgeon said that right now is his favorite time of the year to be a basketball coach. That's because for right now he's not just their coach, he's their teacher.
Turgeon said he loves the fact that right he has eight scholarship athletes and right now they are all under the impression that they are going to be the starter Nov. 13 against UNC Wilmington. Their minds, open; hearts, heavy; and they've yet to practice more than an hour or play in a competitive game.
"This is the best time of the year to be a head coach," Turgeon said. "This is the time of the year you get to teach and games don't get in the way. I know that sounds crazy. Games are fun and exciting and the crowd is into it, but practice is where you get everything done and get to teach."
James Padgett was expected to be a key contributor last season, but ended up playing fewer than nine minutes per game. When it was all said and done, he averaged three points and two rebounds per game.
With shallow depth and inexperience plaguing the frontcourt this year, the now-junior is going to be called upon to step up and fill the void left by senior Dino Gregory. With Turgeon tutoring him now, Padgett says he finally understands the purpose of the drills he's doing.
"He explains everything with detail so you understand why you do it, so it makes it easier to do it. It's easier to understand why you're doing something; it becomes second nature to you," Padgett said. "He has high expectations and is very involved with details, teaching players and working on players as individuals."
Mosley said Turgeon's attention to detail is reminiscent of Williams' style – if you mess up, he'll stop the play and teach it you to you. After that, you are expected to know it.
That style, says the players, makes Turgeon a great teacher. And the confidence he instills during practice is helping the Terps forget all about the publications' season predictions, which on average have forecasted the team finishing 11th in the ACC.
Turgeon said there's definitely a chip on his shoulder and his players'. And although he wouldn't make any glamorous claims for where he expects his team to finish this year, his players said they're in store for some big wins.
"He's real confident as a coach. He puts a lot of confidence into his players," Stoglin said. "Even though we're undersized he still has us feeling like we're going to get good wins this year. That's something I admire about him."