Mark Turgeon Excited for New Team, Season

Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon likes the team's chemistry with the season coming up.

Mark Turgeon's first season as the head coach of the Maryland Terrapins basketball team saw him take over the storied program led by legendary head coach Gary Williams and transformed into one with a different identity. Now with a year under his belt and a new class of talented freshmen and transfers, Turgeon is ready to make a splash in the ACC and college basketball.

The roster will look a lot different this season with Sean Mosley and Berend Weijs graduating, Terrell Stoglin, the ACC's leading scorer last season, leaving to play professional basketball, and Ashton Pankey and Mychal Parker transferring to other schools. In their place, a group of freshmen led by Seth Allen, Shaquille Cleare, and Jake Layman will join the likes of Nick Faust and Alex Len to become the new faces of Maryland basketball.

“We feel comfortable with our team,” Turgeon said. “Pe'Shon [Howard]'s healthy now. He's been practicing full speed for a little over a week. It's good to have him back. It's amazing how much better the four returning scholarship players have gotten with Pe'Shon, Nick [Faust], Alex [Len] and James [Padgett] and their improvement and understanding in what the coaching staff wants is great. It feels good. We know we've got problems just like every other team does this time of year. Standing here today and a year ago, I feel like we're much further along. We'll see if it translates.”

The younger players have impressed Turgeon and his coaching staff along with the other players on the team. This year's freshman class brings in a lot of size, something that the Terps' lacked last year against bigger teams such as Duke and North Carolina.

“I think they were all just a little better than I was anticipating so that's a good sign,” Turgeon said. “They've still got a long way to go, but they're that way.”

The Atlantic Coastal Conference is primarily a basketball conference and Turgeon had to quickly adapt after coaching at Texas A&M, then in the Big 12 Conference, a conference known for its football.

“The ACC's gotten a lot better since I took the job,” Turgeon said. “It's going to be down the road. It's a different league. It's a longer, taller, athletic league than what I came from.”

Even though the players have not played in a game together, Turgeon and the rest of the team have noticed the chemistry and bonding amongst the players. A big reason for this chemistry is the lack of egos amongst players, according to Turgeon.

“I think our chemistry is great right now, but we haven't played a game,” Turgeon said. “My philosophy right now is that everyone thinks they're starting. Not everybody can start. Our upperclassmen, our returning players, have done a great job of accepting our new guys because, one, the guys that are still around have a tremendous character and the guys we have recruited have a tremendous character so therefore they kind of blend in with each other so the acceptance has been great. And the guys we signed, they don't have egos.”

On a team filled with young players, a big need is for leadership on the team. Turgeon obviously looks towards many of the former players in Faust and Padgett for leadership, but expects all of his players to step up and become a leader on the team in some way or another.

“I think what I've learned over the last three or four weeks is that there's more built-in leaders in our group than I thought. There will be two or three who actually lead the team, but there's other guys who are capable of being leaders. That's exciting for me.”

With an improved roster and better recruiting efforts, Turgeon will look to take this young Maryland team to greater success. The season will kick off in a month against the defending champions, the Kentucky Wildcats in the newly opened Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., the first test for the Terps who are itching to make a name for themselves.

“I think the national spotlight is coming,” Turgeon said. “I think we all know that.”

TerrapinTimes Top Stories