Turgeon a pure-bred champion

With a pedigree of basketball hall of famers, including three 500-game winners, and the man who invented the game, how can A&M go wrong with new head coach Mark Turgeon? Aggie Websider takes a look at the line of coaches who have passed down their championship experience all the way to Turgeon, a legacy that A&M hopes he continues to build on.

He's got 75 combined conference titles, 19 Final Fours, seven national championships, 17 conference Coach of the Year Awards and nine National Coach of the Year Awards in his family tree. That basketball family tree begins with James Naismith—who invented the game—and there's nothing but champions in between.

But Naismith would have never believed that so many people would become coaches of the sport he invented. In fact, he never thought anyone would coach the game.

He always thought that basketball was too spontaneous to coach, but his pupil, Phog Allen replied, "You can coach them to pass at angles and run in curves."

Allen did just that, becoming the first known basketball coach at any level, and revolutionizing the game of basketball along the way. Allen coached at the University of Kansas from 1919 to 1956 and compiled a record of 770-223 (.775) with 30 conference titles and three national championships, proving that the game could, indeed, be coached.

Allen's 1952 national championship squad included a young man by the name of Dean Smith—Turgeon's "grandfather."

Up until 2007, Smith was atop the record books for most wins in Division I basketball history with 879 wins. He compiled a .776 winning percentage in his 36 years of coaching—22 of which resulted in 25 wins or more.

Smith also went 35 consecutive years without a losing season, finishing in the top three in the Atlantic Coast Conference for 33 consecutive years. His Tar Heels went to 27 NCAA Tournaments (23 consecutive trips), 11 Final Fours and won two national titles.

Oh, and he graduated nearly 97 percent of his players while doing so.

One of those players was a point guard named Larry Brown, who was a standout for Smith at North Carolina but considered to be too small for the NBA. He began his coaching career instead, and in 2004, became the first coach in basketball history to win both an NCAA and NBA championship.

That NCAA championship was at Kansas in 1988, and on the bench was a first-year assistant coach named Mark Turgeon, who was also a college point guard considered too small for the NBA.

Turgeon had a chance to learn from Brown, who Insidehoops.com names as the "best teacher in the entire basketball coaching world."

But Brown wasn't the only connection to the championship family tree.

When Brown left Kansas to coach the NBA's San Antonio Spurs, another Dean Smith protégé—Roy Williams—influenced Turgeon as well.

Turgeon served as an assistant coach at Kansas for a total of five seasons, just the one championship season under Brown (1987-88) and four under Williams (1988-92). The Jayhawks made the NCAA Tournament four of those seasons, adding a runner-up finish in 1991. Kansas also won back-to-back Big Eight Conference titles in 1991-92.

Allen, Smith and Williams all won more than 500 games at the collegiate level. Brown undoubtedly would have joined that club had he spent more time in the college ranks before bouncing around from one NBA team to another.

But one thing that all four coaches have in common is at least one national championship.

Texas A&M Director of Athletics Bill Byrne and Aggies everywhere are hoping that Turgeon can extend that streak to five.




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