Mark Zinno: Mark Turgeon – Right Coach, Wrong Program
When Kevin Plank and Under Armour took over the University of Maryland’s uniform contract and made all of the school’s athletic teams uniforms, they started putting large Maryland flags on the uniforms. And they had mixed reviews from people, but they were called Maryland Pride uniforms. And there is signage all over the campus that says Maryland Pride. Well, apparently, the pride didn’t run that deep for Seth Allen, nor Nick Faust, Shaq Cleare, Roddy Peters and walk-on AJ Metz. Five players in all have left Mark Turgeon’s program. Three years in, Turgeon was charged with turning around a program that had only seen one Sweet Sixteen since it won the National Championship in 2002.
College basketball is a different game now than 10 years ago. The landscape has changed, one-and-done’s dominate, conferences continue to re-align and what was a game dominated by the coaches, is now dictated by the players. And players want what they want. Jay Bilas who is as smart as they come, in general, and especially smart in college hoops says he isn’t concerned about the transfers.
While he is right to a point, I don’t think you can be nonchalant about this. There is clearly a problem here. And it needs to be addressed. Turgeon was quoted in the Baltimore Sun as saying, “You don’t lose four guys and say, ‘Oh, it can’t be me,’ ” Turgeon said. “This is new territory for me. This has never happened” during his career as a head coach. Really? Thanks! Of course this has never happened during your career as a coach … I don’t think it’s happened to any major college coach in America! Bilas went on to say it isn’t about the coach, it’s about the kids.
Again, he’s right to a point. The kids are different nowadays. They are short-sighted, they make bad decisions, they make impetuous decisions. But when one-third of your team leaves at the same time, something is up. And these weren’t all guys who just got here and didn’t like campus life, or couldn’t handle school, or have a new coach. They were recruited by Turgeon, they knew the deal, they accepted it all. And now they are leaving? That doesn’t add up to me.
And there is someone to blame. A couple of someone’s. Mark Turgeon is to blame. He clearly has lost some of these players that he got to commit to Maryland. He is clearly struggling to communicate, get the best out of them, get more out of them. And blame Kevin Anderson and Dr. Wallace Loh. Why? They failed to see the difference between Turgeon as a coach and program builder. I know one thing for a fact. Mark Turgeon is an incredible basketball coach. He is the kind of coach you want running a successful program. He knows the game and he’s respected by his peers. But he’s not the right fit for Maryland right now. We’ve talked about it all the time in sports, the best guy isn’t always the best fit.