Four Questions For Mark Turgeon

3/26/2014 3:08:42 PM It's hard to overstate how bitterly disappointing this past basketball season was for Maryland alumni and fans.  The team did not make any of the expected gains and wound up far away from any of the goals they set at the beginning of the season.

Mark Turgeon is the leader and face of the program.  As such, the successes and failures fall on his shoulders. Turgeon's tenure is at a crossroads.  Next year will be crucial in determining his future.  He will need to answer several questions next season if he is to remain in College Park.  In my view, here they are:

1.  Does he have the fans behind him?

In the beginning, shortly after Gary's retirement, the fans loved Turgeon.  He made some nice assistant coaching hires (Dalonte Hill, retaining Bino Ranson) that made us feel like the necessary effort and focus would be put to recruiting (something lacking during Gary Williams's time).

On the court, he took a gutted squad and led them to a winning season.  His team showed flashes of being able to execute his game plan.  Everyone was happy.  Then last year the team failed to make the dance, but they were young.  The Terps beat Duke twice and made it to the final weekend of the NIT tournament.  NCAAs are always the baseline for success, but all things considered, the team was improving and fan base was encouraged. 

Until this year.  The Terps stumbled out of the gate (partly due to Seth Allen being out and partly due to them taking nights off) and never really found their groove.  Maryland gave away games at NC State and Clemson (not to mention BU and GW) and they couldn't close the deal against good team (see Syracuse, Duke, UConn). 

The frustration started mounting.  "Turgeon's players weren't getting better."  "They were ill-suited to his system."  "He got outcoached by Mike Gottfried!"  The fan base began to exhibit buyer's remorse. 

So where are the fans now?  I'd say that Turgeon will need to hit the ground running next season.  No bad losses or turnover fests in the pre-conference schedule.  Otherwise, the grumbling will become deafening.  Otherwise the pressure will mount to replace him.

2.  Can Turgeon beat the big teams?

Turgeon's tenure has been plagued with a lack of marquee wins.  Outside of the two Duke wins last year and this year's season ending win against a UVA team with nothing to play for, the Terps haven't really beaten anybody.  They've come close but in the end, our players either make a crucial mistake (Mitchell vs Duke this year) or Turgeon gets outcoached for 40 minutes (see the Syracuse game). This must change.  There is no chance that Maryland goes to the dance without some big wins in the B1G next season.

3.  Can he make his recruits better?

So far the answer is no.  Faust has regressed. Roddy Peters too.   Dez has improved marginally.  Shaq Cleare is no better than he was as a freshman.  Mitchell has gotten better but nowhere near where he needs to be to be effective.  Seth Allen is the only one who has shown marked improvement.  Turgeon has a big class coming in and if those guys don't get better as the season goes on, then the Terps will again be stuck in quicksand. 

Turgeon needs to prove that his lack of success in getting his players to play better is more about them and not his teaching abilities.  If it's the latter, we are screwed.

4.  Is there a grand plan?

What is Maryland basketball's identity as we move to the B1G?  Are we a motion offense?  Are we a run and gun pressing team?  Do we suit the scheme to the players abilities?  Are we going to jack 30 threes per game?  Nothing seems clear to me right now.

What about recruiting?  Are we building a moat around the DMV?  Will we go after Chicago players now that we are in their media market?  To go from good to great, there needs to be a plan. I want to hear what Turgeon's vision is over the next 5 years so that we can get back to the Final Four.

If we are sitting on the sidelines next March, there will either be an open revolt from the fanbase or the apathy will approach levels that make the Washington Wizards an attractive alternative.

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