Long-time Maryland men's basketball head coach Gary Williams announced his retirement from coaching on May 5, 2011.
Four days later, the Williams era officially ended when the school announced the signing of Texas A&M head coach Mark Turgeon.
Williams, 66, began his stint as the head basketball coach in 1989, and 22 seasons later, made the decision to step away. He will remain at Maryland (his alma mater) and serve as the school's special assistant to the athletic director.
In his career at UMD, Williams took the team to 14 NCAA tournament appearances, two trips to the Final Four and a National Championship in 2002. Maryland failed to make both the NCAA and NIT tournaments this past season with a 19-14 record, but Gary finished his stint with a 461-252 overall record.
What will Turgeon bring to the table for the Terps in 2011?
In his short tenure as the head coach of the A & M Aggies, Turgeon's squad never made it further than the second round of the NCAA tournament (four appearances in four seasons), although they did consistently compete in the Big 12 Conference each year.
With a 97-40 regular season record over that span, the Aggies showed they could keep up with the big dogs in the Big 12. But I think it was while coaching the Wichita State Shockers that Turgeon first caught the attention of fans and media.
After a couple of losing seasons in Wichita (2000-2001, 2001-2002), Turgeon's crew made it to three straight NIT tournaments from 2002-2004 before breaking in to the NCAA tournament's Sweet 16. Finishing the regular season with a 24-8 record and a first-place finish in the Missouri Valley Conference, Turg's Shockers landed a No. 7 seed in the tourney and shocked the world with an upset of the second-seeded Tennessee Volunteers in the second round.
They were finally upset by the regional champions George Mason Patriots, who then entered the Final Four as an 11th-seeded Cinderella.
It was a great run for the team, and that season may have been what drew interest from other teams such as the Aggies.
Turgeon has also been head coach for the Jacksonville State Gamecocks (1998-2000) and assistant coach for his alma mater Kansas Jayhawks (1987-1992), Oregon Ducks (1992-1997) and the NBA's Philadelphia 76ers (1997-1998).
Gary was getting up there in age.
At 66, it appeared as though he was losing his fire and energy while roaming the Terps' sideline.
Turgeon? He has 20 years on Williams. At age 46 right now, Turgeon has a good 10-20 more years of screaming his lungs out and running up and down the court with his team at practice. As a coach, age really doesn't make too much of a difference. But the younger the coaching staff, the more they can relate with the players.
Don't get me wrong, 46 is still twice the age of his athletes, but it could make a slight difference if he can keep up with his players during practice and get a more personal experience with their head coach.
Yes, I understand. "Likeability" isn't a real word. Well, it is now.
Not only has Turgeon been going around looking for coaches to assemble his staff—which he has been doing with success, so far. But he has also been doing a little bit of traveling around the area and getting to know his surroundings.
A couple of days in to his new gig, Turgeon took time out of his day to meet and have a talk with Baltimore's City Council President Bernard C. Young, according to an article printed in the Baltimore Sun.
Young was quoted as saying his first impression of the new coach "was just amazing."
With plans to meet with other leaders of Baltimore, how can you not be falling in love with the new head coach already? He is not only a guy working for his paycheck; he has already shown signs of attempts at turning the program back to what it used to be.
Photo (Baltimoresun.com): Turgeon, right, with Bino Ransom (UMD assistant coach) and Bernard "Jack" Young
Just 20 days in to his tenure at Maryland, and Turgeon has already done a little bit of recruiting.
The recruitment of players will not resume again until around July. It was coaching Turg went out and recruited, bringing in last season's assistant coach at Kansas State, Dalonte Hill, to assist him in rebuilding the Terps in to ACC winners.
Coach Gary was known to recruit the non-star players and develop them into astounding Division I student-athletes, which has worked very well for him, producing four NBA lottery picks since 1992.
It seems as though Turgeon has a natural ability in recruiting, already having recruited hot commodities in assistant coaches, Hill and his associate HC at A&M Scott Spinelli, Turgeon added (well, actually re-added) yet another recruit about 12 days ago.
Maryland's top recruit for 2011, Nick Faust, who was recruited under coach Gary, got a "release" from committing to Maryland once he found out the new of the coach's retirement. But, after a meeting with Turgeon, Faust re-committed. This actually just so happened to take place on the same day that Turg brought in Hill.
Photo borrowed from Univ. of MD's school website
Turgeon has gotten a taste of what it feels like to win games in the NCAA tournament, taking the underdog Shockers to the Sweet Sixteen.
He understands the tradition and success that the program has had in the past, and he is poised to lead this young Terps team back to the promise-land.
By taking two different teams to tournament appearances in five of the past six seasons, the Terps' fanbase has a lot to look forward to with the championship-hungry intensity of Turgeon now roaming the arena sidelines in 2011.
It's very clear that Turgeon has the will and desire to win, but many of his former players have said that he treats his players well.
He has even been said to be almost like a father figure, in addition to head coach, for some of these players. With student-athletes who are on scholarship, this is a very important trait to have as a head coach, considering some of these players are only there in an attempt to make it as a professional one day.
Having both a coach and a guy who can motivate these young men to perform to the best of their ability and stay ahead on their school work is a blessing for colleges and universities.
Like I said in the introductory, Turgeon kept his Aggies competitive all four seasons he was at the helm at A&M.
With his teams producing 20-plus wins seven times since 2000, and the fact that he brought in his associate head coach from A&M, I wouldn't be surprised if the coaching staff he has put together so far meshes very well and transforms this Maryland squad to a competitive force for the next six to eight years.
The Aggie fans seemed to have been the driving force in Turgeon's exit and arrival at Maryland.
Over the past year or so, Mark had expressed displeasure in the Aggies' "inconsistent" fanbase, and as I've discovered, the Terrapins are known for having a very passionate fan base and a solid history as a sports program.
As you can tell from his introductory interview, Turgeon is well aware of Maryland's fanbase and great history. He wants the fans to be into the game, and I think he will get just that while coaching the Terps basketball team in the Comcast Center.
With a guard-oriented offense at A&M, it looks like 2011's offense will be built around rising sophomore Terrell Stoglin.
After a 2009 season with 10 points and five rebounds per game, junior Sean Mosley saw less playing time in 2010 after the emergence of seniors Cliff Tucker, Adrian Bowie and new-coming freshman Stoglin. Behind sophomore forward Jordan Williams—Maryland's star that will enter the NBA draft this year— Stoglin became the team's second-best scorer, averaging 11.4 points per game in 2010.
The departures of Tucker, Bowie and Williams clears the way for Stoglin to turn this squad in to his team as a sophomore.
If Coach Turgeon can convince the young Stoglin to return to Maryland in 2011 rather than transferring (he reportedly told an assistant coach that he may transfer after Gary's retirement), then I think Stoglin could break out and lead this team to some big wins this season.
Not only is Turgeon himself,looking for a fresh start, as he leaves his 97-40 regular season record and four NCAA tournament appearances back in Texas A&M, but the Maryland basketball squad is also looking for a fresh start.
In 2010, the Terps missed both major tournaments (NCAA and NIT) for the first time since the 1992-93 season, and it was just the fourth time it had happened during Williams' tenure.
It's been nearly a decade since Gary and the Terps cut down the nets, and with a majority of 2010's starters now gone, what better time to get off to a fresh start? Terrell Stoglin and recruit Nick Faust give this program hope for the coming years.