WASHINGTON (AP) — Less than a week after a fourth offseason transfer from Maryland’s basketball team, athletic director Kevin Anderson gave his backing to coach Mark Turgeon, who hasn’t reached the NCAA tournament in three years at the school.
“I totally support Mark,” Anderson said Tuesday, when both men attended a news conference to announce that the Verizon Center will host the Big Ten Conference tournament in 2017.
Maryland moves from the ACC to the Big Ten in July, and Anderson was asked how important next season is for the men’s basketball program.
“For the entire department, this is critical — in how we go into the Big Ten and how we compete,” Anderson said.
Since the end of last season, when Maryland went 17-15 and missed out on the NCAA and NIT tournaments, guard Seth Allen, forward Nick Faust, center Shaq Cleare, and guard Roddy Peters all left the team.
“I’m a little bit of everything — surprised, angry, disappointed,” Turgeon said. “All those emotions come into it. But what am I going to do? Am I going to sit here and cry about it? No. I’m going to recruit players and get to 13 (scholarships) and … we’ll hopefully be a tighter group because of it.”
Turgeon called Allen’s departure, which was announced Friday, “a big surprise,” and Anderson agreed.
Allen averaged 13.4 points as a sophomore in 2013-14 after missing the first 12 games with a broken foot.
“It’s unfortunate. Tried to save it. Parents tried to save it. But just wasn’t going to happen,” Turgeon said.
Since arriving from Texas A&M, Turgeon has a 59-43 record with one trip to the NIT.
He replaced Gary Williams, who retired with the most coaching wins in Maryland history and led the school to the 2002 national championship.
“At A&M, we didn’t have guys leave. At Texas A&M, they just didn’t leave. Guys didn’t leave. You could ask a guy to leave and he wouldn’t leave,” Turgeon said. “Right now guys are leaving. We’ll get it corrected and we’ll move on.”
Both he and Anderson said they don’t think there is a pattern to the spate of transfers at Maryland, calling them individual matters.
But Turgeon knows he’ll need to address the topic while trying to attract new players.
“Whenever you lose four players, you’re going to have to justify it in some way, so it’s going to be a big part of my discussions in recruiting moving forward, and I understand that,” he said.
Turgeon also acknowledged that one thing that can help stop players from heading elsewhere “is winning, and winning at a high level.”
“We haven’t done that yet,” he said.
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