Maryland’s Mark Turgeon coaches all-star team at Final Four

Mark Turgeon, shown earlier this season, coached an all-star team on the eve of the Final Four on Friday night.

ARLINGTON, Tex. — Friday’s College All-Star Game at AT&T Stadium on the eve of the Final Four represented a reunion, pitting two participants in the 1986 NCAA tournament Final Four against one another.

Only this time, Mark Turgeon and Johnny Dawkins were coaches rather than players.

Maryland’s Turgeon, a point guard on the 1986 Kansas squad, came away with the victory before a crowd of 15,401 Friday, with his East team of all-stars handing an 87-75 defeat to the West team coached by Stanford’s Dawkins, who ran the floor for Duke’s run to the title game 28 years ago.

Staged by the National Association of Basketball Coaches, the College All-Star Game offers a chance for some of the nation’s top seniors whose teams didn’t reach the Final Four to join the festivities and showcase their skills on the game’s biggest weekend.

Former Georgetown forward Jerrelle Benimon, who transferred to Towson, paced the East with 15 points on 7-of-8 shooting from the field, while adding eight rebounds, in his 19 minutes of work.

Joining Benimon in double figures was his former teammate, Georgetown point guard Markel Starks, who scored 10 points and grabbed four rebounds.

“That was like homecoming,” Starks said afterward. “I told Jerrelle when I found out he was coming, ‘Look man, we’re going to have fun!’ And we did.”

Looking on courtside with pride in both was Georgetown Coach John Thompson III, a member of the NABC’s Board of Directors.

Virginia Commonwealth’s Juvonte Reddic also had 10 points and four rebounds for the East. And Pitt’s Talib Zanna, a Bishop McNamara graduate, scored eight while leading the East with 11 rebounds.

Like typical all-star games, the premium was on offense.

But Turgeon approached both the preparation and game seriously, nonetheless, working hard with his squad during their two practices. It showed.

The East shot 49 percent from the field and finished with 19 assists on 35 baskets while holding Dawkins’s West to 31.3 percent shooting.

“He got on me a lot,” Starks said of Turgeon, making clear he appreciated the Maryland coach’s critique of his passes and shot selection. “I told him I wanted him to get on me. Every experience is a learning experience. Getting to learn from him and see the game how he sees it — that was big for me.”

Said Turgeon: “It’s hard for me not to coach. I had a great group. They were very easy to coach and they cared about each other, and you could tell by the way they played. They played together.”

Liz Clarke currently covers the Washington Redskins for The Washington Post, she has also covered five Olympic Games, two World Cups and written extensively about college sports, tennis and auto racing.
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