Though college basketball recruiting is in a so-called “dead period” and won’t resume until July, Maryland men’s basketball Coach Mark Turgeon says he hasn’t given up on adding a big man to the roster before the 2011-12 season gets under way.
“We’ve got a lot of playing time to sell,” Turgeon said in a conference call Tuesday, alluding to the thin front court he inherited from Gary Williams, who retired after 22 seasons earlier this month.
Since taking over May 10, Turgeon has thrown his energies into shoring up commitments from Terrapins recruits and trolling the region for prospective players, with particular emphasis on height and heft.
“Of course we’d like to add a piece, but it’s got to be the right piece,” Turgeon said. “I’m not going to add a stiff just to add a stiff. I want to add a basketball player who’s going to help us win games…. It’s obvious we need a player with length to help us compete in the ACC next year. When you get the job in the middle of May, it’s tough to add that piece.”
Had Williams returned for a 23rd season, he would have faced the same challenge, given the decision by the Terps’ leading and rebounder, Jordan Williams, to leave for the NBA after his sophomore year. The Terps lost their other front-court stalwart, senior Dino Gregory, to graduation.
Williams’s unexpected retirement cost the Terps two of their three recruits for next season — guard Sterling Gibbs, now bound for Texas, and forward Martin Breunig. And it nearly cost the Terps a third recruit, 6-foot-6 shooting guard Nick Faust, according to Turgeon, until the coach had the chance to make an impassioned case for Faust staying in a phone conversation with his mother.
“She said, ‘We just don’t trust anyone right now. Coach Williams said he was going to be there two or three more years,’” Turgeon said, recounting the call from Faust’s mother, who was seeking her son’s release.
Turgeon replied, “If Nick doesn’t come to Maryland, I won’t be here two or three more years!”
It was a significant offseason victory. And it came as the result of one of the 100 to 120 calls Turgeon estimates he has made in the past two weeks as he works his way through a list of area high school coaches, parents, former Maryland players, alumni and supporters that he intends to contact this summer.
The goal is to introduce himself to anyone and everyone who can help Maryland basketball, to stress his eagerness to work with them and to welcome former players back to College Park to support their team.
“There are a lot of people in this area that really want Maryland basketball to be the best,” Turgeon said.
Regardless of whether any of that networking produces a 10th scholarship player to bolster the front court this season, Turgeon says he’s prepared to construct a game plan that suit the Terps’ strengths, however limited they may be.
“Our guard play should be fantastic,” Turgeon said, citing returning players Terrell Stoglin, Pe’Shon Howard (both of whom he recruited while at Texas A&M), Sean Mosley and Faust. Turgeon said he has also gotten great reports on Mychal Parker and Haukur Palsson.
Then there is the Terps’ front court, largely reliant on the relatively inexperienced
7-0 6-10 center Berend Weijs and 6-8 forward James Padgett.
“Our weakness is just a lack of depth,” Turgeon said. “We’re an injury or two away from being a very, very thin basketball team.”