It’s been an emotional week for Maryland Coach Mark Turgeon, who rode the lows brought on by last Sunday’s loss to Virginia, all the way through his team’s heart-thumping win over second-ranked Duke at Comcast Center on Saturday night.
Never one to hurry into his postgame press conference, Turgeon took his sweet time, savoring the moment in the locker room with his sweaty, exhausted players, many of whom were swept up in the court-storming madness that ensued after Quinn Cook’s buzzer-beating attempt clanged off the rim.
Once Turgeon stepped to the lectern, his family filed in behind him. His wife, Ann. His two sons, Leo and Will. His daughter, Ella. Then they stood off to the side and watched Turgeon spill his heart.
“I’ll tell you what. It’s been a hard week,” Turgeon said, tears welling in his eyes, after he was asked what Maryland’s win means to him personally. “Excuse me … I take a lot of pride in my coaching. I don’t do a lot of things well, but I’d like to think I can coach a little bit. And I haven’t done a very good job.”
None will quibble with Turgeon’s coaching job against the Blue Devils and Coach Mike Krzyzewski. But evidently some took umbrage with the second-year coach during Sunday’s loss to the Cavaliers. Will, who’s 13 years old, was forced into an early exit.
“It’s been a hard week on my family,” Turgeon said. “It was hard on my son. Last week he had to leave the gym, because the fans were so hard on his dad. This was for them. I got a loyal family. Very loyal to me.”
Family has been a running theme for these Terrapins, who reinserted themselves back into the NCAA tournament discussion by upsetting the Blue Devils thanks to two late free throws from Seth Allen. With six newcomers and four freshmen, Maryland had quickly become a close-knit bunch, long before Saturday night, when a starved fan base rushed the court against a Tobacco Road team for the second time in one month.
“I wanted to beat Duke,” Turgeon continued. “I wanted to beat Duke. This means a lot to me. I talk about it in the summer: ‘God, if we beat Duke, I’m going to be in the student section. I’m going to be hanging out with the students.’ This game means a lot to me. It’s tough on the family, and I’m really happy for them. That’s why they’re in here tonight.”
Said Allen: “[Turgeon] had a smile on his face the whole time. Not only for coach. He wants it so much, and he told us for us to be successful, the players have to want it more than he does. Tonight, I feel like it was that way … or equal.”