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Monday, January 19, 2009

Well, well, look who’s back

Ex-Jayhawk Turgeon returns to Allen — as foe

Texas A&M head coach Mark Turgeon directs his defense as the bench watches the final minutes of play Saturday, March 15, 2008 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.

Texas A&M head coach Mark Turgeon directs his defense as the bench watches the final minutes of play Saturday, March 15, 2008 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.

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Texas A&M coach Mark Turgeon directs his defense as the bench watches the final minutes of a Big 12 semifinal loss to Kansas.

Mark Turgeon has been a Kansas University basketball fan for as long as he can remember.

“When I was a little kid, I’d drive to games with my dad. I couldn’t wait to see the fieldhouse, the lights shining on it as we pulled up,” recalled Turgeon, Texas A&M;’s second-year basketball coach who was born and raised in Topeka.

“It’s such a special place. I love that place,” added Turgeon, who fulfilled all his childhood dreams by earning a scholarship to KU and playing four glorious years for the Jayhawks in Allen Fieldhouse.

Tonight, the former KU point guard and staff member of Hall of Famers Larry Brown and Roy Williams returns to sit on the opposing bench in KU’s tradition-rich building for the first time.

Tipoff for a Big Monday matchup between the Jayhawks (13-4, 2-0) and Turgeon’s Texas A&M; Aggies (15-3, 1-2) is 8 p.m., with a live telecast on ESPN (Sunflower Broadband channels 33 and 233).

The fieldhouse has changed little since Turgeon’s playing days from 1984 to ’87.

“A few more banners ... a few more seats,” the 43-year-old Turgeon said. “I have so many memories in there. All of them are good.”

He was willing to share a few.

First, as a player:

“I had fun my freshman year. I got to start and play a lot (after leading Topeka Hayden to 41-1 record and state titles his junior and senior years),” he said.

“We’d been off the map a couple years, and it was fun for me to be a part of helping bring it back,” added the 5-foot-11 Turgeon, who helped Brown’s first KU team to a 22-10 record following a disappointing 13-16 mark in Ted Owens’ final season (1982-83).

“I remember the Final Four year — we had such a good team in ’86,” Turgeon added of Brown’s 35-4 squad that fell to Duke in the national semifinals in Dallas.

“Growing up a KU fan and being a part of the Final Four was beyond my wildest dreams. All the big games … when I played, it was the Oklahoma games, Missouri.

“My best memories are of my teammates: Danny (Manning), Calvin (Thompson), Ronnie (Kellogg), Ced (Hunter), Pipe (Chris Piper) ... all of them, what we went through, how much fun it was and the great fan support.”

His top moment as an assistant coach?

“I’d have to say the Kentucky game when we got them, 150-95. We scored so many points,” Turgeon said of a nonconference game in the 1989-90 season when he served as an assistant on Williams’ Jayhawk coaching staff.

“It’s always loud. That day was the loudest I’ve ever heard it in the fieldhouse. They (Wildcats) owned us for all those years. It was a game Kansas fans wanted to win so bad.”

All about winning, floor general Turgeon was part of 108 victories and 33 losses. Coach Brown so liked him, he immediately added him to his staff in ’87-88.

Turgeon’s reward? Being a part of the magical 1987-88 national title run. He reached another Final Four as a Williams aide in 1990-91, when KU fell to Duke in the NCAA title game.

Since joining Jerry Green’s Oregon staff (1991-92), Turgeon also has been head coach at Jacksonville (Ala.) State, Wichita State and now Texas A&M.;

For him, it all started in Lawrence, where he’ll be leading the Aggies tonight.

“I’ve not thought about it,” Turgeon said of possible emotions during pregame introductions. “At that time, I’m so nervous, focused. The most nerve-wracking time is right before the game. It is when you get the team ready to play.

“I’ll say this ... nobody makes me feel more special than Kansas fans. Wherever I go, whether it’s the Final Four when KU is in it or the Big 12 tournament, they make you feel so special.”

Turgeon has coached against KU twice.

The Jayhawks downed his Aggies, 72-55, last March 8 in College Station, Texas, and again, 77-71, on March 15 in the Big 12 tournament in Kansas City, Mo.

“Last year was weird. When I walked out the first time and saw the red and blue, I said, ‘Oh, man.’ I didn’t want to do it,” Turgeon said of coaching against his alma mater.

“They whipped us pretty good. The Big 12 tournament was no problem at all. I don’t think it will be this time,” added Turgeon, now used to the feeling of trying to defeat KU.

“It’s Kansas — defending national champions. We’ll be fired up to play. I’ll be fired up coaching against one of the best coaches and schools.”

KU coach Bill Self, who worked as a KU graduate assistant in 1986, says he’s looking forward to seeing Turgeon.

“Everybody loves Turg around here,” Self said. “He was great for KU basketball in the time he was here. But I don’t think that (Turgeon’s return) will even come up in discussions with our guys (before game).

“I’ll be very concerned about Turg, but not near as concerned about him as the guys he has on the court. They’ve got a good team, good athletes.”

Among those good athletes are double-digit scorers Josh Carter, 13.4 ppg; Donald Sloan, 11.6; Bryan Davis, 10.6; and Chinemelu Elonu, 10.3.

Self knows full well Turgeon will be a big part of the storyline tonight. Back in 2003-04, the Oklahoma media made a huge deal out of former Oklahoma State player Self returning to coach against the Cowboys.

OSU clubbed his first KU team, 80-60.

“I tried to downplay it. It was a big deal to a lot of people. Obviously, I did such a great job motivating our guys that I had to call four timeouts by the first TV timeout,” Self said.

“It’s not a big deal for me, probably a bigger deal for Turg being the first time back in the building coaching somebody else.”

One of Turgeon’s former teammates — Mark Randall — wishes he could be at the game tonight.

He said Turgeon was one of the most likeable guys on the squad.

“I’m happy for Mark. He’s done it the way it’s supposed to be done, climbing the ranks,” Randall said of Turgeon steadily moving up. “It’s nice to see him blossom. He’s paid his dues and has reaped the benefits.

“I’m glad he has a job in the Big 12. It’s something he always wanted to do, coach in the Big 12.”

Turgeon admits that is true.

“You know what? Everybody assumed I want to be head coach at Kansas. That’s not really the case. I didn’t want to ruin what I have with the KU fans,” Turgeon said. “I want to coach at the highest level and have a chance to go to the Final Four and win the national championship. We can do it here.

“I like it here,” added Turgeon, whose first Aggie team went 25-11 overall and 1-1 in the NCAAs. “They (administration) have invested a lot of money. We have a $26 million (practice) facility dedicated Saturday. We are in a place we have good enough players where we can make a run for the Big 12 championship and Final Four. My family (wife Ann, children William Harris, Leo and Ella) really likes it here. We still are a work in progress.”

— Assistant sports editor Gary Bedore can be reached at 832-7186.

Comments

kansas22 11 years ago

Hopefully, coach Turgeon gets a loud, warm welcome back to Allen. Being from Wichita, I loved seeing him succeed at Wichita State and hope to see him continue his success with A&M... Just not against us. Welcome back coach!

yates33333 11 years ago

Turgeon always has reminded me a bit of Dean Smith. Of course, he was a better player than Smith and has yet to prove he is anywhere near Smith as a coach. He does seem to be a good coach, just not Smith's caliber yet. I think he kind of looks and acts like Smith on the bench. If you can have a mean and polite demeanor, that is. Think about it.

JBurtin 11 years ago

I think he's pretty similar to Smith in coaching talents as well. He just hasn't had very long to prove himself. It's kind of a tough comparison when you're comparing a guy to a legend that was at a major university for 40 years. What he did at Wichita State was pretty impressive considering the level of talent that you can recruit to a school like that. I think he'll do well at A&M and hopefully start to make his own legend.

Lance Hobson 11 years ago

A&M will end our home winning streak tonight. It will be upsetting, but at least the win goes to a class act and great Jayhawk like Mark Turgeon. He is a great coach, I used to love watching his WSU teams play.

Mark Winter 11 years ago

Get a grip. There is no way the Hawks are going to lose tonite. We will giveTurg his warm welcome and then beat the Aggies. If you are a Jayhawk reserveyour negative comments to yourself. ROOOOCK CHAAAALK JAYHAAAAWKS!

Matt Bowers 11 years ago

Strikewso, where did you get your information? To think of all the coaches around the country that are connected to Kansas and the success that they are having. It would be nice to see ESPN or Gary Bedore do a piece on that. The atmosphere tonight in the fieldhouse will be at a fever pitch. Looking forward to this game and KU getting on track with this young team. Expecting our triple threat of Collins, Cole, Taylor to continue to produce. Would also like to see some more monster dunks by the Morris twins and Taylor. They did a great job of getting above the rim against Colorado and started looking like a Coach Self team. Reed is doing a great job at coming off the bench for Morningstar or Taylor. His role seems to be to pick the team up in the second half and give them a shot in the arm. I believe that the Colorado game was the first game that really finished. We went up big and did not let up and that is something else that needs to continue.

kvskubball 11 years ago

mark...Strikewso is a great fan. He's just a little more realistic and less jingoist than most. You may not want to hear it, but this is going to be a tough game for us to win. The Aggies are a good team, and it is quite possible that we will lose. Our young team is going to find out how much they want it, because you know Turg wants it and his team is so much more experienced than ours. Unlike our first two Big XII games, we are facing a team that can really play. We will see how much our young team has grown and whether they are learning how to be poised.Elonu has improved a lot and Davis is a load, so post defense is going to be a rather large challenge for us. Sloan and Collins are both good guards. I'm excited about our first Big Monday game this year. We're fortunate that it is at home.I hope the Hawks will win, but this will be our toughest test so far in the Fieldhouse.Rock Chalk!!!

KUPROUD 11 years ago

Watch the turnover count. If we have in the range of 8 to 12 we win. If we have more than 15 we will likely lose. We have to start taking better care of the and not wasting so many scoring opportunities.I'm expecting the win and nice farewell to Turg.

JayCeph 11 years ago

Stop the lazy-lob passes. Ball control is key... I hope the 'Hawks come up with the win.

Kevin Millikan 11 years ago

Turgeon the 'Surgeon'...what a great Jayhawk..

JayhawkPhil64 11 years ago

Excellent point Kvskubball, I get tired of those fans who wet their pants everytime some other fan says anything the least bit critical of the team. You can be a KU fan and be critical as long as you make valid points . Having said all that, while I agree Turgeon is a good coach, I doubt we will lose this game. My take is that, in the league, we have four games that should be locks, four that we really can't expect to win, and eight that could go either way. This game is one of those eight. If we can win at least 6 of the eight(and I think we can) then I will be satisfied with our season, given our dependence on freshmen this year If we win all 8 plus at least one of the other four, I will be estatic. For the record my middle 8 areKSU at home(done), Texas A&M here, NU there, ISU there, Texas Tech there, Missouri Here and there, OSU. We have a chance to win all 8 but none are in the bag.My other four areBaylor, KSU & Oklahoma there and Texas here. It would be no embarrassment to lose all these but it would be great if we could at least beat KSU there(wouild love to resume beating the wildkittens in their home place). Losing to Colorado either here or there or to NU or ISU here on the other hand would be an embarrassment. All KU fans will be rooting for KU to win every game but I am trying to be a little realistic here.

JayhawkPhil64 11 years ago

By the way, one of favorite memories of Turgeon as a player was when we were playing the Russians in an exhibition game. On a fast break, Turgeon, at a skinny 5' 9", drove past a burly Russian who had to be at least 6'4". And, we won.

jaybate 11 years ago

yates33333,I think you nailed Turg. I've never thought of him like Smith, because I never saw Smith coach when he was young. But being Larry's and Roy's disciples, two guys Smith imprinted heavily, well, sometimes the gene skips a generation before it produces the spitting image of grand pa and Dean is certainly the grand pa in this case. I've always thought Turg's career followed a path similar to Self's, though a bit slower. Learned from some of the best as an assistant. Went to a low major, then mid major, then now a major conference team, and he will have one more stop, if he can take TA&M far, to one of the elite programs. Gotta be lucky though. Got to have one of his big years with the Aggies, when a coaching slot at one of the elite programs opens up; that doesn't happen often.What I look forward to the most today is watching Oakie Ball vs. Dean Ball. These two styles of play have their differences and it is always fascinating to see which one gets the upper hand. Both styles of play have soooooooo much philosophy and thought and development underpinning each that some times the team with the best players doesn't win even when they play well. Sometimes the strategies themselves come into conflict and determine the outcomes to a greater extent than in many other games.One thing for sure. The Oakie Ball mafia and Dean's disciples are going to be at their TV sets tonight all over the country. As was the UNC game in the Finals last year, this is yet another chance to see and learn from the two styles of play, and get some bragging rights over how the game ought to be played.The Kansas Way, I say, since they both are part of the Kansas legacy now.

sevenyearhawk 11 years ago

A friend of mine (and another KUSports.com member) made this and snuck it into Reed Arena last year ... I think it really says it all:http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3413/3...

Brad Farha 11 years ago

Jaybate,just want to say thanks to you for your postings. I love the Jayhawks, and consider myself to be moderately knowledgeable about basketball. But, I learn so much from your comments about the players and the game. Thank you, and Rock Chalk Jayhawk KU!

jaybate 11 years ago

Rockn_Chalkn_KU ,Thank you very much.

jaybate 11 years ago

sevenyearhawk,The sign made me laugh out loud, so its funny and has some truth, but...Being the hand wringer I am, I worry a little about this sort of thing. We're the Daddy. There are certain things that the elite offspring of the Daddy, like UNC and UK, get to do, that we do not...like be arrogant. The Daddy always has to do what's best for the offspring and extended family, as well as for himself and the immediate family. Sometimes the Daddy needs a good laugh. But was this sign what was best for Turg and aTm? They are both off spring now. aTm has now had two straight coaches that have significant ties to KU basketball. Billy G through having been a Self assistant at Tulsa and Illinois, and Turg for what the story makes clear. aTm is in the family now, whether they know it or not, or accept it or not. For the legacy to live on, we have to do what's best for the legacy. Its one thing to assert daddy-hood, but its another to slight the off spring. Turg and aTm doing well is important for the legacy. Yes we must beat them whenever we play them. Yes, we're the daddy. But the off spring need nurturing, when we're not beating them. :-) Now vs. KSU, or MU, this sign would have been MOST appropriate, were there coaches there that expressed affection for us.But yes, it gave me a heck of a good laugh today, as I wind down the most productive cough in the history of Western Civilization. :-)

Tony Bandle 11 years ago

Jaybate...forget the cough, keep taking your meds... your posts were never better!!!!!Strikewso is simply voicing an opinion most of us KU fans feel down deep for every game. This team is capable of running the table or losing to anyone on any given night.JayhawkPhil64 I think you better add that Missouri game at Columbia to your list as a real challenge. Even the Tigers crappiest teams, play the game against us in Columbia as if their lunch money for the next year is at stake!!!sevenyearjayhawk, if I remember right, even Mark got a kick out of that sign though he couldn't show it!!JayCeph..thank you....did you see some of those pases against the Colorado zone!!??...they looked like volley ball set-ups!!KUPROUD..you have the right idea but you must take into account turnovers forced as well. With this team it's more the TO doifferential as opposed to the TO totals..typical for a young teamYates33333..reminding us of Dean Smith..is that a good thing or a bad thing??

Brad Farha 11 years ago

Looking at how Mizzou annihilated Colorado and Iowa State, I'm glad we have 3 weeks before we play at Paige Sports Arena, I mean USC Trojan Graduate Arena, no wait, I mean Mizzou Arena. In all seriousness, they have dominated teams they should dominate, and I expect they'll bring that aggressive play when they face us. Our freshman/sophomores will have a tough time there, but it will be a good test for them. If our young guards can handle Mike Anderson's 40 Minutes of He**, I think it bodes well for the future.

Greg Lux 11 years ago

Mark Turgeon is one of my all time favorate KU players .. he like Chris Piper was the type of player who left it all on the court... He was not the most talented, the best shooter, the quickest with the ball, but you knew he was on the court because he was giving 110% every minute he was in the game... He loved and loves KU basketball and we love him for what he gave to KU. I hope he wins all his games except those against KU .. Hes is truely 100% Crimson and Blue Blooded. This has to be a hard night for him and a Great homecoming also .. We won't be beating Turgeon tonight just the team he's coaching .. you can't beat Turgeon hes a winner in my book and always will be... Rock Chalk

kvskubball 11 years ago

JayCeph,I agree about the lazy-lob passes (As you called them). It's terrible to see a junior guard, among others, lolly-popping the ball across court. No zip, no pop, no nothing. Against better teams those passes are picked off and easy lay-ups or dunks the other way!These kind of passes and the inability to feed the post, when the post player has good position makes me appreciate how well last year's guards played. Thanks again Russ and Mario!The good thing is that these short-comings can be corrected. Now lets go win a ballgame!

yates33333 11 years ago

OakvilleJHawk . Do you think Roy would have won a national championship with last year's team? This was Self's team, the one Roy won with when he went to UNC was recruited by Matt Doherty. So I think we are better off with Self. In my opinion Self is a better floor coach and perhaps as good a recruiter as Williams, who has it easier at UNC because UNC is always being hyped by sportwriters and ESPN. Unknowingly, Williams did us a favor. Oh, I don't think Roy would have won the national championship at KU last year.Whether you like Smith or not he was a winner. I believe he is second only to Bobby Knight in victories among major colleges. I may be wrong. I really only pay much attention to KU. Anyway Smith was as someone said a legendary coach.

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