Turgeon to reconsider playing in it in future
The sudden departures two weeks apart of Gary Williams and Jim Larranaga, beloved coaches who had taken their respective schools to the NCAA Final Four, ramped up the pressure on their successors.
But in their second seasons, Maryland's Mark Turgeon and George Mason's Paul Hewitt have put their programs on solid ground, with expectations high for both to return to the NCAA tournament. When they meet Sunday in the BB&T Classic, Maryland (5-1) and George Mason (5-2) play a game that could ultimately decide their postseason fate.
"We know what we're getting into Sunday," Turgeon said. "We know for George Mason this is a huge game for them. I don't know what I was thinking when I scheduled it. But I'm glad we did because they're a really good basketball team that's gonna help us when we get to the NCAA tournament."
|Maryland vs. George Mason|
|When » Sunday, 2:30 p.m.|
|Where » Verizon Center|
|TV » MASN|
Scheduling was a hot topic Saturday as Turgeon addressed the Terrapins' future in the BB&T. Maryland and George Washington have participated every year since it was established in 1995. The Terps' agreement expires this year.
"I almost got through this, didn't I?" Turgeon joked when asked about the BB&T. "I'm gonna sit down with everyone concerned and decide if this is the best thing for us. A lot of it will determine what kind of crowd we have tomorrow."
After 16,389 showed up for Maryland's BB&T game with Villanova in 2009, attractive matchups with Temple (10,227) and Notre Dame (10,714) have drawn disappointing crowds. With the event annually held on a Sunday, competing with the NFL in December has been difficult.
In addition, in order to attract quality teams, Maryland has had to agree to play the opponent on its home floor, an arrangement that Turgeon dislikes. This year, he refused a return game to Notre Dame, and GW took Maryland's place with a game in South Bend on Nov. 21. Drawing a quality opponent without the promise of a return game is difficult.
"I want to dictate my games. That's just me," Turgeon said. "I gotta do what's best for Maryland basketball in the end. If it takes a few bad articles to do that, I'll do it."
Turgeon said he would like to set up games like the Terps' opener this year against Kentucky in the new Barclays Center, which drew 17,732.
"Even though we lost, it was fun," Turgeon said. "It was a great environment, and if [the BB&T] isn't going to give us that and we can get it somewhere else, you hear what I'm saying?"
Considering the challenging opponent, however, Turgeon is happy to be in the BB&T this year. He just wishes he had scheduled a few more such games.
"My thing is we've won one game. We're 1-1," Turgeon said. "We've beat some teams we should have beat at home. We haven't done much yet."
Turgeon said that when he was setting up games last year, he didn't know he would have players such as Dez Wells, Logan Aronhalt and Charles Mitchell.
"I really like my job, so when we were scheduling last year, I was trying to keep it," Turgeon said. "I had no idea we'd be this talented."