- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Mark Turgeon’s first six weeks as Maryland’s basketball coach were filled with building a staff, speaking with more than 30 former players and getting to know the roster he inherited in College Park.

What he has yet to encounter are surprises.

As is usually the case, it’s a good development for the former Texas A&M coach who took over for the retired Gary Williams last month. Talk of next season with players is scarce — the Terrapins’ staff can’t work with them in the gym until August, anyway — yet thoughts of it will surface soon enough.

“There’s going to be a lot of things when we sit down a year from now that we’re going to look back on and say ‘We’ve done a really nice job in these areas, we haven’t done as good a job in these areas,’ ” Turgeon said in his Comcast Center office this week. “We’ll define success in a lot of different ways next year.”

Maryland’s victory total will be one, but not the lone, factor in such assessments. It’s understandable, especially when considering the Terps’ depth and experience (or lack thereof). Turgeon will proceed with nine scholarship players who own a combined 102 career starts, with senior guard Sean Mosley accounting for 76.

Turgeon said Maryland’s overall roster is at 11 with walk-on forwards John Auslander and Spencer Barks, though he’s hopeful the Terps will add four more walk-ons before the season.

And while Turgeon hasn’t settled on how his first team will look, it isn’t a stretch to anticipate small lineups given the available options.

“I think looking at the roster, if you consider Hauk [Palsson] a guard, yeah, we’ll be playing some four-guard offense,” Turgeon said. “There will be games where we’re in foul trouble and all that, but I can see us spreading the floor. It’s whether we can match up well enough at the other end and what we’re going to do at the other end. I’m going to play the best players.”

Ultimately, Turgeon knows he’ll need some size, since the Terps’ obvious concern is they enjoy virtually no certainty in the frontcourt.

James Padgett averaged 3.2 points his first two seasons and has never played more than 15 minutes against a conference opponent. Senior-to-be Berend Weijs, at 6-foot-10 the Terps’ tallest player, logged 23 minutes in Maryland’s last 17 games this past year. Redshirt freshman Ashton Pankey is coming off leg surgery.

“Really, we have three guys who can play center for us — Pankey, Padgett and Berend,” Turgeon said. “It’s what we’ve got and what we’re going to go with. All three of them are going to have to have good years for us to be successful.”

Again, it swings back to that basic concept, which can be measured in so many ways. Turgeon’s emphasis is on the foundational, the sort of tenets certain to stay in place for an extended period.

“How well they accept coaching, how well they accept our system is how I’m going to define success [this season],” Turgeon said. “How hard we get them to play, how well we get them to play together is how I’m going to define success. Ultimately, you get judged on winning and losing. I’m going to judge us on how we compete and how we do on those nights.”

Of course, the next year is merely the short term. Turgeon has recruits to add, alums to connect with and a philosophy to implement. That goes beyond two games this season with Duke and North Carolina, beyond what is in place for now.

Someday, those surprises Turgeon has yet to encounter might surface. By then, he’s optimistic the Terps will again settle in as an annual presence in national discussions.

“I’ve said it a hundred times since I’ve been here, five hundred times, whatever: We’re not trying to be Duke. We’re not trying to be Carolina. We’re just going to be Maryland,” Turgeon said. “We’re going to do our job. Maryland’s a great place and if we just do our job and things click and get lucky, we’re going to be playing at a high level.”