- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Mark Turgeon is two weeks removed from taking over Maryland’s basketball program.

He has hired his assistants. He has retained strength and conditioning coach Paul Ricci. And he has probably finalized his first roster.

It just isn’t very deep.

Turgeon said during a teleconference Tuesday that the Terrapins might not add to their roster before the start of next season. Maryland has nine scholarship players for 2011-12 after guard Nick Faust kept his commitment after Gary Williams’ retirement and Sterling Gibbs (Texas) and Martin Breunig (undecided) were released from their letters of intent.

“That’s the million-dollar question,” Turgeon said. “We’d like to add a piece, but it has to be the right piece. I’m not going to add a stiff to add a stiff. We’re going to be very selective. It’s obvious we need a player with length to compete in the ACC next year. If you get the job in the middle of May, it’s tough to add that piece. We’ll see. We’ve got a lot of things going on. If we can, we will add someone. If not, we’ll save the scholarship for 2012.”

Barring an addition or any attrition on the current roster, Turgeon will have up to six scholarships to use for his first recruiting class.

Perhaps the most notable development since his arrival was convincing Faust to stick with Maryland. The Baltimore native was heavily recruited by assistant Bino Ranson, who Turgeon retained from Williams’ final staff.

Turgeon said a 25-minute conversation with Faust’s mother, Lisa, when she asked for a release was one of his most important discussions in a while.

“She told me ‘We don’t trust anyone right now. Coach Williams said he was going to be there two or three more years, so we don’t trust anybody,’ ” Turgeon recounted. “I said ‘If Nick doesn’t come, I won’t be here in two or three more years.’ Nick knows how important he is.”

So, too, is replenishing the program’s depth. While Turgeon was considering whether to take the job, he said Williams told him the roster needed upgrading. Turgeon already has secured his first oral commitment from Seth Allen of Fredericksburg (Va.) Christian.

Meanwhile former pledge Justin Anderson has since visited Virginia, according to multiple published reports.

“We lost a few recruits,” Turgeon said. “The only bump in the road so far is people not giving me a chance to recruit them. That’s part of the game, and I understand that.”

Regardless of the vagaries of recruiting, Turgeon still must coach a season with what he acknowledges is a depth-challenged team. The greatest concern will be in the frontcourt, where forward James Padgett and center Berend Weijs played sparingly in conference games last season. Redshirt freshman forward Ashton Pankey, who missed all but one game last year, will resume full workouts June 1.

It leaves Maryland vulnerable to injury next season. Yet Turgeon’s initial impressions of the roster he inherits remain positive.

“You don’t want to be taking over a program short on scholarship players and have a bunch of guys you don’t want to be around,” Turgeon said. “I felt good about the character of the young men we’re coaching. That gives you a chance.”

• Patrick Stevens can be reached at pstevens@washingtontimes.com.

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