🎙 The Jayhawker Podcast | Mark Turgeon
Episode 17: Mark Turgeon | April 30, 2020
When Mark Turgeon recalls his time at Kansas, it’s easy to see that Mt. Oread and the Jayhawk basketball program hold a special place in his memories.
“I think people knew that, in my heart, it was a love affair between me and Kansas when I was there,” Turgeon said.
In the latest edition of The Jayhawker, Turgeon, one of the great native Kansans to suit up for KU basketball, both on the court and on the sidelines, joined the podcast for a conversation that covered a wide range of topics, but especially it’s the respect and admiration he still has for KU that resonates above all else. Just having concluded his ninth season as the head coach at Maryland, Turgeon talks on his time growing up in nearby Topeka, his lessons learned playing and coaching under Jayhawk greats such as Larry Brown and Roy Williams, and how his experiences at Kansas helped shaped who he is today.
From a brutally honest conversation with Brown that may have changed the trajectory of his career, to his recollections of a graduate assistant coach Bill Self in 1986, some of his life’s fondest and most important moments are covered in this week’s episode.
Spending nine years at Kansas as both a player and coach from 1983-92, Turgeon experienced some great moments in Jayhawk history, and takes you through how those instances shaped him as he began his career in collegiate basketball. He gives insights on the 1986 Final Four squad – which he considers to be one of the best in school history, an up-and-down 1988 season that culminated in an NCAA Championship, and the first season working under a relatively unknown coach named Roy Williams.
Find out which of these seasons Turgeon described as, “The greatest year of my life.”
Now with a winning percentage of 63.8% in 22 seasons as a head coach, Turgeon speaks to the incredible basketball minds he had the privilege to learn under while in Lawrence. Head coaches Larry Brown and Roy Williams, assistants with bright futures in the NBA such as Alvin Gentry and R.C. Buford, as well as up-and-coming coaches named John Calipari and Bill Self. Even Greg Popovich spent time with the Jayhawks and helped mold a young Turgeon.
“I knew how to compete as a player, but I didn’t know how to compete as a coach. I think he taught me that.” Hear which of these greats Turgeon attributed to help his mindset evolve into that of a coach.
Turgeon earned his first head coaching gig at Jacksonville State in 1998, and it was anything but a perfect debut season for the young coach. After a 3-1 start to his tenure, the Gamecocks finished his first season at 8-18, prompting a call to another young coach who had recently come off a difficult start to his own career as a head coach, Bill Self, who had just completed an impressive turnaround at Oral Roberts. He talks on that conversation and how he, like Self, turned Jacksonville State into a winner the very next season.
With successful stops at Wichita State, Texas A&M and now Maryland, Turgeon discusses the brand of basketball he has established over his career and how it has continuously evolved over two-plus decades on the sidelines. Some things have stayed constant though, and those are the principles he learned in Lawrence.
“It’s just the Roy Williams and Larry Brown influence in me, I like to think my teams are going to share ball,” Turgeon says. “What I want people to see when they watch my teams play is a team that really cares about each other and loves each other. I think my most successful teams are the ones that play that way and play for each other.”
Turgeon’s time at Kansas has no doubt made an indelible mark on who he has become as a man and a coach. He will be forever grateful for the contributions he was able to make to the program, the University and the state. The episode concludes with what he hopes Jayhawk fans remember him for, and what he wants his legacy to be for his time at KU.
“I hope that fans just look at me as a guy who loved KU and loved to be a part of it.”
All that and more in the latest edition of The Jayhawker Podcast.