One of the first trips Mark Turgeon made after succeeding Gary Williams at Maryland was to Baltimore.
Not only did Turgeon have to make sure Nick Faust, then a senior at City, was still coming to College Park, but Maryland's new coach also wanted the city's political and basketball powerbrokers to get to know the relative unknown who had spent little time on the East Coast.
A little more than two years later, Baltimore remains a priority for Turgeon in terms of his program's fans and future players.
"Recruiting is huge, the fan base is huge," Turgeon said Wednesday night, aboard the Spirit of Baltmore as it sailed around the Inner Harbor as part of the Maryland athletic department's Coaches Caravan. "I went to an Orioles game the other night; I couldn't believe all the Terps fans there.
"This is a really important area for us. Whenever we can get over to the Baltimore ... we have to do it. Nothing's changed since I took the job. Every year it's is still going to produce some of the best players in the country. We're not going to always going to get the top, top ones, but we've got to keep them home. That's why we took the job."
Turgeon said he has not yet been able to strike a deal to play a game at 1st Mariner Arena. While there have been discussions with a couple of the local Division I teams — including Loyola — the Terps haven't been able to make it work.
"We tried," Turgeon said. "I don't see us playing up here in the foreseeable future. We looked into the [arena] and we just didn't think it was condusive to what we were trying to do. It's something we really tried hard our first year, we tried to get a promoter, it just didn't work out. To be honest, I just don't see it happening."
Turgeon disclosed Wednesday that the Terps will play a Baltimore team for the first time since he took the job. Maryland is scheduled to face Morgan State at Comcast Center the night after Thanksgiving. The Terps could also meet the Bears if they both wind up in the loser's bracket at the Paradise Jam tournament in the Virgin Islands the previous week.
"They're going to be pretty good," Turgeon said of Morgan State.
Turgeon, who brought Faust with him Wednesday, nearly had another local player on his roster, former Lake Clifton standout Antonio Barton. But Barton, who left Memphis after three years, chose to transfer to Tennessee over the Terps because he saw more of an opportunity to play point guard there than he did in College Park.
In accordance with NCAA rules, Turgeon declined to talk about the recruitment of Barton. But the third-year Maryland coach made it clear that the Terps' interest in adding another player didn't have as much to do with a lack of confidence in his current roster as it was protection against injuries.
Turgeon said that he is "really comfortable" with rising sophomore Seth Allen and incoming freshman Roddy Peters of Suitland playing a majority of the minutes at point guard next season.
"Late in the year, before he broke his hand, Seth was really starting playing some good point for us. I think Roddy is going to be an exceptional point for us," Turgeon said. "Dez [Wells] can play a little point for us, but I think those two are going to be able to handle it."
Though the Terps stayed relatively injury-free last season, Allen's broken hand impacted Maryland's performance in its season-ending loss to Iowa in the semifinals of the National Invitation Tournament at Madison Square Garden.
"We're not going to sign a player just to sign a player. We're going to sign the right player," Turgeon said. "I'm banking a lot on our future recruiting. I'm banking a lot on the nine [scholarship] guys we have.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun