Though the buzz about Wednesday night's Maryland-Duke game at Comcast Center is noticeably lacking compared to other years, Mark Turgeonpointed to the row of cameras he faced Tuesday as a symbol that the interest in still there.
Turgeon said that he was aware of the rivalry while coaching in other parts of the country, but never really watched the games or followed the outcome more than to hear a score occasionally.
"A rivalry is a rivalry and it’s more important to the people involved," Turgeon said. "Now for me this is the most important rivalry that there is because it means the most to me."
The only thing Turgeon has to compare it to was the Texas-Texas A&M game in College Station the past four years.
"Unfortunately the only game that mattered all year was the Texas game," he said. "It shouldn’t be that way, but that’s the way it is. I don’t think our fans think this is the only game that matters, but it’s certainly the most important to them. I’m looking forward to it. I hope we react the right way. It’s hard to play in front of a sellout when you haven’t all year. I know it’s going to help us more than it’s going to hurt us."
Turgeon said that one of his biggest concerns was his young team "shooting too quick" but admits that's a problem he has been faced with all season.
That his first Maryland-Duke game comes on the same night the court at Comcast Center will be named after longtime coach Gary Williams will only add to the atmosphere. Turgeon said that he is appreciative of the fact that Williams has been so supportive of him since the day he was hired last May, less than a week after Williams suddenly announced his retirement.
"This is Gary’s home," Turgeon said. "He went to college here, he’s been here for 22 years. I think my transition has been smooth because of the way that he’s handled it. I appreciate it. We had a great dinner and appreciation for him last night and I was so happy to be invited and be apart of it. He’s a special guy and a helluva coach. I don’t think there’s any question that he’s on my side. You always worry about that when you take a job. But he’s gone above and beyond to let people know, people that really matter to our program, that he thinks I’m the right guy for this job and that’s really helped."