There were probably some ecstatic exclamations as Mount Saint Joseph senior star Jalen Smith committed and proceeded to blow up. And there were probably some frustrated flare-ups when his alma mater, just 17 months after knocking the Terps out of the NCAA tournament, went and nabbed a surprise pledge from a top recruit many thought was College Park-bound.
Fortunately, there’s Justin Hunsinger. The Gaithersburg native is a Special Olympics athlete and big Terps fan who’s worked out at team-sponsored clinics. For the latest edition of the “Brave In The Attempt Maryland” podcast, Hunsinger fulfilled a “dream” of interviewing Turgeon. (The exact timing of their talk is unclear, but it seems to have been recorded in June.)
Among the revelations is an aspiration of Turgeon’s: making Maryland the premier destination for point guards, the position he played at Kansas. Arizona is the unofficial “Point Guard U,” owing to its lineage of late-20th-century studs like Steve Kerr and Damon Stoudamire, but Turgeon has his sights set.
“I imagine it’s probably hard at times to play for me, being a point guard,” he said. “God blessed me with being able to see a lot of things on the floor, so it could be hard on my guys at times, but I think that I’ve always had a good point guard. I’ve always made our point guards better.
“And I really want to make Maryland Point Guard U, starting with Melo and now Anthony Cowan and then hopefully the next one that comes along is going to be a great one like those two are and we can start calling this Point Guard University.”
More from Turgeon ...
On his “dream goal” as a coach: “As a coach, you’re always crazy, so your ultimate goal is to win a national championship, and that’s obviously really hard to do. But as I’ve gotten older, gotten a few gray hairs, Justin, and a few wrinkles, I really try to enjoy the journey. So I try to enjoy every day, enjoy the players that I have. I’ve always surrounded myself with good people and good-character guys, so every day’s fun. The job can get a little tough at times, but I really try to enjoy the journey.
“And then I think, as a coach, it’s my responsibility to get as much out of each player as I possibly can, both academically, socially and basketball-wise, and that’s really kind of how I live every day.”
On his nonconference-schedule philosophy: “I think we try to play a pretty good schedule every year. Now, we’re locked into the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. This year, we have Syracuse. And then we’re in the [Gavitt Tipoff Games], so we have Butler this year, who’s a Top 25 team, so we have a lot going on there. I think the better schedule you can play, it helps you.
“Now the Big Ten is talking about going to a 20-game league schedule. That’d be tough, so it’d make nonconference scheduling a little bit different. You’ve got to really make sure your players’ welfare and health is intact. But I think anytime you can play a good nonconference schedule, it gets you ready for the league.”
On the future of the series with Georgetown: “It was fun, wasn’t it? And whenever you win, it’s fun. I’m sure it wasn’t quite as fun for Georgetown as it was for us, but it was a great series. Our home game was a tremendous crowd, and then to go over there and have that comeback win was a lot of fun.
“So they have a new coach, Patrick Ewing. The good thing is, if we play each other, I don’t have to guard him, so that helps. But I think it’s something Pat and I will talk about. It’s not on the schedule for this upcoming year, but I think it’s something Pat and I will talk about in the future.
On the program’s relationship with Special Olympics: “I’ve always loved Special Olympics. It’s something I did with Coach [Larry] Brown at Kansas, and I love it. I wish we could do 15 clinics a year and you guys could come to every game, but the joy I get out of it is the smiles on not only the Special Olympians’ faces but my players’ faces.
“Like you’re intimidated when you walk in — my guys are intimidated that they’re not going to be able to coach you very well, and so they’re nervous, too. About five minutes into the clinic, they’re all real excited, so it’s become something that we really look forward to every year. It’s one of the best days of the season for us, and we’re just glad we were able to do it and have fun while we were doing it.”