Maryland's Mark Turgeon likes to think big

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Cheers and Jeers,Sports,College,Kevin Dunleavy

When Mark Turgeon took over for Billy Gillispie at Texas A&M five years ago, he was good to go. With 6-foot-11 incoming freshman DeAndre Jordan joining 6-10 Chinemelu Elonu, 6-9 Joseph Jones and 6-7 Josh Carter, the Aggies were a rugged, frontcourt-oriented team that went 25-11.

When he took over at Maryland last year, Turgeon had few such pieces. But in year two in College Park, Turgeon has assembled a team that has some of the signatures of that first group at Texas A&M. Players such as 7-1 Alex Len, 6-9 Shaquille Cleare and 6-8 Charles Mitchell have joined 6-8 holdover James Padgett, giving Maryland a physical presence in the frontcourt.

"I think this team scores a little bit easier than any team I had at A&M," Turgeon said. "My first team at A&M was really talented. I was just a new coach, fought them every day. This team has talent. That team was a little bit older, more experienced."

The Terps' strengths are similar to those of the 2007-08 Aggies, who limited opponents to 39.5 percent field goal shooting and had a rebound margin of plus-7.1 per game and an assist percentage of .535.

Entering Wednesday's game against Monmouth, Maryland's numbers were superior -- 35.4 percent shooting against, plus-15.2 rebounding margin and .684 assist percentage. But those will change as the schedule gets tougher in January and February. Don't be surprised if they gravitate to the Aggies' standard -- along with the win total.

"We're so young and it's really early, so it's hard to tell where we are," Turgeon said. "I think that question's better answered at the end of the year."

- Kevin Dunleavy

kdunleavy@washingtonexaminer.com

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