Turgeon introduced as Texas A&M coach

4-10-07 -- Mark Turgeon was introduced as Texas A&M's basketball coach Tuesday, five days after Billy Gillispie left for Kentucky.

Turgeon comes to Texas A&M from Wichita State, where he led the Shockers to a 17-14 record last year, including 8-10 in the Missouri Valley Conference.

He was introduced at a news conference before being a pep rally style event at Reed Arena attended by about 2,000 A&M fans. The band played and fans whooped and hollered and some displayed signs that said things such as "Howdy" and "Welcome Turge, Gig Em."

"I felt like it was a great opportunity for me," Turgeon said at the news conference. "I was at a special place and a place that was very good to me and it was going to take a special place and a special man and a place where I knew we could be successful to leave."

Texas A&M athletic director Bill Byrne presented Turgeon with a maroon jacket before raving about his new coach.

"When we lost Billy last week we were very disappointed because he had worked so hard to take us to places we've never been at Texas A&M," Byrne said. "When he left our goal was to get somebody to continue to lead us there and take us beyond that. That's why we started looking at Mark."

In three seasons, Gillispie took the Aggies from an 0-16 Big 12 record to its first trip to the NCAA tournament round of 16 since 1980. Texas A&M finished with a school-record 27 wins and was ranked in the top 10 for most of the season.

Turgeon was 128-90 in seven seasons at Wichita State. He led the Shockers to three consecutive 20-plus win seasons from 2004-2006, culminating with a trip to the round of 16 in the 2006 NCAA tournament.

Turgeon met with players at Wichita State on Monday night after taking the Aggies job and he became emotional when discussing that meeting.

"It's hard and I'm here today because of those players and I told them that," he said, choking back tears. "I hope they're not as mad at me as they were last night."

His first head coaching job came at Jacksonville State, where he led the team to a 25-29 record from 1998-2000. Turgeon also served as an assistant coach at Kansas under Larry Brown and Roy Williams, and was an assistant at Oregon and with the Philadelphia 76ers.

Turgeon inherits a team that returns several starters, including 6-foot-9 Joseph Jones, top defender Dominique Kirk and three-point shooting ace Josh Carter. Promising freshman Donald Sloan and Bryan Davis, who both got significant playing time in 2007, will also be back.

All the returning members of the team were at the announcement and wore white T-shirts that had "Turgeon 2007" printed over a picture of a basketball goal.

"He wants to win. That's the main thing," Jones said. "Winning and taking good care of us, making us better young men. He wants to see us all succeed and to succeed as a team. So I have nothing but good first impressions of him."

Turgeon met with the team for a few minutes before the announcement.

The Aggies were eliminated by one point in the regional semifinals by Memphis in their second straight appearance in the tournament. It was their school-record third straight 20-win season and marked the first time Texas A&M had made back-to-back tournament appearances.