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October 17, 2007

Mark Turgeon


PETER IRWIN: We're now joined by Coach Mark Turgeon. Welcome to our media day.
MARK TURGEON: Thank you. Just real quickly, I'm obviously excited about being in the Big 12. I had a great job and wasn't going to leave for any job. If I was going to move up, a so-called move up in our profession, I was going to hopefully do it in the Big 12. I'm excited about being at Texas A&M and looking forward to all the battles that lie ahead.

Q. Is it easier or is it more difficult taking over a program that's had success?
MARK TURGEON: Well, right now it's been easier because we have good players. And that was the whole reason that I took the job. So to this point it's been easier, but now that the season is starting and the polls are coming out and the expectations are really high in our program which is really good and what we want, but we did lose some really good players. We have some young players that had to step up. I think the thing about our program that we have to understand is we have nine freshmen and sophomores this year, and a lot of those young kids will play for us. We'll get better as the season goes on type thing. It's been a lot easier at this point knowing that the expectations may make it a little tougher over the next five or six months.

Q. Obviously everybody knows you've got some talent there, I think the two questions are how quickly Donald Sloan takes over that presence and how quickly DeAndre Jordan is able to assimilate himself at this level?
MARK TURGEON: I don't want everybody to assume that Donald Sloan is going to be our point guard, because he played back up point for about three seconds because Acie Law was never out of the game. Donald is going to play some point for us. Whether he's going to be our starting point guard or not has not been determined.
I've been impressed with him. Donald can score the ball. I want to put -- Dominique Kirk has done a tremendous job for us in practice. He has more the mindset to be my point guard. You also have B.J. Holmes, who is a highly thought of young man coming out of high school.
Sloan is going to play point, but he's also going to play some 2. And maybe as the year goes on he'll get better. Right now it's not his natural position, didn't play it in high school. He brought the ball up sometimes last year to get the ball to Acie in a different position on the floor. But he's a heck of a talent.
DeAndre Jordan, speaking of talents, is obviously a big time talent. And he can block shots. I spent a lot of years at the University of Kansas and we had had a lot of good players, and obviously Danny Manning being one of them. He has the most talent I've seen, but it's really raw talent. He's not skilled at the level he needs to be skilled, which he will be, for him to be successful all the time on the floor. And we've been working with him now for about six, seven weeks. He's come a long ways. He's come a long ways quickly. He's going to have a tremendous year for us and a great career. But people have to be patient with him out there and understand that he's been so highly talked of, it's the biggest recruit A&M has had in a long time. There's a lot of pressure on him. We want him to relax and get better. The best thing about DeAndre is a great kid, but he's a little young. He's 18 going on about 12 sometimes, so he wears me out with the text messaging at night and different things. He always wants to know what's going on. When he matures and starts maturing and stays like this, and not so emotional, he's going to be a heck of a player.

Q. Joe Jones has had some knee problems in the past. How is he doing right now?
MARK TURGEON: Joe's knees are fine. They hurt in conditioning. That's the only time they hurt. He doesn't want to run conditioning. I think he did it to the coach last year and he did it to me this year. We had his knees checked out, just for the piece of mind, so all the NBA folks know that. Joe is just a big man that runs a little different than most people. We've worked on his running style, trying to make him run a little bit better. He's worked with some people to try to make him run better. But right now Joe has a sprained foot. I'll be honest with you, I haven't coached Joe up and down yet, so I don't know much about Joe except he's a great leader and great kid. Today is supposed to be his first practice, so I'm looking forward to that. His knees are fine, and if we can get his foot healthy, I think Joe is going to have a great year.

Q. We all know Josh Carter is a great perimeter shooter, but what are your first impressions of him as a player that can really help the program?
MARK TURGEON: I think our system is perfect for him. When we were at Kansas our 2's and 3's always did well. And Wichita State, guys that I coached are all-time 3-point career leaders in percentage, and most shots made. So I think it's going to be a great system for him. What we've been working with Josh on since we took the job on April 10th is trying to improve his all around game and handling the basketball, mid-range game.
Josh would shoot the 3 or take it all the way to the basket, in all the films I've watched. We're trying to use his height to get in the paint and have a mid-range game. If he can add all that, get to the foul line more, that will help. Then defensively we're just continuing to try to give him confidence to get better. He's got the length to be a great defender. And then he's just a great kid. You're going to have to ask them how they feel about me and how they feel about our system, but I think everybody is pretty excited about it.

Q. You mentioned Dominique a little bit. He's been a little bit overlooked because of Acie last year and so forth, but he's always seemed to be a steady hand. What do you see from him that can provide leadership, especially as a point guard?
MARK TURGEON: Dominique brings it every day. If I made him run 100 sprints, 17 guys would quit and Dominique would run all 100 sprints. That's just the kind of kid he is and the way his parents raised him. What I see in him is a guy that's going to do whatever the coach asks. And then he's very intelligent. He can pick up multiple positions and I can explain it and show it to him and he can do it right every time. With him having to take more of an offensive load, leading the team, being an extension of the coach I'm hoping that he doesn't always have to defend the best player this year, which he's done in the past. I'm sure he will all the time. But hopefully Josh will step up.
We have two great defenders in Derrick and Donald. They get right in there and do a tremendous job. So hopefully that will help Dominique. He does get overlooked because he's a quiet kid. Probably his biggest weakness is he's not very vocal on the floor. But he leads by example. If we can get him to talk a little bit more -- and hopefully being a former point guard, I can help him and Donald become good point guards as the year goes on.

Q. You have only had a few years with your team, but now that you've got the whole team together, is it like what you thought it was going to be with them? Has there been any particular surprises, either athletically or -- is it what you thought?
MARK TURGEON: When I first moved there, athletically was the biggest, it was, wow, what a jump from what I had, was able to accrue at Wichita. As far as work habits go, being a team, there really hasn't been any surprises. They're young men that want to be coached and want to be successful. The thing I like most, you know you have a chance to be good when the players care just as much or more than the coach does.
It's our livelihood so we put a lot into it, but when young men are invested the way these young men are invested you have a great chance to be good. They are all truly invested in our success. A guy that is really practicing well for us is Chinemulu Elonu, a junior, trying to simplify things, he can be a great screener. He gets every rebound. He'll knock his own players over to get a rebound. He's been good with that. Our system is pretty simple right now, we'll see as it gets more complex how he can handle it. But right now in practice -- without Joe out there, too, he's really kind of stepped up and a guy I've been pleasantly surprised in. He's just lacking confidence. When he gets his confidence up I think he's a guy that maybe a lot of people aren't counting on helping us this year that will maybe help us.
PETER IRWIN: Best of luck. Have a great season.

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