Mark Turgeon is the most underrated coach in the country

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When I sat down to do this post on Texas A&M, my goal was to shed some light on the team that SI’s Andy Glockner dubbed the nation’s “Mystery Men”.

As I did a little research in Mark Turgeon’s tenure in College Station, I noticed something interesting — this Aggie team has followed almost the exact same script each of the previous three season.

They play a solid non-conference schedule, heading into conference play with a good record that is fairly well supported with good wins. Just when the Aggies are beginning to get some national recognition, they start slowly in conference play only to rally late in the year, earn an at-large berth into the tournament, and beat a school from Utah before losing in the second round.

Take a look.

2007-2008:

  • Non-conference: 14-1; wins over Washington, Ohio State, Alabama, LSU; loss to Arizona
  • Conference: Started 1-3, won five in a row, lost five of seven, made the Big XII Tournament final
  • NCAA Tournament: Beat BYU in the 8-9 game, lost to UCLA

2008-2009:

  • Non-conference: 14-1; wins over Kent State, Alabama, Arizona, LSU; loss to Tulsa
  • Conference: Started 3-7, won six in a row to end the season.
  • NCAA Tournament: Beat BYU in the 8-9 game, lost to UConn

2009-2010:

  • Non-conference: 11-3; wins over Clemson, Minnesota; losses to West Virginia, New Mexico, Washington
  • Conference: Started 1-2, won 10 of the last 13
  • NCAA Tournament: Beat Utah State in the 5-12 game, lost to Purdue

This season, Texas A&M beat Temple, Washington, and Arkansas en route to a 13-1 record (their lone loss was to BC) before kicking off Big XII play with a sweep of the Oklahoma schools. They’ve done it by controlling tempo, playing tough defense, and by becoming arguably the best rebounding team in the country — the only other team in the top 11 of both offensive and defensive rebounding percentage is Drexel.

Offensively, the Aggies still have their issues, as they don’t shoot it all that well and commit too many turnovers. Such is life when you have to replace players like Donald Sloan and Brian Davis.

But with the way the Aggies hit the boards and defend, there won’t be on the wrong end of too many blowouts.

Jamie Dixon and Bo Ryan are the two best “program” coaches in the country, guys that can churn out victories and compete for conference titles by recruiting four year players.

He’s not there yet, but if Turgeon continues to build this Texas A&M program, its only a matter of time before his name gets mentioned in the same sentence as those two.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @ballinisahabit.