Mark Turgeon would rather coach in the NCAA Tournament than watch it.

"Our season was great," Turgeon, Wichita State's basketball coach, said Saturday at Ford Center, where he watched Kansas University take on Arizona State in the second round of the West Regional. "I'm happy my wife and I can do something like this and see a lot of good KU people we haven't seen in a long time."

Turgeon and his wife, Anne, are both "KU people." Turgeon played guard at KU for coach Larry Brown 1983-87, was a student assistant on Brown's national title team in 1988 and was an aide to coach Roy Williams 1989-92. Anne was a team manager.

Turgeon and his wife sat behind KU's bench Saturday, next to former teammate Kevin Pritchard. Mark Turgeon also must have worn out his wrist, shaking hands with countless old friends such as former KU athletic director Bob Frederick.

Turgeon hadn't been to a Kansas game since the Jayhawks celebrated their 100th year of basketball in 1998. The Topeka native has been busy building his own program.  Wichita State (18-12) finished its season with a 76-65 loss Wednesday at Iowa State in the first round of the NIT.

"It was great for us to get in the postseason and have a few extra days of practice," he said. "It gave us confidence to play in the postseason. We played our tails off; we just weren't good enough to get it done."

Wichita State was good enough to give the WSU faithful hope for the future. The Shockers' 18 victories were their most since 1989, and their 12 Missouri Valley Conference wins were the most since 1982. The Shockers, who lose one senior, finished third in the MVC.

"The media will probably pick us first in the league next year," said Turgeon, whose starting lineup included three sophomores, a freshman and a senior. "I hope we're ready for it."  WSU also will move into renovated Koch Arena next season.  "I walked through it the other day," Turgeon said, " and it gave me goosebumps."

Source:  3/23/03