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Mr. Ed Turner




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Cajuns look to ‘new’ guy

Turner says he does not feel the pressure of high expectations.

Dan McDonald

Ed Turner says he doesn’t feel the pressure of being the “new” guy in the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajun lineup.

If he doesn’t, he’s the only one.

It sure seems like the rest of the Cajun basketball world has high expectations for the soft-spoken Turner heading into Friday’s season opener against an imposing Southern Illinois team.

He’ll be the only new face in the UL lineup when the Cajuns travel to face the Salukis, and the 6-foot-7 Turner is the heir apparent to players like Anthony Johnson and Tiras Wade … wiry wing players that produced points in bunches from the Cajun perimeter.
“I kind of felt the pressure at first,” Turner said, “but the seniors have made me feel pretty comfortable. I’m just trying to blend in. And with guys like Mike (Michael Southall) and Chris (Chris Cameron) inside, I don’t feel like I have to score a lot of points.”

Turner averaged 18 points and eight rebounds while shooting 60 percent from the floor as a sophomore at Central Florida Community College last winter, and it was that shooting percentage that mostly caught UL head coach Robert Lee’s eye.

“He was the kind of player that when he went up to shoot, you expected it to go in,” Lee said. “And he’s shown in some spurts since he got here that he has the ability to score.”

“I’ve got confidence in myself,” Turner said. “I’m surprised when I shoot it and it doesn’t go in. If you don’t play with confidence in Division I, you’re not going to be able to accomplish very much.”

But the step from junior college to Division I play is sometimes a huge one, and Turner’s situation has been no different.

“The thing he has to do is be consistent in his effort from day to day,” Lee said. “He’s got to put in the personal time outside of practice to elevate his game.”

The staff had questions about Turner in preseason drills, but he tallied 14 points on 6-of-10 shooting with two three-pointers in 17 exhibition minutes against St. Gregory’s last week.

“I was a lot more pleased with the way he played in the exhibition than in practice,” Lee said. “Who knows. He may be totally different when we play Friday.”

The staff doesn’t want him to change too much, since he had talent enough to sign with Pittsburgh right out of Turner-Carroll High in Buffalo, N.Y., where he averaged 20 points and nine boards and led his prep squad to back-to-back city championship finals.

He redshirted at Pittsburgh his first year and played in only eight Panther games during his redshirt freshman season before moving to Central Florida CC.

“I wanted to come down south,” he said. “I liked the weather when I was in junior college, and when I talked to Coach Lee and the coaches I knew this was where I needed to be.”

Turner also has the genes for the game. Father Edward was a second-round draft pick of the Houston Rockets in 1982 after earning three years worth of All-American honors at Texas A&M-Kingsville (then Texas A&I).

“He played before I was born,” Turner said, “but I’ve read all about the things he did. He taught me how to be a man, and that was more important than basketball.”

Originally published November 17, 2005