Anthony Turner brings philosophy, faith and 26 years of experience to the Utah Valley University women’s basketball.
Head coach Cathy Nixon’s decision to hire Turner was announced July 1, 2016.
“First and foremost he is an incredible man and a very, very good basketball coach,” said Nixon.
The relationship between Nixon and Turner is based on mutual respect.
“She is a phenomenal person, a phenomenal leader and just a joy to be around,” said Turner. “We are very like-minded in a lot of ways. I love being a part of what she is doing.”
Basketball was not the only reason Turner came to UVU.
“I try to surround myself with like-minded people. The young ladies we have in this program are amazing and the academic programs we have are amazing,” said Turner.
Under the direction of Nixon, UVU women’s basketball performs at least one service project every month as a team. Reading to children in elementary schools and providing teeth varnishing to underprivileged children are just two examples.
Service is central to Turner’s leadership philosophy.
Turner views each player on his team as an individual, each having individual needs in addition to the needs of the team. Turner compared himself to coaches who yell and scream and berate their players.
“A lot of time you have coaches who are yellers, screamers, they berate kids and they feel they have to pull [their players] across the finish line,” said Turner.
His philosophy is just the opposite.
“I find that if you see a kid’s needs, and see how you can help them, in the classroom, on the court, in the community, whatever you can do to serve them, you don’t have to berate them, you don’t have to pull them, they are going to have such a great feeling about you they are going to push you across the finish line,” said Turner.
The emphasis he places on emotional control has him spending the majority of games seated. A current of intensity is apparent beneath his stoic facade. When his team is playing well, one might see a slight fist pump. When his team is playing poorly, all you will see from Turner is a glance down at his clipboard, betraying nothing.
Anthony Turner encourages his team from the sideline against BYU at the UCCU Center Nov. 11. Photos by Brigham Berthold
“I’ve learned over a lifetime of coaching, the more emotion you show, especially negative emotion, your team picks up on that,” said Turner.
Turner’s ability to moderate his emotions are clear to his team.
“He brings something special to the team,” said sophomore guard Britta Hall. “All the girls can say it. He just has something about him.”
Turner’s motivations are simple.
“First and foremost I have a love of God,” said Turner. “I am a man of faith. We were commanded to love God and love our neighbors as ourselves. And I love winning. And I hate losing. It might be a bit unhealthy but sometimes the fear of losing is stronger than the exhilaration of winning.”
Turner preaches championship culture. He believes championship culture will bring about championship basketball. A winning culture is important, but, for Turner, resilience is critical to winning.
“No one play or game is more important than the next,” said Turner. “You want to win more than you lose, but if you lose, you have to move on and know you can’t do anything about it.”
Turner applies this philosophy widely. He encourages his players to win with class. If they lose, he helps them do so with class and grace.
Described as both calm and intense, Turner’s effect on the team is unmistakable.
“He has helped us so much, especially with the mental game,” said Hall.
Recruiting has been a hallmark of Turner’s career.
“He has a great history and depth of experience at this level,” said Nixon. “In recruiting, in Xs and Os, just in managing people. One of his very best strengths is that he is a people person. He understands people and he understands dynamics.”
His views on recruiting are unique. While he believes if a person can play, they should come to play for him, Turner sets his minimum standard by athletic ability. But it is not that simple. If you want to play for UVU, you must have character.
“There are a lot of talented losers out there,” said Turner. “So you have to go a step further. You look at the academics, you look at the character, and how they interact with their families, and what kind of people they are. When you bring in championship culture people that have the requisite athletic ability then that’s when it all comes together.”
Despite being the newest addition to the program, Turner has already begun to influence the future of Wolverine basketball. On Nov. 15, 2016, Turner received a commitment from a future player.
“She’s from El Paso, Texas,” said Turner. “She is a stretch forward. An area we are thin in this year, especially with Rebecca [MaWhinney] out with surgery.”
Turner graduated from the University of Colorado in 1999 and began his coaching career in 2000 at San Diego State. He has coaching experience at Boise State, UNLV, Oregon State, and most recently New Mexico.
Originally published in print and online by The Review