Time will tell if Russell Turner is the genuine basketball coaching star some identify in the former NBA assistant who also cut his coaching teeth at Stanford and Wake Forest.
But now a dozen games into his first season at the helm of the UC Irvine men's program, it cannot be argued that Turner is a genuine person.
From his introductory press conference, the passion with which Turner approaches his job, his players and his considerable mid-major challenge at UCI, has been as apparent as the still-solid 6-foot-7 frame that enabled him to twice earn NCAA Division III All-American honors at Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia in the early 1990s.
That passion has led to some self-criticism, the foremost example being a demonstrative, profanity-laced double-technical ejection against San Jose State in a Dec. 4 home loss.
And, as the Anteaters (6-6) enter Big West Conference play Tuesday night at home against UC Riverside, it has led to the kind of restless and agonizing self-analysis that rarely occurs outside the competitively charged atmosphere of Division I college and professional athletics.