Terp coaches visit Baltimore, but Maryland men don't have a return trip booked

Why do the Maryland women play in Baltimore every year and the Maryland men don't?

Maryland men's basketball coach Mark Turgeon and women's basketball coach Brenda Frese were in Baltimore on Monday, having breakfast with boosters and talking about their teams' upcoming first season in the Big Ten.

Frese will be back when her Terps play at Coppin State on Dec. 21, marking the seventh straight year and eighth time in the past nine seasons that Maryland's women play a team from the Baltimore area away from College Park.

Turgeon has yet to bring his team up to Baltimore since taking over the program in 2011. At Monday's "B1G Basketball Breakfast in Baltimore" at historic Westminster Hall, he said he'd be open to the possibility, but that the plans haven't come together yet.

"I don't want to promise that until we're able to pull it off," he said.

"It's the arena, finding the right team to play. There's a lot of things that go into it. It's not easy. I thought it would be a lot easier to do than it was, but hopefully it's going to work out and we can do it in the future."

It seems unlikely that the Maryland men would play one of the Baltimore-area teams on its home court. But Turgeon said there could be a possibility of playing a non-conference game at the recently renamed Royal Farms Arena downtown when the students are on winter break, traditionally a time when the Terps trouble attracting fans to College Park.

Frese sees the value of making regular visits to the Baltimore area and has taken her women's team to Loyola four times, to Towson three times and to UMBC once.

"It's really important for us every year to come up to Baltimore," Frese said Monday. "The fans are tremendous. They commute down to College Park to be able to support the athletic teams. For us to make it a little easier for them, to come around the Beltway, is important."

Frese's teams have lost only once in their trips to Baltimore — at Towson in 2009 — but she said her teams are usually tested when they travel here.

"I think we always get everyone's best games," said Frese, who didn't start coming to Baltimore until her fifth season, in 2006-07, and not on a yearly basis until 2008-09. "You're in a venue where the attendance is really high and we get everyone's best shot. I think they are really good road games for us."

At one point in his tenure as coach, Gary Williams took the Maryland men to what is now Royal Farms Arena eight straight years. The last time the Terps men played in Baltimore was against Iowa in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge in 1999.

Turgeon has made trips to the city for recruiting, booster functions and even to catch some baseball, as he did for Game 2 of the American League Championship Series between the Orioles and Kansas City Royals on Saturday. But not yet for a Terps basketball game.

Maryland athletic director Kevin Anderson said he has discussed the possibility of playing in Baltimore with Turgeon.

"We would love to have a game in Baltimore," Anderson said. "Primarily it's the venue and establishing some relationships, so I can see that happening over a period of time. Coming in here, as Mark has, trying to reestablish the program."

Anderson said that in games played at off-campus sites against non-conference opponents, "People are looking for revenue, they are looking for big paydays, so not having a big arena here, that's not possible. We'd love to do it, no question."

Maryland's men's and women's teams have started practicing for the upcoming season and will hold Maryland Madness on Friday night at the recently renamed Xfinity Center. The men and women both open their season with home games Nov. 14; the men play Wagner and the women face Mount St. Mary's.

don.markus@baltsun.com

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