Welcome to a second season of Morning Shootaround. We will follow the Terps throughout the 2013-14 season, but this year in this space we will provide a look ahead rather than looking back. We will try to analyze Maryland's strengths and weaknesses, as well as those of its upcoming opponent. We also hope to provide quotes and anecdotes from practices to give some idea of what Mark Turgeon and his team are doing.
Here are a few things to look for as the Terps get ready to play at Clemson Sunday.
CLOSING THE DEAL
- Remembering Devin Gray as Terps-Clemson ACC series ends
- Maryland's first Big Ten basketball schedule
- Maryland Terps coverage
- Analyzing Maryland's 2013-14 men's basketball season player by player
- 2013-14 Terps basketball [Pictures]
- Maryland-Duke memories
See more photos »
- Maryland Madness sights & sounds [Video]
- Video: Williams retires as Maryland basketball head coach
Maryland’s inability to win several close games this season has made the difference between the Terps being a likely National Invitation Tournament team and making their first NCAA tournament in Turgeon’s three seasons.
The latest near-miss came last Monday, when Maryland came from 12 points down in the last 10 minutes against No. 4 Syracuse before losing, 57-55, when Seth Allen failed to hit a last-second 3-pointer.
It followed a two-point loss at then-No. 8 Duke a little more than a week earlier.
“I think every game is different,” Turgeon said after practice Saturday at Comcast Center. “I thought our execution versus Duke was tremendous in that game. Charles [Mitchell] had a layup in that game [to possibly win.
“[Against] Virginia, our execution was great, but we were too far behind. The Syracuse game, same thing. We lost the game in the first half.”
Asked whether he thought about calling timeout on the play when Dez Wells gave the ball up on the wing to Nick Faust, who was blocked (and possibly fouled) going to the basket, Turgeon said that he usually doesn’t call timeout in that situation.
What also impacted Turgeon’s decision not to call timeout was Syracuse’s zone defense, which had given the Terps trouble throughout the game.
“I don’t know if we would have gotten a better shot,” he said. “Maybe a contested 3 or something."
Turgeon said that when the Terps lost a couple of close games early to Connecticut and George Washington, the fans “had a built-in excuse” that Allen was out with a broken foot. “We lost to good teams,” Turgeon said.
Alluding to losses to Virginia, Duke and Syracuse, Turgeon said, “They’re all almost Top 10 teams, two of them were on the road. The way we look at it, we’re right there, we just haven’t figured it.”
Said Allen: “It shows how good we could be, without dumb stuff like turnovers [18 against Syracuse, tying the season-high]. It shows the potential we have later in the season.”
But Allen thinks there’s a reason why the Terps have strugged at the end of games.
“I think part of it is that we don’t come out as strong as we should be and we’re kind of digging ourselves in a hole,” he said. “We put a lot of pressure on our defense to come back.
At the end of the game, we’ve got a lot better than we were than at the beginning of the year, we’re closing games out, we’re guarding at the end of the shot clock and we’re doing great defensively.”
LAST TRIP TO LITTLEJOHN
Maryland’s last visit to Clemson as a member of the ACC is unlikely to produce the same kind of passionate response the Terps received at places such as Duke, North Carolina, North Carolina State and Virginia, but the game could have huge ramifications for seeding in the upcoming ACC tournament.
The Terps could tie the Tigers at 8-8 with a victory, with two home games left against Virginia Tech and Virginia. As of Sunday, Maryland is tied for seventh with Florida State and a half-game ahead of 7-8 N.C. State.