COLLEGE PARK — It's the time of the college basketball season when many coaches become amateur statisticians and bracket pundits, sizing up their schools' records against scores of other would-be participants in the NCAA and NIT tournaments.
But not Mark Turgeon. As the Terps (16-11, 6-7 Atlantic Coast Conference) prepared for Saturday's game at Georgia Tech (9-18, 2-11), the Maryland coach was in a Ratings Percentage Index-free zone.
"I'll be honest with you guys, I haven't looked at the RPI, the Dick Vitale Bald Dome [Index] — whatever. I couldn't tell you, and I really don't care," Turgeon said Friday.
Turgeon has said he believes Maryland would need to win next month's ACC tournament to gain an NCAA berth. His disinterest in the ratings is also a function of necessity. He has neither the time nor the inclination to break down the numbers, and he doesn't believe it would help his players to discuss scenarios involving the NCAA or NIT.
Rather, his focus is on solving Maryland's road woes. The Terps are 1-5 in conference games away from home.
"Our motivation is more about toughness than anything else," Turgeon said. "We haven't been very tough on the road. As far as talking about that other stuff, we won't even go there."
Maryland did not play in the postseason last year under coach Gary Williams. The Terps were in the NCAA tournament the two previous seasons, and in the NIT the year before that.
The Terps are coming off a 75-70 win over Miami at Comcast Center Tuesday night. While it was a big win — the Hurricanes maintain NCAA tournament aspirations — Turgeon is wary of his team's mood.
Four times this season, the Terps have won a home game only to lose the next game on the road. The last time it happened, Maryland defeated Boston College on Feb. 16 before losing by 27 points at Virginia two days later.
The Virginia loss looms large because it represented an opportunity to beat a ranked team on the road for the first time this season.
"It's more difficult [coaching] after a win than after a loss," Turgeon said. "We acted like we had just won the national championship after we beat Boston College."
The Terps' only win in an opposing team's arena this season came Feb. 7 at Clemson. Turgeon has often expressed displeasure that the Terps have seemed to be pushed around away from Comcast Center. He has said they don't box out effectively and they lack "gumption" in road contests.
The coach's most frustrating public moments have seemed to come after road games, when he struggles to explain his team's seeming lack of toughness late in games.
Georgia Tech has lost 10 of its last 11 games, including a 61-50 defeat at Comcast Center on Jan. 15. But the Yellow Jackets — whose leading scorer, Glen Rice Jr., was suspended indefinitely on Feb. 17 for undisclosed reasons — rank fourth in the ACC in field-goal percentage defense (40.6 percent).
"They play very physical," Turgeon said.
Turgeon has challenged his post players in particular to be more rugged.
Senior forward James Padgett matched his career high with 16 points in the Miami win, but hasn't scored in double figures on the road since the Temple game more than a month ago.
"The time he's most aggressive is when the shot goes up," Turgeon said. "You always just have to bring it out of him."
Padgett said he's long been told that he's too passive on the court — that it doesn't look like he's playing hard. "Everybody tells me I'm too nice," he said.
"I don't hang out with James," Turgeon said, "so I don't know if he's one of those guys that doesn't step on an ant. I'm sure he is."
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