By Jeff Barker, The Baltimore Sun
7:06 PM EST, December 4, 2012
COLLEGE PARK —
What Mark Turgeon remembers — what lingers with the coach like a nagging cold — is when his Maryland players dribble balls off their feet or try to make heroic passes when mundane ones would suffice.
Maryland (6-1), which hosts UMES (0-7) Wednesday night, has won six games in a row.
But, characteristically, Turgeon isn't as taken with his team as the fans might be.
"I think everybody has got the cart way before the horse with our team," the coach said Tuesday. "I don't think we're a very good team yet and everybody's talking about how good we are. We really haven't done anything yet, to be quite honest with you."
For Turgeon, each Maryland mistake is like a tiny paper cut. Maryland had 19 turnovers in Sunday's 69-62 win over George Mason — one shy of the season high.
When Turgeon was asked about the turnovers, the coach exhaled.
"Sloppiness, immaturity, youth has something to do with it," he said. "Do I think it's correctable? Absolutely. Dez [Wells] actually dribbled off his foot three times — one time it actually went right to Pe'Shon [Howard] on the break. Hopefully he can figure out how to dribble without dribbling off his foot as the year goes on."
Wells, a sophomore swingman who transferred from Xavier, smiled Tuesday when asked about the errors.
"I have to see the clips," he said. "It's probably me being too aggressive or one of those freak accidents that happen in a game. I'm going to hear about that."
Wells has shot 20-for-28 from the floor over the past two games. He has scored nearly as many points in those two games (48) as during the previous five combined.
But he agreed with his coach that the Terps — whose rotation includes four freshmen and two transfers — are nowhere near the team they need to be.
"From 1 to 10, I'd say we're about a 2 or a 3," Wells said. "We have to cut our turnovers down. Our freshmen have to get up to speed. We're not even scratching the surface of the potential that we have. As long as we get better every day …"
Among Turgeon's goals this season is to improve the assist-to-turnover ratio.
Last season, Maryland had 339 assists and 425 turnovers, a ratio of 0.8 that put the Terps in a four-way tie for last in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Through seven games, Maryland's ratio is marginally better — 1.2.
The Terps are markedly improved in rebounding and defense. Maryland ranks second nationally in rebounding margin at plus-17 per game.
But turnovers continue to dog the coach. He keeps seeing basketballs bouncing off his players' shoes.
"You know, I don't know how I look to you guys but I haven't slept very well since the game ended Sunday," Turgeon told reporters. "I can't figure it out. It's just really trying to go too fast and decision-making. I can't control the ones where the guys just dribble off their feet or fumble the ball out of bounds when they have a layup."
Maryland enters a six-game stretch of nonconference home games before the ACC season begins against Virginia Tech on Jan. 5. Maryland will be expected to win all six.
"We're getting better and we're defending and rebounding pretty well but we've got a long ways to go if we're going to compete in the ACC," Turgeon said. "So it's a big month for us."
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