Baltimore Sun reporters Don Markus and Jeff Barker and producer-editor Jonas Shaffer weigh in on three of the biggest topics of the past week in Maryland sports.
After Wednesday’s 16-point loss at No. 5 Ohio State, is Mark Turgeon now under more scrutiny than Randy Edsall?
Don Markus: The honeymoon for Mark Turgeon ended last season when his team struggled to find any consistency during the ACC schedule and lost a couple of games that many believed the Terps should have won. (Boston College and Georgia Tech, both on the road, come to mind.)
But because he had inherited a much more difficult situation than Randy Edsall in terms of talent and was able to have his team play hard on a consistent basis his first two years, the goodwill and patience extended to Turgeon extended into this season.
That is nearly all gone after another disappointing performance by Maryland against Ohio State, one that in many ways was just as bad the home loss to Oregon State a few weeks ago.
The 76-60 final score was deceiving, considering it felt more like a 25 to 30-point loss.
Judging by the reaction from fans commenting on The Sun’s website as well as those I spoke with at the airport in Columbus on Thursday morning, Turgeon could start feeling the same kind of wrath Edsall had until the football team won at Virginia Tech and North Carolina State this year.
Edsall still has his doubters, those who believe he is not the coach to lead the Terps into the Big Ten. But at this point, he will likely get at least two years to prove he is – with the last year of his contract in 2016 up for discussion unless he starts strong in the new league.
Turgeon is certainly not close to that discussion, in part because he signed an eight-year deal when he left Texas A&M to come to Maryland and because he has had two highly ranked recruiting classes. But fans want to see that individual talent turn into a top 25 team.
The storm clouds are starting to gather over Comcast Center, and they could turn even darker should the Terps lose to George Washington on Sunday. Given that the Colonials have already beaten Miami and No. 20 Creighton, this is more than a trap game for Maryland.
It actually would be a quality win for a team desperately in search of one.
A year ago, the Terps nearly beat defending champion and No. 3 Kentucky at the Barclays Center, then went through the rest of a very weak non-conference barely tested. Turgeon said later that it hurt his team and his own comfort level as a coach.
Now, after nearly beating No. 18 Connecticut at the Barclays Center, the Terps have not played very well aside from their three-game sweep in the Paradise Jam and a 27-point win over Morgan State last week.
Many still think Turgeon is the right guy to bring the Terps back to national prominence, but apparently it’s going to take longer than many -- myself included -- expected. Losing Seth Allen with a broken foot right before the season began certainly threw Maryland off track, but there are no excuses for the way Turgeon’s team played in Columbus.
It was embarrassing, nearly from the outset. It was, unfortunately, reminscent of some of the performances Edsall’s team gave as recently as Wake Forest earlier this season. If Edsall can take heat for the way his team didn’t show up to play that day before losing Stefon Diggs and Deon Long to horrific injuries, so can Turgeon. There were no injuries at the Value City Arena in the Big Ten/Big Ten (non) Challenge but plenty of insults.
How do you think Maryland fans felt seeing watching ESPN’s Top 10 Wednesday night and Thursday and seeing three Ohio State dunks from the same game? Regardless of what happens the rest of the way, Turgeon’s team had better look more prepared, focus and committed than they did against the Buckeyes.
That’s a coach’s job, and right now, the basketball coach is feeling a lot more heat than the football coach in College Park for the first time since each was hired.
What former Maryland recruit could Mark Turgeon and the Terps use now?
Jonas Shaffer: For all his flaws, give Gary Williams this much credit: He knew how to find, and develop, a point guard for his system. And before he retired in 2011, he had a letter of intent from a kid named Sterling Gibbs.