COLLEGE PARK — Mark Turgeon has often said that good teams need to win conference games on the road.
But the Maryland men's basketball head coach might have added this corrollary: First, you need to establish dominance on your home floor.
That suddenly has become an issue for the Terps, who entered the season with a 29-game winning streak against nonconference opponents at Comcast Center. Saturday’s 83-77 loss to Boston University was Maryland’s second nonleague loss at home this season. That’s pretty much uncharted territory for the Terps, who are 162-38 in 200 games (including league contests) in College Park. It's also the first time since the 1988-89 season that Maryland has lost to two unranked nonconference opponents in one year.
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The super-competitive, always candid Turgeon admitted to being perplexed after Saturday’s game.
“We are what we are. We’re trying. I’m trying to figure it out and hopefully can over the break,” Turgeon said after a game marred by 17 Maryland turnovers and an abundance of Terps fouls. Boston University went to the foul line 36 times, compared with Maryland’s 26. Granted, some of the gap was because the Terps were forced to foul at the end.
But given Maryland’s size advantage, you might have thought it would be the Terriers getting into foul difficulties, not the Terps.
Turgeon looked worn out, like a man struggling to solve a crossword puzzle or Rubik’s Cube and is left with only a furrowed brow. “We go and lose at home and then play pretty well in the Paradise Jam and then lose a couple. I don’t know,” Turgeon said. “That’s the perplexing thing. We can’t score 77 at home and lose, so maybe it’s on the defensive end.”
He cited these issues with his team after the game:
Turgeon suggested that his team still lacks quality depth, and said he is concerned about how much playing time wings Jake Layman (36 minutes) and Dez Wells (also 36 minutes) have accumulated this season.
He said he needs to play Layman and Wells “until they drop, almost.”
At one point, Turgeon recalled, Wells signaled that he needed a rest. “I said, ‘Dez, I can’t take you out. There’s no one to go in for you.’ ” Turgeon said.
I don’t see an immediate remedy for this, until next season. But it’s clear that Maryland is better off in the depth department when it gets better performances from post players Shaquille Cleare (four points) and Charles Mitchell (three points).
This one is hard to assess. Turgeon talked afterward about shots rimming out during a key period in the second half.
“I’ve been coaching a long time. The ball is not bouncing our way,” Turgeon said.
Forward Evan Smotrycz said almost exactly the same thing, adding: “Any time you lose … people think [Turgeon] is not doing a good job. Personally, I’d run through a wall for the guy. This is in no way a reflection on him.”
Smotrycz, by the way, entered the second half in a 2-for-19 shooting slump dating to last Saturday's game against Florida Atlantic. The good news for Terps fans, who may be starved for some, is that he shot 6-for-7 after halftime and finished with 15 points and 13 rebounds.
Turgeon said he knew Boston University would play a zone defense and that Maryland had worked on its offense to combat the scheme.
When he watches the game video, Turgeon said, “It’s not going to be the zone offense” that troubles him. “It’s going to be the turnovers.”
The Terriers got 25 points off Maryland’s 17 turnovers. Wells, who has made an effort to reduce his turnovers this season, committed six to go with his team-leading 18 points. He also had nine rebounds but no assists.