Welcome back to Morning Shootaround, a regular feature this season the day after Maryland basketball games. While we can’t bring you into the Terps’ locker room after games – reporters haven’t been allowed in there since the last couple of years under Gary Williams – we will recap what was said in the press conference afterward by Maryland coach Mark Turgeon and his players. We will give some of our own insight into what transpired on the court during the previous night’s game and what the Terps will be working on at practice looking ahead to their next game.
MARYLAND 71, MONMOUTH 38 @ COMCAST CENTER, WEDNESDAY
*** It happens to college basketball teams every December, when the schedule becomes more sporadic and the competition spotty.
Good teams – or potentially good ones like the Terps – regress.
It seems to be happening to Maryland over its past two games, sloppy and sleep-inducing victories over South Carolina State and Monmouth. What’s a coach to do after a 33-point victory that included a first half that was, as Mark Trugeon said, “probably the worst half of basketball one of my teams played, maybe ever?"
The good news is that the Terps now have more than a week off before their next game, giving Turgeon time to work on some things in practice. Also, coming off two poor performances, Maryland’s performance against Monmouth will help the coach get his players’ attention.
“This is good for me because we have a lot of time to practice and I’m really looking forward to it,” he said.
Sophomore guard Dez Wells, who Turgeon said might have been the only player deserving to start the second half against Monmouth, said “We just have to take this as a learning experience and we’re going to have a long practice when we do it again.”
For some reason I don’t think Turgeon will wait that long ...
*** I agree with Turgeon’s move to return to his regular starting lineup after tinkering with it for two games and giving some of the freshmen and senior transfer Logan Aronhalt a chance to hear their names called and their pictures displayed on the overhead screen in the darkened arena.
Initially I thought Seth Allen might eventually replace junior Pe’Shon Howard at the point, but Allen has become a little too careless with the ball, evidenced by his seven turnovers in 15 minutes (“He was working on a world-record pace for turnovers,” Turgeon said) against Monmouth.
The Terps had a season-high 23 turnovers.
This after Allen had “his two best practices of the year -- go figure -- and then we didn’t take care of the ball and he had his worst game of the year.” Turgeon said, adding, “ I’m not worried about Seth, I’m not worried about turnovers, I am worried about our ability to get into our and that’s what I’ve got to get corrected.”
Another move many believed was imminent was Turgeon starting Shaquille Cleare after starting the 6-9 freshman against Maryland-Eastern Shore last week, and then Cleare playing one of his better games Saturday against South Carolina State. He had only two points but did have five rebounds Wednesday.
“It’s frustrating because Shaq has been really good in practice and he was – let me temper it – he wasn’t very good when he went in,” Turgeon said. "He was lost, spinning in circles.”
Cleare wasn’t alone among the freshmen. Charles Mitchell, who already has had a couple of double-doubles, didn’t score for the first time this season and had only three rebounds in 11 minutes. Jake Layman, who sat out the first half for disciplinary reasons, scored one point and had three rebounds in 13 minutes.
“I just feel like I keep giving these guys minutes, hoping they’re going to get better,” Turgeon said. “Everybody talks about what a great class this is, but they better start. ... To me you judge a class when they graduate. They’ve got to a lot better for us to get where we want to be this year.”
Said Wells: “When we’re in the second half of the season, freshmen are not considered freshmen anymore. They’re almost upperclassmen. They have to take this a lot more seriously than I guess they do.”
Wells, who has quickly emerged as one of the leaders, said that he and others like Howard and sophomore guard Nick Faust have to take some of the responsibility for the growth of freshmen off of Turgeon and the coaching staff.