Maryland coach Mark Turgeon knows that the odds are stacked against his team making the NCAA tournament barring a championship in next month's ACC tournament in Greensboro, N.C.
He also believes that the Terps are better than their record indicates.
“Losing’s no fun,” Turgeon said after Maryland practiced Monday. “It’s been a tough year. We’re 14-12 (6-7 in the ACC). We expected to be at least 20-6 at this point, but we’re not. We are where we are. We get to play Wake Forest tomorrow night, which is great. We didn’t have to sit on this one for very long.”
Turgeon was referring to Maryland’s heartbreaking 69-67 defeat at No. 8 Duke on Saturday, a loss made a little tougher to digest after the ACC admitted that the referees gave the Blue Devils an extra possession late in the game after mixup with the scorer’s table about the possession arrow.
Asked if there was any emotional letdown after the loss to Duke, Turgeon said that his team took Sunday off and that he went to watch his daughter’s team play. He said he had planned to give the team a day away from practice regardless of the outcome Saturday.
Turgeon said the team was “dialed in” at practice Monday.
“We had a really good practice,” he said.
After playing four of five on the road – including games at North Carolina, then-No. 20 Virginia and Duke – the Terps finish the regular season with four of five at home. After Wake Forest, which comes in on a five-game losing streak that includes three defeats at home, the Terps host No. 1 Syracuse on Monday night.
Maryland will then play at Clemson, ending the regular season with home games against Virginia Tech and a rematch with the Cavaliers.
“It’s just one day at a time, which is a cliché, but we started approaching it that way when we were struggling,” Turgeon said. “We have lost three out of four, but we’ve gotten a lot better, we’ve gotten a lot tougher, we’ve gained confidence, but there’s so much we still need to work on. “When you play better, it’s easier to narrow it down. When you’re not playing well, there’s so much to work on that it’s overwhelming. Now it’s like, they can see it and hopefully improve on what our weaknesses are now.”
Sophomore forward Jake Layman, who finished with a team-high 18 points against Duke, said that the players still came to Comcast Center “to get up shots” but said that it also gave them a day “to clear our minds.”
Junior guard Nick Faust said it hasn’t been difficult to forget what happened at Cameron Indoor Stadium, where the Terps lost for the seventh straight time.
“We put that game behind us,” Faust said. “It was a stepping stone, a building block. We’re just looking forward to Wake Forest. They’re a great team and they can come in here and get a win so we’ve got to lock in and be ready to go.”
Faust agrees with Turgeon’s assessment about his team’s improvement.
“We’ve definitely gotten better as a team,” Faust said. “Shot selection, defensive principles, stuff like that. All the little things we weren’t doing in the beginning of the season are starting to click.”