Both Maryland and Miami lost close games at home to ranked teams Saturday, but their respective coaches reacted differently to the defeats as the teams prepared to play each other Wednesday night in College Park.
Mark Turgeon, whose Terps lost 83-79 to No. 20 Pittsburgh, thought his team played better against the Panthers than they did in losing at North Carolina State on Monday. In that game, Maryland led by nine at haltime and by 11 points early in the second half.
Turgeon was pleased by the offensive progress he thought his team had made against one of the league’s better defensive teams, shooting 48 percent from the field, scoring 20 more points than it had in a loss at Pittsburgh on Jan. 6, going to the free throw line 30 times.
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“Our guys were really hurting in the locker room the other night, so that was a good sign,” Turgeon said on Monday’s ACC coaches teleconference. “I think there were a lot of positives on the offensive end.
“We got points in the paint. We didn’t shoot the ball particuarly well. Our shot selection was better, we got better looks. Execution was better. We’ll build on that. We have to figure out a way to guard better. We have to guard better. Hopefully we will as the season continues.”
Turgeon has been known to be hypercritical of his team’s shortcomings throughout his first three seasons in College Park, and he has worked at trying to stay more upbeat this season no matter how exasperated he can get watching players make the same mistakes.
Conversely, Jim Larranaga seems to be taking a different approach down at Miami. Larranaga doesn’t seem to care that the Hurricanes stayed with No. 2 Syracuse for most of their game Saturday, even leading by a point with seven minutes left before losing 64-52.
Despite completely rebuilding after dominating the ACC last season – the Hurricanes were the only team not to return a single starter – Larranaga is holding his current team to the same high standard as he did the past couple of years.
“Very, very good teams play very close games and win,” Larranaga said Monday. “Teams that are struggling still often play close games but lose. It’s not playing close, it’s being able to close the deal is what you’re trying to accomplish.
“The teams that win those close games buid up confidence, the teams that lose it creates a lot of doubt in their mind so the next time that circumstance occurs they’ve got to overcome those doubts and still play with confidence down the stretch.”
Wednesday's game is critical for Maryland (11-9, 3-4 AC) and Miami (10-9, 2-5) because each is trying to hang onto whatever shred of hope that remains for a postseason (read NIT) bid. Given that it’s in College Park, the pressure is clearly on the Terps.