FINAL SCORE: Florida State 65, Maryland 62 at Comcast Center on Wednesday night
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Maryland should not have given up its big lead -- 13 points in the first half, nine at halftime -- with Florida State star Michael Snaer on the bench in foul trouble for more than 6 minutes toward the end of the first half and for a large chunk of the second half.
Turgeon takes the blame -- and he should
This might be the first loss since Turgeon came to College Park for which he rightly shouldered the blame. He kept subbing players in and out -- at one point going from a lineup consisting of four freshmen and Nick Faust to one that had his most experienced team, with senior reserves Logan Aronhalt and James Padgett.
Initially after saying, "We panicked as players and as a coaching staff a little bit. We couldn't figure it out," Turgeon took the hit for the way he tried to find the right combination.
"We have so many options, we just kept trying different options," he said. "'Let's try this guy, oh, let's try this guy, somebody's got to make a shot.' Nobody could get into a rhythm. Sometimes you've got to stick with your rotation and maybe that's what I learned. It just kept getting worse the more we tried."
I think this is where Turgeon's lack of a rotation -- his coaching "by feel" philosophy -- came back to bite him a little bit.
It's only one loss, but it also seemed to expose some of Maryland's weaknesses: its youth, making careless turnovers (especially in the first half when the Terps could have pushed their lead close to 20 points) and cleaning up on defensive boards (FSU had 10 offensive rebounds in the second half). Those things were all apparent during the 13-game winning streak, but cost Maryland for the first time this season.
I also think that Maryland's soft non-conference schedule -- and a lack of close games -- played into the defeat. The tighter the game became in the second half, the tighter the Terps got.
Turgeon said that he knew after the first possession of the second half -- a turnover -- that it was "going to be a grinder." I understand why Turgeon put the schedule together the way he did -- not knowing Dez Wells and Aronhalt were going to be in College Park -- but not being tested since the opener didn't help Maryland against the Seminoles.
To his credit, Faust admitted as much.
"We definitely had a stretch when we didn't score a lot," Faust said. "Not having tight games earlier in the season I would say definitely affected us, but you take a game like this and you just learn from it."
Not sharing the ball
It's certainly interesting to see how a team acts when it is faced with a challenge. Maryland reverted to how it played in situations last season -- as if the ghost of Terrell Stoglin came back to haunt the Terps and make them take ill-advised shots.
A team that has been near the top of the country in assists (as well as turnovers) had only 11. That might have something to do with the fact that Maryland made only 22 of 60 shots, but it also had to do with more players trying to go one-on-one or just heaving up jumpers instead of going inside to Alex Len.
You could tell Len was a bit frustrated, and the fact that he was wide open underneath when Allen took a desperation 3-pointer that was blocked cleanly by Snaer only added to his -- and Turgeon's -- frustration.
"I think we were trying to settle for jump shots and some of our guys were overdriving, making some not really smart mistakes," Len said.
I asked Len about whether there was too much one-on-one, especially in the second half.
"Exactly," he said. "We were a little bit selfish today."
The biggest culprits were probably Allen and Dez Wells, both of whom finished with five turnovers. Though Allen countered his carelessness with 13 points and helped fuel Maryland's last-minute comeback along with Faust (14 points), Wells played his worst game as a Terp in that regard.
A good question
When a reporter from a Washington television station who has been covering the team all season asked Turgeon about whether his trust to put the game in Allen's hands at the end could result in the freshman guard starting, Turgeon did something that many coaches do that he had yet to do in College Park.
He declined to answer and quickly said, "Next question."
I think it was a legitimate question, though maybe not one asked immediately after a disappointing loss. I think Turgeon trusts Allen to make one play more than he does to run a team, but it still speaks to a larger issue that I have debated all season -- how Pe'Shon Howard's inability to score, or to even shoot, allows teams to pack it in on Len.
It happened again Wednesday night. Howard didn't take a shot for most of the first half, failed to make one the entire game (going 0-for-3) and had only one assist to three turnovers in 24 minutes. Not only does Howard shoot too infrequently to be either a threat to the other team or a help to Len, but he dribbles way too much.
It's only one game, but if the trend continues, Turgeon is going to have to decide whether he can get away with his current rotation of point guards or consider using Faust there again, as he did last season while Howard was sidelined early with a broken foot and later in the season with a torn ACL. Faust, coming back from a shoulder blade injury, had 14 points, two assists and no turnovers in 21 minutes.
Suddenly, the pressure is on the Terps for the first time this season.
Instead of a comfortable 2-0 start in the ACC such as the Seminoles have -- incredibly for the first time in their history in the ACC -- Maryland is now looking at going to play Sunday at Miami (10-3 going into Thursday's game at North Carolina), where the Terps came back from a 16-point deficit last season to lose in double overtime with Scott Spinelli coaching for Turgeon, who had been ejected before his team made its run.
The Hurricanes are without their best inside player, Reggie Johnson (out six weeks with a broken thumb), but this is suddenly a much bigger game for Maryland given that it plays N.C. State and North Carolina next week.