After his team beat Tulsa at Comcast Center on Sunday night, Maryland men's basketball coach Mark Turgeon scratched a message on the whiteboard in the locker room.
“1-0,” it read.
Turgeon had given a similar message verbally to his players after the Terps had lost to Boston University at home eight days before, but he didn’t think it got through.
“When I left the locker room after the BU game, I said, ‘This is over, we’re starting new when we come back,” Turgeon recalled Monday during a teleconference with reporters. “They had their heads down the first practice when we came back. I gave them a long speech and said, ‘How can you have your heads down? This is the first practice of the year.’
"We’re moving on. We’re starting over. They bought into it. If that game last night had been two days after the BU game, I’m not sure we’d come back. Being down 25-10 [in the first half], new approach, having Seth [Allen] back gave us the offense we needed to get back before half.”
Turgeon said that Allen, who scored nine points in the first half and 15 points in 21 minutes after missing the first two months of the season with a broken foot, had some pain in the foot Monday as a result of being kicked “right on the bone, right on the spot” while diving for a loose ball in the second half.
But Turgeon expects Allen to play Tuesday against North Carolina Central.
“He was in some pain when he woke up this morning, he’s been getting treatment all day, he did not practice today, he’s feeling better as the day’s gone on,” Turgeon said. “We expect Seth to play, we expect him to feel well. I think the day will help him just getting ready for tomorrow.”
Asked how long it will take for Allen to return to the starting lineup, Turgeon said, “It depends on how quickly he can get in shape. He’s really out of shape. It’s pretty amazing what he did last night. He got really tired in the second half. ... Eventually Seth will work his way back into the starting lineup.”
Turgeon said that he will continue to have Allen come off the bench, with freshman Roddy Peters starting his fifth straight game at point guard. Turgeon said that transfer Jon Graham (Calvert Hall) will “probably” make his first start for the Terps at center Tuesday.
“I think that Jon Graham earned the start for the way he played last night, he played hard and it rubbed off on everybody else,” Turgeon said of the 6-8, 220-pound junior who finished with seven rebounds, three blocked shots and three points in 20 minutes off the bench.
Said Graham: ”I’ll get myself ready to go. From the first day I stepped in the gym, it’s been an honor to be here. From where I started, I don’t think a lot of people would have guessed that [starting] for me. I approach every game the same, and that’s how I will approach this game.”
Turgeon is hoping to build some momentum going into Saturday’s ACC home opener against Georgia Tech, but knows that North Carolina Central will not be as easy as some might think. The 7-3 Eagles beat North Carolina State in overtime earlier this season and have played a number of other teams tough.
“We know Central’s good, we knew that when we scheduled them, we wanted to schedule all good teams this year, that’s we did it, we think they’re going to win their league [Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference], ” Turgeon said. “They already beat N.C. State, they played Cincinnati tough. Their guards are good. With one day to prepare you’ve got to rely on your defensive principals.”
The Eagles boast the nation’s third-leading scorer in senior guard Jeremy Ingram (24.6 points a game). Ingram scored 37 points in a recent loss at Wichita State.
“Ingram’s pretty special,” Turgeon said. "It comes down to guarding their sets and being discliplined defensively. I thought we were as good as we were [all season] defensively [against Tulsa]. Tulsa just made a lot of tough shots on us. We still held them to 38 percent. We’re going to approach it with our depth, our defense is going to get better.”