Terps searching for improved post play, bounce-back win vs. Miami

COLLEGE PARK - The Maryland men's basketball team's trip home from Charlottesville, Va., Saturday was a quiet one.

Terrapins coach Mark Turgeon said he was the only one who did any talking during the three-hour bus ride, and most of it was venting to his assistants after a 27-point beatdown at Virginia, the team's most lopsided loss of the year.

"Everybody else was pretty distraught about our performance and that's a good sign," Turgeon said Monday.

It was a far different atmosphere from after a 14-point loss at Florida State last month, when Turgeon recalled players laughing and joking in the showers afterward.

The Terps (15-11, 5-7 ACC) suffered their first loss by at least 20 points since sustaining two of them in three games at the Puerto Rico Tip-Off in November, and Turgeon had a message for his players after falling to the 22nd-ranked Cavaliers.

"I was like, 'OK guys, that's a long time since we've played not very well, so we'll let it go and we'll come back Monday and try to be better,'" he said. "We were all not very happy with the way we performed, so I expect us to bounce back and hopefully play better."

Playing its third game in six days, Maryland gets its first shot to move past an ugly defeat where it shot 26.9 percent and was held to just 13 points after halftime when Miami visits Comcast Center tonight.

The Hurricanes (16-9, 7-5) have won six of their last eight games, including a double-overtime victory over the Terps in Miami.

The Hurricanes come to town with a balanced squad that ranks fourth in the ACC in scoring and sixth in points allowed. They have four players averaging in double figures, led by guard Durand Scott's 12.9 per game.

Perhaps of greater concern to the Terps are junior big men Kenny Kadji (6-foot-11) and Reggie Johnson (6-10, 284 pounds).

The Hurricanes could have their way inside tonight if the Terps' post play continues on the path it has followed of late.

"It's minute by minute, timeout by timeout," Turgeon said. "Two of the last three games, they haven't been very good. All of them. ... They've all got to play better."

Maryland has been outrebounded in five of the last six games and outscored in the paint in 13 of its last 14.

On Saturday, no Terps forward scored more than James Padgett's six points while freshman Alex Len didn't make much of an appearance, finishing with no points, no rebounds, no blocks, no steals and no assists in 20 minutes."I wish I could coach him better. I'm struggling with that," Turgeon said of Len. "It seems like he's always in foul trouble. ... Usually when we win, Alex plays pretty well - at least defensively. That's what we need out of him and we could've used that Saturday. I wish Alex could be more consistent."

That has made even coming up with a starting lineup a difficult proposition.

Turgeon said when writing out his first five Monday, he couldn't put a fifth one down.

"I'm like, 'Gosh, I'm just giving it to the guy.' I don't like that. I like when guys earn it," he said. "I'll pull it out of a hat maybe. They're all going to play. They have to and they've got to play better."

But going up against such a large and unorthodox big man like Johnson might prove problematic if the recent woes continue.

"I think we've got to go at him defensively," senior center Berend Weijs said. "He's 280 pounds, so he might be a little slow on his feet, and if we can get him foul trouble, that will help us out."

Senior Sean Mosley described Saturday's game as the worst the team has played all year. He looks at another quick turnaround as a positive.

"The good thing is we don't have four or five days until we have another game," he said. "So we need to just come out here, practice today and get prepared for Miami. Hopefully we get a win there and after that, the Virginia game is out of my mind."

NOTE: Maryland athletics officials confirmed Monday that the department has decided not to schedule games with Georgetown in any sports beyond this season until the schools come to an agreement on something for men's basketball. The Terrapins and Hoyas haven't faced each other locally in men's hoops since 1993 at USAir Arena. Turgeon indicated he'll work with Georgetown coach John Thompson III on it and he hopes there will be a game between the teams in the future when the Terps "get a little better."

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