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Maryland's unplanned bus trip from Chapel Hill might bond team ahead of Saint Francis game

The Maryland men's basketball team couldn't fly out immediately after Tuesday's 89-81 loss at North Carolina because its private plane got grounded due to fog.

Nor could the No. 2 Terps fly out early Wednesday morning after their first road game of the season — and first loss — as the fog shrouded the airport in Raleigh, N.C. It was time for a back-to-basics bus trip returning to campus.

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The nearly five-hour drive was spent decompressing after the loss to the No. 9 Tar Heels, catching up on sleep and studies, as well as doing some early preparation for Friday's game against Saint Francis (Pa.) at Xfinity Center.

Asked if the bus ride reminded him of when he started his head coaching career at Jacksonville (Ala.) State 17 years ago, Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said, "It was old school. It just wasn't planned. We played it at Jacksonville State. It is what is. Maybe it will toughen us up a little bit."

Turgeon said that he spent about 45 minutes talking with the team on the bus, though there was also an unplanned stop at a Walmart outside Raleigh.

"We had to get some stuff to burn a DVD so we could watch it," Turgeon said. "We watched it in the back. We had to have a guy in the front rewinding every time we pointed at him. We had to be creative. We got done what we had to get done."

Sophomore guard Jaylen Brantley said the impromptu bus trip "definitely did bring a lot of memories" of last season, when he played at Oddessa College in Texas.

"We drove everywhere — eight hours, five hours, an hour, two hours," Brantley said. "It was tough, but I was used to it. Tough for other guys who might be spoiled flying charters."

Brantley said that the team used its time together to bond and study both in terms of academics and basketball.

"Yesterday helped us a lot, made us a little tougher in a sense. Probably people don't understand, but sitting on a bus for five hours, dwelling off a loss, is really tough," Brantley said. "I think we're going to handle it well, getting better in the next game."

Said junior forward Robert Carter, "Looking at it positively, we continue to build relationships with each other and learn about each other. Watching the film, we just learned from that [North Carolina] game and it will make us a better team, one game at a time."

Unlike the game two weeks ago against Rider, which followed an emotional win over Georgetown, and Saturday's game against Cleveland State, which followed the Cancun Challenge championship win over Rhode Island, the Terps can't look past Saint Francis between the Tar Heels and Tuesday's game against Connecticut at Madison Square Garden in New York.

"I hope not, we talk about how we have to respect our opponent," Turgeon said. "We talked about it yesterday. Hopefully we will ... .I think we learned from the Rider game and the Cleveland State game that we need to be better prepared to be successful."

Turgeon is realistic about his team's first loss, but is not making any excuses knowing that the Terps had a chance to win if they had turned the ball over less at the beginning of the game and taken better shots at the end.

"It's a good team. It was on the road. There's a lot of things that we can do better," he said. "You try to get better and carry those things into Friday night's game and concentrate on those things, everything else will take care of itself."

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