CHESTNUT HILL, MASS. — At least now we know why Maryland coach Mark Turgeon had been so reluctant to speculate about Maryland's NCAA prospects.
Even after the Duke win, Turgeon sensed there was far too much basketball left -- too much room for error -- to assume that his team had somehow turned a corner and was pointed toward the field of 68.
After watching Maryland's 69-58 loss to Boston College, you get the sense the Terps are a team that can get ahead of itself. The media and fans -- and I'm probably guilty of this – may have drawn too much significance from that emotional Duke game.
Absent its noisy homecourt advantage -- on a routine, rainy Tuesday night in Boston – Maryland wasn't up to the task of beating the Eagles. The Terps weren't yet ready to embrace success.
They are a middling team right now. They're neither reliably good nor reliably bad. They're inconsistent, which I guess is the definition of mediocrity. Turgeon often mentions how "young' his team is. He doesn't just mean chronologically. He means they act young.
Turgeon didn't seem merely upset about this loss, he seemed baffled. There Maryland was, up by seven points at the half on a night that was Logan Aronhalt's best as a Terp.
Consider how the first half ended. Dez Wells raced down court to block a layup by Boston College's Joe Rahon that had looked like a certain basket with one second left. Turgeon sprinted into the locker room – almost as fast as Wells had sprinted down the court— and let out a celebratory hoot. I don't think the coach imagined the Terps would lose at that point.
Turgeon was his usual animated self. In the second half, the coach practically picked up Pe'Shon Howard to get him back on the floor after the guard tumbled head-over-heels over a courtside table.
But, except for some positive moments with their full court pressure, the Terps were flat in the second half.
"Slow start – typical of us on the road," Aronhalt said. "Right before the half I hit a couple shots in a row and I thought that was a turning point."
But rather than put the Eagles away, the Terps lost focus. They surrendered key rebounds and got outhustled for loose balls. Turgeon considers such items as litmus tests.
Maryland had anticipated that the Eagles would double-team center Alex Len. But Len didn't respond well. Like many of his teammates, he seemed less energetic and decisive than the Eagles, who had six blocked shots (all by Eddie Odio).
For Maryland, this was like the Virginia game. It wasn't that the Terps lost that necessarily surprised the coach. It was how they lost.
"Start of the second half, James Padgett has a 3-point play opportunity, goes up weak – shoots an air ball six feet short. And that's your senior," Turgeon said.
"It just seemed like we were standing in quicksand all night – standing watching. They just seemed quicker to the ball all night. All night. First play of the game was a loose ball. They pick it up. They lay it in for a basket. I don't get it and it's hard for me. My team is a challenge every day to figure out what I'm going to get."