A year after losing at eventual national championVillanova, the Maryland men’s basketball team will take on Wake Forest in this season’s “secret scrimmage” Saturday at a neutral site in Richmond, Va., an athletic department source said Friday.
It will be Mark Turgeon’s first chance to see his team against outside competition. The lineup will feature six newcomers, five of whom are freshmen, as well as four new starters.
Maryland, which lost four starters from from last year's 27-9 team that reached the Sweet Sixteen, opens the regular season Nov. 11 against American at Xfinity Center.
The Terps had played Villanova two straight years in the closed scrimmage, reportedly beating the Wildcats prior to the start of the 2014-15 season on a last-second 3-pointer in overtime by former star Dez Wells in College Park. Details from last year’s scrimmage varied, though Villanova was reported to have won by double digits.
It’s not surprising that Turgeon scheduled the Demon Deacons, who are coached by former Kansas star Danny Manning. Turgeon and Manning are still close friends. Manning led the Jayhawks to the national championship a year after Turgeon graduated.
From a competitive standpoint, Wake Forest is clearly several steps down from Villanova. The Demon Deacons went 11-20 last season, Manning’s second in Winston-Salem, N.C., and were 2-16 in the ACC. They were picked to finish 13th in the 15-team league this season.
Turgeon and Manning had an interesting first meeting as coaches. It came three years ago when Manning was coaching at Tulsa. Maryland, coming off a home loss to Boston University, was struggling to put away Manning’s team when he reacted to a call by ACC ref Karl Hess.
Manning said after the game that all he said to Hess was “unbelievable” after the foul was called.
Hess, a longtime nemesis of Maryland dating to Gary Williams, issued two technical fouls to Manning, ejecting him. Leading 52-47 before the technicals, the Terps stretched their lead to 11 as Jake Layman hit four straight free throws and Seth Allen hit two more on the subsequent possession.
“I thought the technical helped us because it gave us a cushion, but I thought it also inspired them,” Turgeon, who gave his longtime friend a pat on the shoulder before he left the court, said at the time. “I don’t know if it changed things because it gave us four more points. It changes a lot I guess. I hated to see it.”
Turgeon tried to intervene after seeing the play that led to Manning’s ejection.
“I was trying to get Danny to stop because of who he was talking to as a referee,” Turgeon said. “I was hoping one of his assistants would grab him. I didn’t want him to get thrown [out]. I thought we were starting to play well and get control when it happened.”
There is no truth to the rumor that Hess, who was fired by the ACC during the 2014-15 season for directing a racial slur at a Wake Forest fan, will be one of the three officials in Richmond on Saturday. And here's another solid bet: Maryland's "secret scrimmage" opponent won't win the national championship.