Maryland’s recent slump has not been a total shock to second-year coach Mark Turgeon. When he looked at the schedule before the season, Turgeon saw how difficult the first half of the Atlantic Coast Conference slate might unfold for a young team.
"That was a big concern of mine," Turgeon said Monday, before Maryland practiced for Tueday's 9 p.m. game against Boston College at Comcast Center. "No matter how hard you coach young kids, the league's new. The beginning of the league schedule was a big concern to the staff and how we were going to handle it."
Maryland has been erratic, at best, its cold shooting and a lack of veteran leadership of late contributing to three losses in four games. Turgeon is clearly disappointed with the way the Terps came out in the first half of Saturday's 62-52 loss at North Carolina, and he feels even worse about his team giving one away in the second half of a 65-62 loss at home to Florida State on Jan. 9.
"We didn't care of business in one home already, so it puts us even further behind than we were already," Turgeon s aid.
Truth is, as hard as the first half the ACC schedule with games at Miami (17th in the Sagarin ratings and now 25th in the country), and how hard it could be when the Terps go back on the road Saturday at Duke (ranked second in the country and third in by Sagarin), the second half could help Maryland secure its first postseason bid in three years. (I'm saying the NIT looks more likely than an NCAA bid right now.)
Maryland plays Wake Forest (138) at home Feb. 2, at Virginia Tech (134) in Blacksburg on Feb. 7., and after playing Virginia (59) at home on Feb. 10 and Duke six days later in College Park, the Terps play at Boston College (123) at home against Clemson (75) on Feb. 13 then at Georgia Tech (100) and Wake Forest.
Turgeon, whose team is No. 53 in the Sagarin rankings, is trying to get his players to look neither back nor ahead.
Turgeon's theme for the Boston College game is "Next Play."
"We've got guys that will hang their head and never snap out of it. It's like, 'C'mon, next one, next one. Just snap out of it and try as hard as you can," Turgeon said. "A lot of coaches do that, a lot of teams do that [in picking a motivational theme]. That's where we are right now. So you don't think about what's going on and just think about the next play."