Maryland coach Mark Turgeon has proven a difficult guy to please during his two seasons in Collge Park, so it was a bit unusual to hear him speaking in such a positive tone after the Terps lost at Duke 84-64 on Saturday.
Even after breaking down the tape of the game, Turgeon said Monday that he was happy for the most part with Maryland's offensive execution given its recent struggles. The defense by the Terps was another matter.
"I thought we executed better. I thought we [handled] Duke's pressure," Turgeon said Monday on the ACC coaches teleconference. "Under the circumstances in that environment, for where we are as a team we are right now, I thought we handled it pretty well. I thought we executed pretty well. Our offense wasn't attrocious -- we scored 64 points. We just didn't guard them. They just made a lot of shots."
Among the other things Turgeon talked about:
** How freshman forward Charles Mitchell's best offensive game in nearly a month was negated in part by his defense. Mitchell finished with 13 points in 13 minutes and showed the same kind of tenacity on the offensive boards that he demonstrated earlier in the season.
"Offensively he was really good. He was equally not as good on the defensive end. That's why his minutes were shortened," Turgeon said. "He's got to help us more defensively than he did in that game. ... Hopefully he can continue to play with that aggressiveness on offense and can get a little better on the defensive end for us."
** How center Alex Len was held to only six shots against the Blue Devils, but it had as much to do with what the 7-1 sophomore isn't doing and the way the game unfolded as much as it was the way he was defended by Duke's big men. Len finished with only eight points.
"Duke did a pretty good job on him. We got a little bit behind and panicked offensively," Turgeon said. "And then he was being too finesse. ... Should he have touched the ball a little more? Probably so. Would it have made a difference in the end? Absolutely not. We've done a good job throwing Alex the ball this year. He's got to continue to get better, get a little bit tougher."
Turgeon also put some of Len's lack of touches on the fact that he won't call plays for Len if his big man doesn't do what he's supposed to in terms of setting screens and hitting the boards.
"A little bit of frustration on my part," Turgeon said.
** How Maryland's defense, which has been its strength for much of the season, had more than a few letdowns. The biggest problem was that the Terps came in focused on stopping senior center Mason Plumlee and senior guard Seth Curry, but it was freshman Rasheed Sulaimon who hurt the Terps the most.
Sulaimon hit his first five shots – all 3-pointers – and finished with a season-high 25 points on 9 of 12 shooting, including 6 of 8 on 3-pointers.
"We weren't expecting Sulaimon to come out and do that, obviously," Turgeon said. "We were supposed to guard Sulaimon the same way we guarded Curry. He hit one in transition, one on a defensive mistake and one on a four-point play (after getting fouled by Pe'Shon Howard). It really got him going. I thought we did a nice job on Curry. I thought Cook controlled the game. In the first half, I thought we did a good job on Plumlee.
"We made mistakes defensively. The ball went to the post and we made mistakes. We made some defensive mistakes that helped them. It was something we really drilled on for two days, so that was diappointing. It's one thing we usually do -- we dial into our defensive gameplan and guard. Give them credit because they were very, very good, but we also made some mistakes that got some guys going."