Maryland men's basketball coach Mark Turgeon used to bemoan the long breaks in the schedule, for fear that his Terps would lose focus. Even Turgeon admitted that Maryland's first Big Ten bye could not have come at a better time.
When the 17th-ranked Terps take the court at Xfinity Center on Wednesday night against Penn State, they will not have played since their 80-56 defeat at Ohio State on Thursday.
"This is great timing. We probably could have used a game or two earlier [to have the bye]," Turgeon said Monday on the Big Ten coaches' teleconference. "It's been good for us.
"We've been able to regroup, talk about a lot of things, we've had some great practices, I've given them some time off. We have been able to work on us instead of diving into another game, another scouting report."
Turgeon gave the Terps off Friday and Sunday, had them practice twice on Saturday and didn't start scouting the Nittany Lions until Monday before implementing the game plan at practice.
"It's a nice break for the players from one scouting report to the next game," said Turgeon, whose team dropped just one spot in the AP poll. "Sometime it gets old, the travelling, the work, the grind and every game is tough that we play."
Turgeon said that it is also "beneficial" for players with their academic workloads. The Terps will have their second "bye" between playing Nebraska on Feb. 19 and Wisconsin on Nov. 24, both at home.
It is not clear what changes, if any, Turgeon will make after the most one-sided loss of the season.
Turgeon put senior guard Richaud Pack back in the starting lineup for the first time in three weeks against the Buckeyes to match up against freshman D'Angelo Russell.
Early on, Pack did a good job on Russell, who broke loose later in the first half with back-to-back 3-pointers while guarded by others. On one, he was fouled by fellow freshman Melo Trimble for a 4-point play.
Turgeon wouldn't say whether Pack or 6-foot-7 freshman Jared Nickens, who came off the bench at Ohio State, would start Wednesday night against the Nittany Lions.
A lot might hinge on whether Turgeon wants Pack to start the game on Penn State senior guard D.J. Newbill, who leads the Big Ten in scoring (21.5 points per game), or whether he'll use Nickens or senior guard Dez Wells in that matchup.
"Whether he'll start or come of the bench, I don't know that as we move forward," Turgeon said of Pack. "I'll know Wednesday what we're going to do, but they're both obviously huge parts of what we're trying to do."
Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said on the teleconference that he expects Maryland (18-4, 6-3 Big Ten) to be a diffferent team than it showed – or no-showed – against Ohio State.
Chambers' Nittany Lions (14-8, 2-7) had won two straight to break a six-game losing streak before falling at Illinois on Saturday, 62-60.
That Illinois team was coming in off a full week's rest.
"[The Terps] didn't play their best game against Ohio State and they have a week off. That's not a good recipe [for the next opponent]," Chambers said. "They're going to have fresh minds, fresh legs. They've been practicing and prepared to get better. It's going to be a great challenge for us, no question."