Before the Maryland men’s basketball team played Butler earlier this season, Mark Turgeon said the visiting Bulldogs had an advantage over the Terps because they had gone on a tour to Spain last summer. Turgeon didn’t bring it up after Maryland beat Butler at Xfinity Center in the Gavitt Tipoff Games.
When Maryland opened its Big Ten schedule a couple of weeks later, Turgeon again brought up that Purdue had represented the United States in the World University Games in Lithuania, as the Maryland women had done in Taiwan. After the unranked (now No. 3) Boilermakers beat the Terps, Turgeon talked about how they “were into their February playbook” while Maryland was just delving in its own.
There should be no such excuses offered at the beginning of next season. While it has yet to be announced, a source told The Baltimore Sun on Thursday that Maryland will go to Italy in early August for a nine-day tour, with stops in Rome, Florence, Venice and Como. The dates and opponents have yet to be finalized.
It will mark the first time Turgeon has taken his team off the continental U.S. since the Terps went to the Bahamas in 2013. That was supposed to be a homecoming for then sophomore center Shaquille Cleare, who spent part of his childhood in the Bahamas but wound up not playing because of a reported back injury.
Given the struggles the Terps have had recently, and that their chances of a fourth straight NCAA tournament appearance seem to be dwindling with each Big Ten loss, getting extra games and practices next summer will be good for a team that will lose three seniors and add at least three freshmen, including McDonald’s All American Jalen Smith (Mount Saint Joseph).