The Terps looking to move past a disappointing season and a less-than-enjoyable offseason.
Two years after Maryland men's basketball fans were filled with hope for a team led by a projected lottery pick in the NBA draft and a recruiting class considered one of the most promising in the country, a different sense filled Xfinity Center on Friday night.
The Terps are starting over after a disappointing season and a less-than-enjoyable offseason.
If coach Mark Turgeon isn't quite defiant, he certainly is happy with the freshman class and senior transfer Richaud Pack, who are expected to replace the five players who transferred last spring. The Terps finished last season 17-15 overall, with an overtime loss to Florida State in the school's last Atlantic Coast Conference tournament stopping Maryland short of a postseason berth.
After a message on the arena's new state-of-the-art videoboard pledged that his team will play "hard" and "smart" — something that wasn't often the case last season — Turgeon emerged from a telephone booth Friday night, ripping open his suit jacket to reveal a T-shirt underneath with an "M" on the chest.
"We sat down as a team and talked about everything we will do," Turgeon said after the event, attended by a few thousand fans and some of Maryland's top recruits, including five-star center Diamond Stone and junior-college guard Jaylen Brantley. "There's a lot more than was just on that board. Our motto is, 'We will. We will do it together. We will play defense. We will rebound. We will share the board.' I can go on and on."
The 10-minute scrimmage also showed that the Terps will play at a faster pace than they did in the first three years under Turgeon, the result of switching to a motion offense and bringing in players such as McDonald's All-American Melo Trimble, who will run the show as the team's starting point guard.
Picked by many to finish in the bottom half of the Big Ten Conference in the school's inaugural season in the league, Turgeon and his players are hoping to silence the doubters and skeptics who point to the departure of five scholarship players after last season as a sign of a program in turmoil.
They want to show that the team is hungrier and more focused than it has been, particularly last season.
"It's great to see that everyone wants to work hard, which I think we've missed on a little bit the past couple of years," said junior forward Jake Layman, the lone remaining member of the 2012 recruiting class that, along with eventual No. 5 overall pick Alex Len, failed to meet lofty expectations. "It's good for the veterans like me, Dez [Wells] and Evan [Smotrycz] to see how hard the young guys want to work and how much they want to get better."
Trimble, who attended the past two Maryland Madness events while he was being recruited, said every preseason practice has been finished with both the words "We got team." Trimble said Turgeon has been "really hard" on his players in practice.
"He wants us to be ready for this year," Trimble said.
There's a different sense about the women's team, coming off a season in which the Terps knocked off top-seeded Tennessee en route to the Final Four, where Maryland lost to Notre Dame. The two teams will meet again in South Bend, Ind., in December in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.
Coach Brenda Frese made it clear that it won't be the Terps who must adjust to their new league, but rather the new league to Maryland, which was picked in the preseason poll to win the Big Ten. Frese told the crowd as much, pointing to the court as she said it for emphasis.
Asked whether her message was planned, Frese said: "Of course it was. I just wanted to welcome everyone here in front of the best fans in the country."
Note: Smotrycz did not play in the scrimmage after "badly" spraining his left ankle in practice Friday, the team announced. Turgeon said the injury will be re-evaluated on Saturday.