Young Maryland team gets first true road test at Michigan

COLLEGE PARK — Maryland coach Mark Turgeon understands that a team with three freshman starters will have its share of growing pains, the kinds the Terps experienced with Sunday's late meltdown against Nebraska at Xfinity Center.

With those less-than-pleasant first-time experiences, Turgeon hopes his relatively young team will also show the kind of resilience that will make the Terps more battle-tested if the same situation repeats itself in another Big Ten game.


"I think you can tell if you're competitive or not. We've had a great week, a great team meeting, talked about why we lost the game, and what we could do to prevent it, then we watched film and then we talked about things moving forward," Turgeon said Friday after practice. "It was really positive. It's how you respond on the court."

The Maryland basketball team has spent its season living on the edge, winning more than half of its 13 victories with second-half comebacks.

So how will Maryland (13-2, 1-1) react to its first true road game of the season Saturday at Michigan (11-4, 1-1)?


Turgeon is anxious to find out.

"Michigan's a heckuva team, really good guards and a really good coach and the building should be full, it's a Saturday afternoon. We'll see, it'll be another challenge for us," Turgeon said before the team left for Ann Arbor.

"But we're prepared for it. Whether we've been on the road or at home, we're prepared. We've gotten better defensively, we've gotten better with our execution. … There are some challenges that our guys haven't seen, but I think our guys will step up to it."

This is the longest the Terps have gone without a true road game under Turgeon since his first season, when Maryland lost its ACC opener at North Carolina State. Two years ago, the Terps won their first Big Ten game at Michigan State after winning at Oklahoma State.

Though a win over Georgetown at the Verizon Center in the Gavitt Tipoff Games on Nov. 15 was officially a road game for Maryland, Turgeon and his players understand that this will mark the first time the Terps have played without many of their fans in attendance.

"It'll definitely be different," senior center Damonte Dodd said in an interview Wednesday. "Guys on this team have been playing basketball ever since they were young. I feel like these guys on this team are just going to go out there and play because that's what they do. I don't think a crowd or anything is really going to scare them."

Road teams have won eight of 18 Big Ten games so far, and there would have been an even split had the Wolverines not come back from a 14-point deficit Wednesday to beat Penn State at the Crisler Center.

Going into Sunday’s game against Nebraska, Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said he wanted freshman Kevin Huerter to become more aggressive offensively.

Turgeon said freshman starters Anthony Cowan, Kevin Huerter and Justin Jackson won't be fazed by playing away from the Xfinity Center.

"These guys haven't been fazed by anything that's been thrown at 'em," Turgeon said. "I'm not expecting them to be fazed tomorrow. Will all three of them play a perfect game? No, but I don't expect them to be fazed by the environment. In fact, I think they'll thrive on it. And that's the kind of kids you want to have on your roster."

Said Cowan, "I really haven't felt I've played in a road environment yet. I was talking to the other freshmen, we just talked about how we were excited to actually see how it is first-hand. We're just excited for the game."

Cowan said he and Huerter watched Michigan's comeback win over Penn State on television to get a feel for both the Wolverines as well as the Crisler Center. Cowan took particular notice when Michigan roared back to win.

"We just heard when they were making their run how loud the gym was," Cowan said.


Maryland coach Mark Turgeon has often said players who've been sitting out with injuries are the final judges when it comes to returning to the court, even after being given the OK to play by the team's doctor or trainer.

Dodd recalled getting on the court at Cameron Indoor Stadium to play Duke for the first time as a freshman.

"It was something I had never seen," Dodd said. "I think it's fun. I love hearing people boo and stuff like that. It kind of gets me going."

As for this year's freshmen, Dodd smiled.

"I think they're way more mature than when I was a freshman," he said.

NOTES: The Terps are 2-0 in Big Ten road openers, having also beaten Northwestern last season. ... Turgeon said junior center Michal Cekovsky will miss his third straight game with an ankle injury, but is progressing well and could be ready to play Tuesday against Indiana at Xfinity Center.


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