WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said Friday that it's too early to turn the page on this season and predicted that — unlike last year — the Terps will be selected for a postseason tournament.
"I don't know what postseason we're going to play in," Turgeon said as Maryland (19-9, 7-8 Atlantic Coast Conference) prepared to play Wake Forest (12-15, 5-10) on Saturday at noon.
"Ideally we're still chasing the big one [the NCAA tournament]," Turgeon said. "But what we're trying to do is just play better."
Maryland has missed the postseason two years in a row. Its absence from a tournament in the 2010-11 season marked the first time since 1992-93 that it wasn't selected for either the NCAA tournament or the National Invitation Tournament.
The Terps last played in the NIT — a possible destination this season — in 2007-08 and made the NCAA tournament the next two seasons under former coach Gary Williams.
Maryland — and particularly its fans — had high expectations for this season. Turgeon has said hopes may have been inflated beyond reason, particularly since the team is relying on a number of players — including four freshmen — who weren't with the program last season.
"We're young," he said Friday in a media conference call. "I hate making excuses, I really do. You look at all the young teams — they're pretty good at home and not very good on the road."
The Terps have won just one road game in the ACC this season (at Virginia Tech) and two overall. They are 16-2 at home.
"Am I disappointed? Yeah. I think we should have more than two wins on the road," Turgeon said.
Maryland has been hampered by inconsistent point guard play, particularly on the road. That problem has nagged Turgeon all season. A former Kansas point guard, he can't tolerate poor decision-making by his primary ball handlers.
On Feb. 23, Wake Forest snapped Miami's 14-game conference winning streak with an 80-65 upset at Lawrence Joel Coliseum.
Wake Forest enters Saturday's game ranked 11th of 12 ACC teams in rebounding. That could play to Maryland's strength.
Among Turgeon's preseason goals was for the Terps to end the season at plus-six or plus-seven in its rebounding margin. At plus-9.6, the Terps lead the ACC.
But Maryland has been outrebounded in its last two road games. The Terps seem to still be learning how to sustain effort away from home.
"Being young? That's not an excuse," freshman center Shaquille Cleare said. "We have to be more consistent. There's a lot of teams in the country with freshmen getting it done. We have all the manpower at every position. We have to put it together now."