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Terps coach Mark Turgeon talks about early-morning practices, state of the team

When former Temple basketball coach John Chaney used to hold practices starting at 6 a.m., a few of his colleagues tried to do the same. None of them continued with the very early start for long.

The earliest I had ever been to a basketball practice was for the end of one of Chaney’s practices years ago. That was until Monday, when I went to watch Maryland work out at 8 a.m. at Comcast Center.

Since part of the agreement with Mark Turgeon -- as with most coaches -- is that reporters can’t give any details about what went on in practice, I will let the third-year coach provide specifics about what went on. (I can say that the Terps were more wide awake than most college students at that hour.)

Here are some of Turgeon’s observations:

On the condition of sophomore center Shaquille Cleare’s back: 
Shaq was hurt forever. We’ve done all the tests. Everything checked out great. I think mentally in his mind he’s at ease now. He looks really good, he’s really rebounding, he’s physical. He’s become a much smarter defender. I think about where he was last year and where he is now, it’s night and day. I’m glad he’s healthy because we need him.  

On the benefits of starting practice early:
“I like it [for] a lot of reasons. Probably first and foremost, it keeps my guys pretty disciplined with their night life. Stay home, go to bed early, take care of their business, wake up. They’ve actually gotten in a nice routine. The first few mornings it was tough back in early September.  They’ve gotten used to it, they feel good about it…they’ve got the rest of their day. They go to class for about a four-hour period and then the have study hall, but they have the rest of the day to be somewhat normal, which I like. I think kids need to be college students too.

“Then in helps me recruiting. I’ll watch practice, put a practice plan together, then I can go recruit. I can even get on a plane and recruit and be back for tomorrow’s practice. We won’t go in the morning every day. We’re not going to do it all year. We’re just going to do it first semester…If you’re going to live in Maryland, let’s recruit it. This gives me an opportunity to do it. I’ve got young kids, it gives me a chance to eat dinner at home with my family a lot of nights. Selfishly, that’s a big part of it.”

On having practice over the summer in advance of a trip to the Bahamas: “We’re pretty far along. We got a lot of things going for us. We’ve got a lot of returning players. Even our non-scholarship players have been with us two or three years. We’re way ahead of the curve. It actually feels like it’s supposed to feel. The first year was the first year. Last year there were all those new bodies, a lot of young kids. We just have three freshmen ... and it really helped them having the tour. We’ve got a lot in, we got a lot done. The whole key for me is that I don’t overdo it.”

On freshman point guard Roddy Peters adjusting to playing in college: “I tell him all the time it’s not Suitland [High] anymore. Suitland had a good team, but Roddy had to do a lot of scoring for them…Practice is a little bit easier, but when the games start, is he going to be able to move on to the next play quicker.”

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