COLLEGE PARK -- Maryland has played with fire over its past two games and, if the trend continues, they run the risk of soon getting burned.
Despite beating both Georgetown and Rider this past week, the Terrapins trailed by seven points with 5:48 to play and 14 points with 16:19 to play, respectively. They battled back from both deficits, but is there a common thread between the two games?
“It’s not chemistry. It was effort tonight, it was paying attention to details tonight, and then a coach just not having them prepared,” Turgeon said after the win over Rider.
“I don’t see a common thread. We were nervous the other night to start, they weren’t. They made shots to start, we didn’t. We competed, so we know we have to get better. We understand it.”
In each of those two games, there seemed to be a separate thorn in Maryland’s side. Against Georgetown, it was the play of seven-footer Bradley Hayes and timely outside shooting. Against Rider, it was an inability to keep the Broncs out of the lane defensively and the inability to crack the defense’s zone on the other end of the floor.
But there still seems to be a sense of confidence that players projected after both wins. Senior Rasheed Sulaimon talked about the mood of the huddle late against Georgetown when upperclassmen kept repeating the message that they could still win the game.
Then, there was Layman after the Rider win.
“To me, the whole time I felt like we were all going to come back, but when we’re down 15, that’s not a good spot to be in,” he said. “We showed some good things at the end of the game, but we still have a lot to work on obviously.”
Maryland will refocus on its trip to Cancun this upcoming week. Illinois State is up first, a mid-major that the Terrapins should beat handily.
The major concern should be if Rhode Island beats TCU and the Terrapins meet the Rams in the tournament’s championship game.
Rhode Island lost star E.C. Matthews for the season to a knee injury, but that team is still packed with talent and led by one of the best young coaches in college basketball -- Dan Hurley.
Former Towson guard Four McGlynn is carrying the offense. Off-guard Jared Terrell was once an Oklahoma State commit. Forward Hassan Martin could start on a number of Power Five teams. Fellow forward Kuran Iverson was a Top 30 player nationally coming out of high school and for him it has always been about putting it all together.
The Rams are 2-1 on the year. Their loss? A three-point defeat at the hands of a Valparaiso team that is a favorite to win the Horizon League -- and pushed Maryland to the brink in last year's NCAA tournament.
Trail by double digits in the second half against that Rhode Island team and a win isn’t as much within reach.
“We’re three games in and we just have to get better,” Turgeon said. “We’ll keep working on it and hopefully get more consistent defensively and more consistent offensively.
“We’ve got to play better and that’s my job to get them playing better.”