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Maryland Midnight Madness: 5 things you need to know

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Maryland Midnight Madness: 5 things you need to know

COLLEGE PARK -- Saturday afforded the first public opportunity to see the best men’s basketball team Maryland has fielded since it won the national championship in 2002.

Head coach Mark Turgeon, obscured behind a veil before his introduction, appeared with overhead pyrotechnics going off. He was given a microphone and spoke to the crowd.

“It’s magic,” he said. “See that? It’s magic.”

Here are five things you need to know from Saturday night in College Park.

1) The energy is there

I arrived at XFINITY Center around 4:30 p.m. and there was already a line that snaked out the side door and along the backside of the arena, fans waiting in line for an autograph session that had just begun.

Last season’s edition of this event seemed, at its core, to be a chance for Mark Turgeon to sell belief in his program. When the conversation centered around how many wins he needed to keep his job, he reiterated his love for that team and how he thought the 2014-15 season would be a fun one.

It was. And now the Terrapins no longer fly under the radar of expectations. Energy and turnout matched those expectations on Saturday.

2) Magic is the theme

Maryland legend Walt “The Wizard” Williams began the night’s festivities as the emcee, wizard hat and all to fit the “magic” theme. An Oklahoma City-based magician performed his routine, highlighted by the disappearance of his assistant, only for her to reappear in a Maryland jersey.

Crowd goes wild.

3) A standing ovation for Brenda Frese

Entering the 2015-16 season coming off of two straight Final Fours, Frese was introduced with her two sons after her team took the floor moments prior. Fans at XFINITY Center gave her a standing ovation.

4) The star of the show

Coming into the season as the Big Ten Preseason Player of the Year, Melo Trimble has the same level of personal expectations as this team does as a whole.

You’d almost expect it. He received the most raucous round of applause of any of the Maryland players during introductions, being both the star of the team and a star in the league.

5) “A chance to be real special”

Turgeon addressed the crowd after his introduction, talking mostly about expectations and the hard work that his team has put in in spite of those expectations.

“When I took the job on May 10, a long time ago, this is what I envisioned for Maryland basketball,” he said. “This team has a chance to be real special.”

Why? We started to see why in the brief time we saw them on Saturday. Five-star freshman Diamond Stone has cut weight and looks significantly trimmed down from his time in high school. The same for Robert Carter.

Sophomore big man Michal Cekovsky and junior center Damonte Dodd both look to have added upper body strength.

During the team’s scrimmage, Carter looked strong. He had a jump hook in the lane that was good and a faceup midrange jumper that he sank. He also blocked a shot, snatched it out of the air, and started the fast break.

Dion Wiley hit a three. Diamond Stone had a nice up-and-under finish near the rim. Melo Trimble had a nice layup, and one. He also hit a three.

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Investigation finds Maryland culpable in death of player

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USA Today

Investigation finds Maryland culpable in death of player

TOWSON, Md. -- An independent investigation into the death of University of Maryland football player Jordan McNair has determined that trainers on the scene did not follow proper procedures after he collapsed on the field.

McNair was hospitalized on May 29 after a team workout and died June 13. The family attorney said the cause of death was heatstroke.

Dr. Rod Walters, a former college athletic trainer and sports medicine consultant who led the investigation launched by the school following McNair's death, said Friday "there was a failure to identify symptoms and aggressively treat it."

Maryland athletic director Damon Evans acknowledged last month that "mistakes were made" by the training staff in the treatment of McNair, a 19-year-old sophomore offensive lineman. University President Wallace Loh visited McNair's parents to offer a personal apology for how the situation was handled.

The report released Friday stated that there appeared to be a failure to recognize the severity of the incident and that when the severity was identified, inadequate cooling devices were used in place of cold water immersion or cold whirlpools.

Terrapins head coach DJ Durkin is on administrative leave while an unrelated external investigation into the culture of the football program is being conducted.

According to the report, Durkin was on the scene when McNair collapsed. His role in the events that followed was not made clear.

Much of Walters' report focused on recommendations that would enable a tragedy like this from happening again.

In a release issued before the news conference began, the university wrote: "We made immediate changes following Jordan's death and have continued to make enhancements informed by the preliminary observations of the external review we received this summer."

The list of changes already implemented, according to the school, include an increase in doctors and training at practices and games; additional on-site cooling stations to football training camp and practices consisting of portable spray misters, recovery drinks and cooling towels; and increasing the number and length of recovery breaks.

Officials say the changes were made after receiving preliminary observations of Walker's findings.

Maryland athletic director Damon Evans acknowledged last month that "mistakes were made" by the training staff in the treatment of McNair, a 19-year-old sophomore offensive lineman.

Loh was very candid last month when talking about the school's role in McNair's death.

"They entrusted their son to us, and he did not return home," Loh said of McNair's parents. "The University accepts legal and moral responsibility for the mistakes that were made on that fateful day. ... They misdiagnosed the situation."

On that day, the law firm of Murphy, Falcon & Murphy, which represents the McNair family, wrote in a statement: "While Marty and Tonya will never get another day with Jordan, Dr. Loh's words were meaningful to them and give them some comfort that he will put the University on the path to change the culture of the program so that no Terrapin family will have to endure the heartache and grief that they feel."

In the wake of McNair's death, an ESPN story reported that the coaching staff engaged in physical and mental abuse of the players.

Durkin was placed on administrative leave on Aug. 11. Strength and conditioning coach Rick Court resigned two days later, and head trainer Wes Robinson, along with Steve Nordwall, an assistant athletic director for training, remain on administrative leave.

Loh distinguished between training staff and coaching staff when he spoke about mistakes that led to McNair's death, but added the reports of "bullying behavior" by football coaches "are totally inconsistent with what we stand for, and our values."

The Walters review was one of two separate ongoing investigations being overseen by the Board of Regents. In addition, an eight-member commission has been appointed to look into the culture of the football program.

That investigation is ongoing.

"The Board of Regents is committed to uncovering all the discoverable facts about Jordan McNair's tragic death, and separately, the culture of the football program," Board of Regents Chair James Brady said.

Offensive coordinator Matt Canada has been serving as interim coach. Maryland is 2-1 heading into Saturday's Big Ten opener against Minnesota at home.

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Vernon Davis writes a letter to the Maryland Terrapins football team in the Players' Tribune

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USA Today Sports Images

Vernon Davis writes a letter to the Maryland Terrapins football team in the Players' Tribune

The 2018 Maryland football team was faced with a hardship that no team ever dreams of going through. Having to overcome the pain of losing their teammate Jordan McNair, then taking the field in competition is an obstacle that no one understands until they face it themselves.

And former Maryland Terrapin Vernon Davis wants the team to know how proud he is of them.

Davis, a current tight end for the Washington Redskins, took to the Players' Tribune to write to the Maryland football team.

He called the touching letter, 'For Jordan'.

In the piece he wrote: 

Ever since the final whistle of that truly incredible Week 1 victory over Texas, I’ve found myself thinking about you guys a lot — about what you all must be going through in dealing with the loss of your teammate Jordan McNair just three months ago, and how difficult everything must be. Eventually, over the past few weeks, I got to the point where I decided that I wanted to sit down and write something to the team.

There are a bunch of things I want to say here. But the most important one, by far, is just to let you all know that….

I couldn’t be more proud of you guys.

Davis continued, talking about their emotional victory over the Texas Longhorns

Losing a teammate, a brother, the way that the Maryland football family lost Jordan this past summer was an unspeakably sad tragedy. I can only imagine the level of grief and heartache that each and every one of you has experienced. And after going through what you have, no one would’ve faulted you if you didn’t win a single game this year — at least not those of us who understand grief, and pain, and loss.

I mean, you could’ve lost 100 to nothing in that opening game at FedEx Field against the Longhorns on September 1 and … we would’ve understood.

But, well, that’s not what happened.

Instead, on that afternoon, even as you continued to hurt and mourn, you found in your sport the opportunity to create a positive, life-affirming moment.

At the same time, you also showed me, once again, just how special this university is to me. And why, after all these years, I still love Maryland with all my heart.

Playing three years with Maryland, Davis caught nine touchdowns with 1,371 yards. Because of his instant impact and averaging 16.5 yards per catch, he decided to forgo his senior season and head to the NFL. In 2006, he was drafted No. 6 overall by the San Francisco 49ers.

He concluded: 

...you’ve all already shown anyone paying attention the strength and heart and will of this team. So I have no doubt that you’re going to bounce back and finish the season strong. And as you’re going about that journey, you all — each and every one of you — need to know that it’s not just me who is proud of you.

You guys are inspiring people worldwide — Terp alums, for sure, but also just people who know what you’re going through and realize the fortitude that it takes to keep moving forward in the face of it all.

We see you. We’re proud of you. And … we believe in you.

So just keep doing the best you can. Stay together. Play the game with love. And always, no matter what, keep Jordan in your heart.

Because I’m pretty sure he’s proud of you, too.

Once a Terp, always a Terp,

Vernon

To read the 'For Jordan' letter in its entirety on the Players' Tribune, click here.

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