Baltimore has plenty of basketball talent at the grassroots level, but that’s not what Saturday’s game against Princeton at Royal Farms Arena will be about for Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon.
It’s going to be about the people in the seats.
“We recruit Baltimore. We’re going to continue to recruit Baltimore,” he said during a conference call on Friday. “We’re going to hopefully have plenty of Baltimore players in our system in the future.
“But our fans, I go over to Baltimore, the fans over there make me feel great. I go to an Orioles game or a Ravens game, there’s tons of Maryland fans over there so this is for them, their town, come over there, bring the Terps to Baltimore.”
Efforts of late by the university have attempted to extend the brand northward, with the football team playing at M&T Bank Stadium against West Virginia in 2013 and against Penn State in 2015.
At the time earlier this year, then-interim football head coach Mike Locksley echoed a lot of the same sentiments about fan engagement as Turgeon did on Friday. Prior to Saturday's game, the basketball team has not played in Baltimore since it faced Iowa during the 1999-2000 season.
There are no Maryland players currently on the roster from Baltimore, but the program has recruited there in the past. Former Terrapins guard Nick Faust, who has since transferred to Long Beach State, is from the city.
On the coaching staff, perhaps the most beloved player in program history, Juan Dixon, is a special assistant for Turgeon and a native of Baltimore.
“It’s a new environment in Baltimore. We’ll have a great crowd,” Turgeon said. “Should have our guys up and ready to play Saturday night.”