Maryland Terps

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'We're not a bad team' -- On resiliency after trouble in February


'We're not a bad team' -- On resiliency after trouble in February

COLLEGE PARK -- Back-to-back losses in December eventually get hidden by the passage of time in a long college basketball season. Back-to-back losses in February sound alarms.

The optics are less favorable. Polls react, often harshly.

That is where Mark Turgeon finds himself and his team, coming off losses to Wisconsin and Minnesota, with Michigan coming to College Park on Sunday. The first true stumbling block of the season came less than a month before the start of the NCAA tournament.

“I think the timing’s perfect,” Turgeon said Saturday. “To be honest with you, it hurt us for our chance to win a league championship. We still can do it, but I think the timing’s really good for us.”

Three games against NCAA tournament teams are ahead for Maryland in the next four overall. That includes rematches against the Wolverines at home -- a team that already beat the Terrapins in Ann Arbor -- and a Purdue team on the road that gave Maryland a battle in College Park.

This is a team that, over the course of the season, has seemed to play better teams more competitively, even in losses like against North Carolina and Michigan State, while struggling to put away lesser teams, like in close wins over Rider and Penn State or Thursday’s loss to Minnesota.


In that regard, perhaps Turgeon is correct.

But the optics are the force most difficult to fight, though if you ask Turgeon or players they will say outside noise means little in day-to-day preparation. This is a team that only had a handful of high-quality wins, but was still talked about favorably in the national conversation because of its lack of a bad loss.

Now there is a bad loss. The Terrapins become one of just two teams in the Top 25 with a loss to a sub-200 RPI team.

“We knew at some point we were going to have adversity. Every team goes through it over the course of a long year," senior guard Rasheed Sulaimon said. "I’d rather have it now than in March.

“We’re not a bad team, we just got to remember who we are and get back to the certain principles that we were doing when we were 22-3.”

Junior center Damonte Dodd said the team’s plane ride home was difficult. Since, the team has tried to embrace Turgeon’s mantra that the sun will indeed rise tomorrow. Slowly but surely, laughter and camaraderie are making a return after Thursday’s loss.

“They’re disappointed, they’re upset, they want to do better,” Turgeon said. “But I want them to do better because they want to do better -- not because the expectations on them are so high.

“We’re still 22-5. A lot of coaches in the country would kill to be where I am right now.”

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Maryland basketball unveils plans for new performance center

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Maryland basketball unveils plans for new performance center

The Terps were the only team in the Big Ten without a performance center dedicated specifically for basketball. That's about to change.

Maryland Athletics announced Tuesday a fundraising campaign to build a new Basketball Performance Center. The facility, totaling 60,000 square feet, would be home to both the men's and women's basketball teams.

The athletic department has already raised $19 million of the estimated $36 million needed to complete the project. With Tuesday's launch of the public phase of the fundraising campaign, the remaining $17 million will be funded through donations and athletic department revenues.

"It is our vision that with a new Basketball Performance Center, the university will continue its ascent in the Big Ten Conference and provide our teams with the infrastructure they need to continue striving for championships,” Athletics Director Damon Evans said at the event. “This new center will help provide a transformative experience for our student-athletes, giving them an unmatched opportunity to become top collegiate basketball players."

Maryland is one of only four schools to have won a championship in both men's and women's basketball, the men in 2002 under Gary Williams, and the women in 2006 under Brenda Frese, who's entering her 18th season with the Terps. She was named head coach of the women's team the day after the men won the National Championship in 2002. Both she and men's head coach Mark Turgeon spoke Tuesday.

“This training facility will keep both our basketball programs ahead of the curve and at the top of their games,” Frese said. “We always strive to be the best and this facility will represent that. In my 17 years at Maryland, the support we've received is incredible and I know our fans will love seeing our programs work out of the best facility in the country.”

The women's team is ranked No. 5 heading into the season, is returning all five starters and is adding the No. 3 recruiting class in the country as they try to defend their Big Ten regular-season title.

"The addition of a performance center will have an immeasurable impact on our basketball program as we strive to provide a first-class experience for our student-athletes,” Turgeon said. “The facility will upgrade nearly every facet of our program, further elevating our status in the national basketball landscape."

The men's team is a consensus top-10 team and returns every contributor from last year's team other than Bruno Fernando. The Terps will be led by senior point guard Anthony Cowan and Jalen Smith, who was a Big Ten All-Freshman honoree last season.

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Are the Terps a Top 10 team? This 2019-20 preseason Top 25 poll says 'yes'

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Are the Terps a Top 10 team? This 2019-20 preseason Top 25 poll says 'yes'

Maryland basketball's season ended in disappointing fashion last season as Tremont Waters sank the Terps with a last-second layup in the Round of 32 of the NCAA Tournament. Even still, NBC Sports College Basketball Talk's Preseason Top 25 has Maryland as the No. 9 team entering the season.

Sights immediately turned toward this coming season. Four freshmen enter the mix in Donta Scott, Chol Marial and Makhi and Makhel Mitchell. The first is a fill-it-up wing scorer from Philadelphia, the last two, twin 6-foot-9 big men from Washington, D.C. who wanted to stay home. Marial is a 7-foot, one-time top player in the nation who's been hampered by lower-body injuries. He'll miss time to start the season.

It won't be easy, but Marial and the twins will be tasked with replacing some of what the Terps are losing from now-Atlanta Hawk Bruno Fernando. Last year, Fernando averaged 13.6 points and 10.6 rebounds per game. His production will be missed, but he's the Terps' only significant departure.

Here's a full breakdown of the Terps' roster:

  • WHO’S GONE: Bruno Fernando
  • WHO’S BACK: Anthony Cowan, Jalen Smith, Serrel Smith Jr., Eric Ayala, Aaron Wiggins, Ricky Lindo, Darryl Morsell
  • WHO’S COMING IN: Chol Marial, Makhi Mitchell, Makhel Mitchell, Donta Scott
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Anthony Cowan, Eric Ayala, Aaron Wiggins, Ricky Lindo, Jalen Smith

The length of that 'who's back' line is almost as important as who's on it. Seven key contributors return, including senior point guard Anthony Cowan and sophomore big man Jalen Smith. The team will likely go as far as the two of them can carry it. Aaron Wiggins could be the x-factor that takes this team from a competitive, top-25 team to a dangerous, top-10 team. He's got all the talent and mentality to become a top-scorer on a great team. It's not always that simple, though.

There is nothing riskier than going all-in on a team coached by Mark Turgeon, but here we are. - Rob Dauster

This could be a make or break year for Mark Turgeon. He has one of the most talented rosters in the country. The last time the Terps entered the season with a Top 10 team, they never lived up to the hype. Another lackluster performance this season could heat up the hot seat for Turgeon.

But the big story is the 1-2 punch of Cowan and Smith and the depth that surrounds them. If they can put it all together, the Terps could make some noise in College Park this season.