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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NBA Draft 2018: Maryland basketball's Justin Jackson drafted by Nuggets, traded to Magic

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NBA Draft 2018: Maryland basketball's Justin Jackson drafted by Nuggets, traded to Magic

Maryland basketball had two players drafted in one night for the second time in three years Thursday night when the Denver Nuggets picked Justin Jackson with the No. 43 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft.

Jackson was subsequently traded to the Orlando Magic as part of a deal that brought the No. 41 overall pick, Kentucky's Jarred Vanderbilt, to Denver.

After his freshman season, in which he averaged 10.5 points and six rebounds a game while shooting 43.8 percent from beyond the arc, Jackson declared for the draft without an agent, but elected to return to Maryland for his sophomore season. But he'd play just 11 games before being shutdown for the year with a torn labrum. His draft stock was hurt, but obviously not totally erased.

He had surgery in January and ended up being the first Terp to declare for the 2018 NBA Draft back in March. Though Jackson's recovery kept him out of the NBA Combine, teams were still intrigued by what they'd seen from him in the past to be willing to take a flyer.

A 6-foot-7 forward with a 7-foot-3 wingspan, Jackson has the skill to play anywhere between the two or the four in the NBA, and the length to guard all kinds of players.

With Kevin Huerter headed to the last-place Atlanta Hawks, Maryland basketball's two draftees are slated to join last season's two worst teams in the Eastern Conference.

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NBA Draft 2018: Atlanta Hawks draft Maryland basketball's Kevin Huerter with the No. 19 overall pick

NBA Draft 2018: Atlanta Hawks draft Maryland basketball's Kevin Huerter with the No. 19 overall pick

Maryland basketball's Kevin Huerter was drafted No. 19 overall Thursday night by the Atlanta Hawks.

He's the Terps' highest draft pick since the Phoenix Suns drafted Alex Len fifth overall in the 2013 NBA Draft.

Huerter played two seasons with Maryland, averaging 12 points, five rebounds and three assists as a Terp. He's best known for his knockdown shooting ability, as he knocked down 46.6 percent of his shots from the field, including 39.4 percent of his three-point shots. During his sophomore season, he was better than 50 percent from the field and better than 40 percent from deep.

Back in April, when Huerter first declared for the 2018 NBA Draft without an agent, it was widely assumed he was just testing the waters to get feedback from NBA scouts and would return to school for his junior season. But an outstanding performance at the NBA Combine saw his hardly existent draft stock skyrocket. Almost overnight, Huerter's name was popping up in the first round of mock drafts, and now what seemed like a no-brainer decision to return to school wasn't so clear.

On May 30, he announced that he would leave his name in the 2018 NBA Draft and hire an agent. He recently had surgery on a torn ligament in his hand, but is expected to miss only two months and make a full recovery by the time the 2018 NBA season starts.

With the Atlanta Hawks, Huerter should pick up right where he left off shooting in college, but can also provide high basketball IQ and sneaky athleticism. He and Trae Young join Dennis Schröder and Kent Bazemore who finished last in the Eastern Conference last season.