COLLEGE PARK -- Exhale.
In the days following a thrilling but stressful 75-71 victory over Georgetown on Tuesday night in College Park, that is what head coach Mark Turgeon, the Maryland staff, and Maryland players have been able to do.
“Personally, I thought all the pressure was on us being the higher rated team and being in our building, they were coming off a loss and we played like it most of the game,” Turgeon told the media on Thursday.
“I feel like the weight of the world is off my shoulders now that that game’s over and we won -- that helps. It’s good to have that over with. I think we all just kind of put life on hold preparing for Georgetown and trying to win that game.”
Now Maryland resets and looks forward with Rider on Friday at XFINITY Center before the team travels to Mexico for two games as part of the 2015 Cancun Challenge -- Illinois State first, followed by either Rhode Island or TCU.
Turgeon continues to use the phrase “a work in progress” when he refers to his team and he’s right. After not being together for much of the summer, each week brings a more cohesive team. Georgetown aided in that effort.
“I think we learned a lot in that game,” Turgeon said, “and sometimes you can practice all you want, but you really need games to get better.
“We weren’t physically tough in that game, but we were mentally tough. We knew that we could make some changes during a game and be successful, which is great.”
You can’t simulate being down seven with six minutes to play in front of 18,000 in a rivalry game 20 years in the making. You can’t simulate a team unexpectedly dominating you inside and forcing you to go small to get back into the game.
But they are a better team for it and now they can proceed.
“We have a lot of talent, but we also have a lot of room for growth,” senior guard Rasheed Sulaimon, who hit a go-ahead three with 1:18 to go in that Georgetown win, said. “It’s mid-November. We’re still early in the season and our team has a long way to go.”