Terps' next road game is Jan. 13 vs. Miami
Over the next four weeks, the Maryland Terrapins will take final exams, observe the holidays and play six home games they should win with ease. Four of the teams have RPIs higher than 250. Three are from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. Two have winning records. Only one (Stony Brook) made a postseason tournament (NIT) last year and has an RPI (52) better than Maryland (67).
With the Terrapins (6-1) off to their best start in six years and on the verge of cracking the rankings for the first time in two seasons under Mark Turgeon, is this any way to prepare for the rigors of the ACC?
|UMES at Maryland|
|When » Wednesday, 7 p.m.|
|Where » Comcast Center|
|Radio » ESPN 980|
Last week Turgeon blamed himself for the lack of tougher opponents, saying, "I had no idea we'd be this talented."
On Tuesday, however, Turgeon said he expects self-improvement from the Terps during their long homestand, which extends into January with ACC games at Comcast Center against Virginia Tech (7-0) and Florida State (4-3). Maryland's next road game comes Jan. 13 at Miami (5-1).
"I love what we have over the next month as far as practice time and games," Turgeon said. "I can't always promise you we'll play well on game nights, but I imagine we're gonna be better in practice every day. That's gonna be our approach to it."
Wednesday at Comcast Center, Maryland begins with the least imposing of the six softies, Maryland Eastern Shore (0-7) of the MEAC.
"This is the time for us to buckle down," freshman Charles Mitchell said. "This is the time our team needs to get better daily -- in practice, on the court, off the court."
While the empty seats this month will likely outnumber the ones occupied at Comcast Center, Turgeon expects intensity and focus as the Terps try to cut down on their turnovers. They average 15.6 per game, second most among ACC teams, and committed 19 on Sunday in a 69-62 victory over George Mason.
"I haven't slept too well since the game," Turgeon said. "I can't figure it out."
While happy with his team's focus on defense and the boards, Turgeon remains mystified by the failure to take care of the ball, especially with primary ball-handler Pe'Shon Howard leading the ACC in assists (6.7 pg) and ranking third in assist-to-turnover ratio (3.1 pg).
"Lack of concentration, not valuing each possession the way we should," Turgeon said listing the Terps' flaws. "Trying to make a spectacular play instead of just the easy one. In hockey they give an assist to the guy that throws the pass to the other guy that has the assist. I kind of wish our team did that, because our guys always want to make the pass."
Sophomore guard Dez Wells has committed a team-high 3.0 turnovers per game, including five on Sunday. He dribbled the ball off his foot three times, according to Turgeon.
"I see the turnovers and it's so correctable," Turgeon said. "Hopefully he can figure out how to dribble without dribbling the ball off his foot."