Terps settled in Puerto Rico, ready for action

Maryland opens with Alabama Thursday, then faces either Wichita State or Colorado Friday

November 16, 2011|By Jeff Barker, The Baltimore Sun

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — — Three games in four days? It's the sort of compressed schedule that some teams play in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament in March.

But this isn't March, and it sure isn't Greensboro, N.C., site of last year's ACC tourney.

It's San Juan, scene of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off. As Maryland worked out Wednesday at the ultra-modern Coliseo De Puerto Rico, it was a humid 80 degrees and the team had checked in the day before at a downtown beachfront hotel.

Surrounded by palm trees and inviting diversions, the Terps face their first major test under new coach Mark Turgeon. They open against No. 16 Alabama Thursday, then come back Friday against either Colorado — which is coached by Tad Boyle, Turgeon's friend and former Kansas teammate — or Wichita State. Turgeon is a former Wichita State coach.

"Neither one would be any fun. I was disappointed the bracket came out that way," Turgeon said.

After a day off, Maryland plays one more game Sunday before flying home. The schedule is particularly challenging since the team has just seven members originally recruited as scholarship players. Not counted among the seven is Pe'Shon Howard, the sophomore point guard who broke a bone in his left foot and isn't expected back for at least a few months.

His foot encased in a walking boot, Howard hobbled around the court Wednesday joking with teammates and heaving the ball at the basket on one leg from behind the 3-point line.

So how will the undermanned Terps stay fresh? "Ice baths and eating right, hydrating, getting your rest, getting off your feet — that's all important," Turgeon said. "And to continue to create depth, whether it's [with guard] Jonathan Thomas or [forward] Jon Auslander, whoever it is. But it's going to be hard for us. They are some deep teams. Alabama is a deep team."

Turgeon's goal here is for his team to improve.

"Transition defense and rebounding are the two things we've really emphasized the last couple days," he said. "Actually we never talk about winning, to be honest with you. We talk about getting better, preparing, and if you play well good things are going to happen."

jeff.barker@baltsun.com

twitter.com/sunjeffbarker

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