Sloppy Terps end time in Puerto Rico with 89-63 loss to Iona

Maryland turns the ball over 26 times in fifth-place game

November 20, 2011|By Jeff Barker, The Baltimore Sun

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Turnovers, rushed shots, foul trouble and a kidney stone. Maryland coach Mark Turgeon endured it all during one harrowing Sunday in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off that ended with the coach blasting players for repeatedly not running plays correctly and for "a lack of commitment there to what we're trying to do."

Turgeon felt ill enough that he had to cancel a media session the day before the game, and it was questionable whether he'd be on the sideline Sunday for the tournament's fifth-place game. He was indeed coaching, but his young team's erratic play (26 turnovers) was hardly soothing in Iona's 89-63 victory.

Asked about the kidney stone, the coach replied: "It was a tough 24 hours. I'm fine. This loss hurts a lot more."

His displeasure was evident during the game -- and particularly afterward.

"The lack of commitment to running the plays the right way right now, it's mind boggling. I've never seen anything like it," Turgeon told a small media contingent. "This is the biggest challenge I've ever had in coaching. It's not even close. To me, the kids have got to care more. I've taken over programs before that were picked low in their league, but the kids did what they were supposed to do."

The first-year Maryland coach had seemed a portrait of distress during the game, stomping his feet and shouting at his players. "You haven't had a good shot yet!" he hollered during a timeout with his team trailing by double digits early in the second half after being down by just three at the half. His voice could be heard across the court in the sparsely populated Coliseo de Puerto Rico, and his foot stomps sounded like drum rolls.

After a lengthy postgame session with his players, Turgeon emerged. He had said in an interview before the season that he is passionate and prone to speaking his mind -- and both traits were on display Sunday.

Turgeon described running a play two days earlier in a win over Colorado on the tournament's second day.

"We ran it right all 10 times in that game. We ran it wrong all three times today. To me, the kids have got to care more. They're got to care a lot more than they're caring. There's a lack of commitment there to what we're trying to do," he said.

Turgeon did not raise his voice while addressing the media. At times, he lowered his head and stared at the floor.

Maryland (2-2) had only 32 turnovers combined in its three previous games this season despite playing without point guard Pe'Shon Howard, who made the trip here but was in a walking boot to protect a broken bone in his foot.

But the Terps had 26 turnovers against a solid Iona team picked in the preseason to win the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. Repeatedly in the first half, Maryland players did not get back on defense -- a pet peeve of Turgeon's.

"I'm giving them the same message, and something's got to be changed or it's just going to be a mediocre season at best. And I don't want it to be mediocre," he said.

The Gaels pressed and trapped, and the Terps seemed to tire. Said Iona coach Tim Cluess: "We don't have the size a lot of teams have so we have to speed the game up a little bit."

Iona (2-1) had lost to Purdue by one point in its Tip-Off opener before beating Western Michigan. The Gaels were led Sunday by senior guard Scott Machado, the school's all-time assists leader. He had 15 points and 15 assists. Senior forward Mike Glover, the preseason MAAC player of the year, had 19 points.

Maryland will leave San Juan with one victory in three tries. It would not have been such a disappointing outcome for a depth-challenged team if the Terps had managed to avoid so many errors on Sunday.

Maryland had 10 turnovers in the first 10 minutes as Iona took a 22-16 lead. By the time Iona expanded its lead to 35-25, Mychal Parker already had three fouls, Nick Faust had three fouls, and Sean Mosley (team-leading 21 points) had two fouls. The foul trouble forced Turgeon to go deep down the bench and play multiple walk-ons.

Maryland closed the first half with a 9-2 run to pull to 37-34. With the foul trouble and 16 first-half turnovers, it seemed improbable the Terps would be that close.

But the Gaels pulled away in the second half. Iona took its biggest lead, 54-42, on a layup by Glover. Led by Arizona transfer Lamont Jones (game-high 22 points), the Gaels soon went on a 12-0 run to up the lead to 68-49.

Turgeon said the Terps have generally bought in to his coaching. He said things seem to break down when players face adversity in games. "When we're not buying in is when it goes bad. We splinter," he said.

Only one player -- Mosley -- was made available to the media after the game, and he nodded his head as his coach spoke.

"We didn't execute any offensive plays in the second half," Mosley said.

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