Turgeon's antics almost worked, but Terps aren't there yet

New recruits, offseason of work for current players should put Maryland on better path

March 04, 2012|Kevin Cowherd

That was some show Mark Turgeon put on in Sunday's Maryland-Virginia game, wasn't it?

Oh, he broke out all the psycho-coach moves. He stomped his feet. He whipped off his suit jacket. He shook his fists at the crowd. He got in the faces of his players. Oh, yeah, he even got T'd up. Picked up his fourth technical foul of the season for going thermo-nuclear on the refs.

Remind you of anyone? Grey-haired guy who used to go nuts on the sidelines during Terps games? Guy who sweated so much he looked like someone pushed him in a pool when the game was over?

Yeah, somewhere Gary Williams was sitting with the remote in one hand and maybe a cocktail in the other, smiling at Turgeon's antics and murmuring: "That's my boy."

In the end, of course, it wasn't enough. This was another tough loss for Turgeon and the Maryland Terps in a season that already felt like death by paper cuts for the program. But give them credit: the Terps turned in a gutty performance against Virginia before flaming out in overtime and losing 75-72 on Senior Day at Comcast Center.

And if the Terps left it all out on the court against the 24th-ranked Cavaliers, so did their coach, who looked like he needed to find a good Happy Hour when the final buzzer sounded.

"Unfortunately, I thought I had to act like a madman to get us to go," Turgeon said. "Sending guys to the bench and calling time-outs wasn't getting it done. So I figured if I could get the people in the building behind us and get some energy . . .

"I don't like acting like that. But when you're the coach and the leader, you gotta figure out ways to motivate everybody in the building. I felt that's what I had to do."

The story line for this loss was simple: too much Mike Scott. All the Cavaliers senior forward did was score 35 points, pull down 11 boards and make one big shot after another down the stretch.

No matter how crazy he went, Turgeon didn't have anyone on his bench that could stop Scott. Scott was Superman, plain and simple.

"He was the best player on the floor," Turgeon said. "He made play after play. We started to double him and he just stepped out further."

So Maryland loses its regular-season finale and heads into this week's ACC Tournament as the eighth-seed. Despite its gritty performance against Virginia, it's a team that seems banged up and exhausted. Raise your hand: who expects this team to go very far in Atlanta?

But there's plenty of hope for next season. The Terps have a strong recruiting class coming in, for one thing. It's headed by Shaquille Cleare, the 6-foot-9, 270-pound center who's a consensus four-star prospect. And it includes Jake Layman, an athletic, high-scoring 6-8 swingman considered the top player from Massachusetts.

But Turgeon has some work to do with a couple of this year's Terps who'll be back next season.

He needs to get Terrell Stoglin's head on straight, get the kid to take better shots. Stoglin scored 25 points on 8-for-24 shooting from the field against the Cavaliers, but his crazy shot selection remains a big problem.

Sure, Stoglin can be brilliant at times. He's the only true scorer on the team. He's the only one who can create shots for himself and take defenders off the dribble.

But Turgeon has to find a way to get Stoglin to be more unselfish, one of the reasons he benched him at the start of the second half yesterday.

"I've had to put up with more than I really want to put up with this year because of a lack of depth," Turgeon said cryptically of the benching. "So I had just had it. Just had it."

Translation: The kid's play was driving me nuts. Hope he got the message sitting on the pine.

Turgeon has to do something with Alex Len, too. The 7-1 freshman big man from Ukraine remains a huge project. But there's no denying his athleticism. Which means there's no denying his potential.

But the kid needs a lot of work. For starters, lock him in a weight room with a strength and conditioning coach to bulk up. And find a way to make his hands stronger, too.

How many times has he had the ball stripped from him this season? It seemed like dozens. He'd pull down a rebound or catch a pass in the lane and the ball would get whacked away seconds later..

Remember how Roger Clemens used to build up hand strength? I mean before he was accused of juicing? He'd plunge his hand deep into a barrel of rice. Then he'd grab a handful and squeeze. After a few seconds, he'd pull his hand out and do it again and again, dozens of time a day.

If that's the case, Len should do it hundreds of times a day. Whatever it takes. Lock the kid in an Uncle Ben's factory until he's got hands like vise-grips.

But that's something Turgeon tackles next season. Right now, he needs to get his team ready to face either Virginia Tech or Wake Forest Thursday in the opening round of the ACC Tournament.

He did all he could to will them to a win against Virginia, though.

Just came up a little bit short.

kevin.cowherd@baltsun.com

Listen to Kevin Cowherd Tuesdays at 7:20 a.m. on 105.7 The Fan's "Norris and Davis Show."

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