At a news conference to promote the BB&T Classic on Thursday in downtown Washington, Maryland Coach Mark Turgeon said Alex Len, the 7-foot-1 Ukranian center who signed with the Terrapins in late August, has yet to be approved by the NCAA Clearinghouse.
“We haven’t gotten him through yet so we’re at eight scholarship players and six walk-ons,” Turgeon said. “Guys are working hard. From Day One, they’ve bought in. We’ve had good individual work sessions, good conditioning. I’m looking forward to coaching. Everybody is telling us how bad we’re going to be so I’m looking forward to coaching.”
Although official practices don’t begin until Oct. 14, the Terrapins have been going through individual workouts and conditioning sessions.
Maryland will play Notre Dame at the BB&T Classic, which is Dec. 4 at Verizon Center. Turgeon said he grew up rooting for the Fighting Irish, while Notre Dame Coach Mike Brey was a Terrapins fan as a youngster. And Brey, a George Washington graduate, remembers watching Colonials Coach Mike Lonergan play basketball at Carroll High School.
The three coaches talked about their connections as well as their excitement about playing in the BB&T Classic. VCU Coach Shaka Smart, whose team is also part of the 17th annual tournament, was not in attendance. His wife gave birth last week.
George Washington plays VCU in the first game of the doubleheader.
“I grew up, born and raised Catholic, and I was a big Notre Dame fan,” Turgeon said. “I have always followed Notre Dame, followed Mike [Brey]. Mike was on the staff at Duke when I played in the Final Four [in 1986 with Kansas]. I lost when I played, but we won the next time. . . . I’ve got tremendous respect for [Brey]. Playing Notre Dame is a thrill for me and for my family. I’m looking forward to that.”
Brey, whose team is competing in the BB&T Classic for the third time, is undefeated in the tournament.
“Growing up in Rockville, Maryland, growing up a Maryland basketball fan, it kind of has a special spot in my heart,” Brey said.