Maryland men’s basketball media day: Motivation, weight flux and other favorite moments

October 10, 2012

Assorted nuggets from Maryland men’s basketball media day, because I love you readers.

>> Coach Mark Turgeon rarely reads reports or articles. Just doesn’t do it. Makes his wife throw out the newspaper when she’s done reading. Except once this offseason. He picked up one college basketball magazine, which predicted the Terps would finish 10th in the ACC. “That’s the only one I looked at,” Turgeon said. “That’s all I needed. I’ve had teams that were picked eighth or ninth and made the NCAA tournament. We’re going to have a chance to be a postseason team.”

Thus begat the afternoon’s money quote: “I think the national spotlight is coming,” he said. “I think we all know that.”

>>Turgeon began his press conference by addressing reports that Terps great Len Elmore had collapsed at the Knight Commission meetings in Washington D.C. “Lenny had a little health problem, but he’s fine,” Turgeon said. “Says it’s been blown way out of proportion. He was almost upset it’s been such a big deal.”

>>Sophomore Varun Ram is the newest addition to the Terps’ roster after making the team as a walk-on. Ram transferred from Trinity (Conn.) College, a Division III school that competes in the New England Small College Athletic Conference. With the Bantams, the 5-foot-10 guard averaged 7.8 points and 2.5 assists per game, but was held scoreless in a 64-62 loss last season against Tufts, my alma mater, which is really what matters. Ram is a Clarksville native who attended River Hill High School.

>>There was plenty of talk about weight among various Terrapins. Here’s the final breakdown of significant gains and losses over the summer:


Alex Len has bulked up in the offseason. (Associated Press)

Pe’Shon Howard: Lost 15 pounds
James Padgett: Gained 15 pounds
Shaquille Cleare: Lost 23 pounds
Nick Faust: Gained 30 pounds
Charles Mitchell: Lost 18 pounds (He cut out his favorite fried foods, the ones he enjoyed back home in Atlanta. Apparently the baked and grilled foods he eats now “have no taste.”)
Alex Len: Gained 20 to 30 pounds (thanks to weightlifting and and what I assume is Boston Market)
Me: Gained four pounds

>> Thought this was interesting. Turgeon was asked about whether he consults current players about recruits, and said that, while it’s never happened before, his players could hypothetically veto a certain recruit.

“We all need to be happy,” Turgeon said. “They know what works and what doesn’t work, and what fits in and what doesn’t. That’s why I try to not get emotionally invested in recruiting. But I do my homework. It’s never happened. Do I know every kid 100 percent when I sign them? No, absolutely not. Who does? But I have a good feel for who they are as a kid, character-wise.”

>> Spoke with numerous Terps about their Navy SEAL experience, including the pursuit of “one perfect jumping jack,” a legendarily hard task among those who have gone through The Program. The unanimous choice for most physically draining task was treading water while in full sweatsuits, then removing those sweatsuits under water.

Oh. Alex Len and Shaquille Cleare fireman-carried each other. I would pay to see footage of that.

>> For those unaware, Albany transfer Logan Aronhalt is from Zanesville, Ohio, famous for the Zanesville massacre. If you have some time and want to read a haunting story, check out Chris Jones’ Esquire piece on the massacre. “That’s the only thing people know about Zanesville,” Aronhalt said.

>> The Terps were wearing these shoes:

The new Under Armour uniforms will be unveiled Friday during Maryland Madness, so everyone was mum on the details, but all the players seemed pretty excited.

>> A three-way tie for my favorite moment of media day:

1) Dez Wells was talking about his Maryland connections that helped him decide to transfer to College Park. Bino Ranson was a major influence. So was wide receiver Nigel King, Wells’s best friend. Turgeon? Well, as Wells said, “I had never heard of him before or talked to him.” Hearing this, Turgeon interrupted him. “You live under a rock?” Perfect deadpan from the coach.

2) Pe’Shon Howard was the last player conducting interviews. Nearby, Seth Allen had just finished. So Allen, who calls Howard his “big brother,” sneaked over to Howard’s table with a giant grin on his face like a Cheshire cat. He stuck his name placard on the table, right next to Howard’s, and quietly sat there as Howard answered questions.

3) Shaquille Cleare jogging across the court to Allen’s media table, just so he could quote “The Longest Yard” and say “You half-a meatball.” He then laughed the laugh of a 6-foot-9, 270-pound center and left.

>> What got you excited from basketball media day? Surprised? Concerned? Drop it in the comments.

Alex Prewitt covers the Washington Capitals. Follow him on Twitter @alex_prewitt or email him at alex.prewitt@washpost.com.
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