Danny Manning hitched up his pants, fluffed back his suit jacket and continued repeating the same word. Two of his Tulsa basketball players had gotten leveled beneath the basket opposite the Golden Hurricane bench, and the second-year coach was pleading for a call.
Except Manning picked the wrong referee with whom to trifle, because jogging by him was Karl Hess, the tireless worker seen across ACC country whose commanding calls have earned him the nickname, “King Karl.” So when Manning, as he insisted later, kept saying, “Unbelievable,” Hess turned around and issued him a technical foul. And when Manning didn’t back down, the cadence of that one word growing faster and faster as he kept walking forward, against the official’s wishes, Hess handed Manning the first ejection of coaching career.
As Manning sipped his water bottle and lingered for a moment, an old teammate stood on the opposite bench, bewildered as to what just happened. Maryland Coach Mark Turgeon and Manning played at Kansas for three seasons in the late 1980s, and Sunday’s 85-74 Terrapins victory at Comcast Center was billed as a reunion between old friends. But it was cut short by the quick whistle, because maybe Manning should have known better.
“I was trying to get Danny to stop [and remember] who he was talking to, as a referee,” Turgeon said. “I was hoping one of his assistants would grab him. I didn’t want him to get thrown.
“I hated to see it. You hate to see that. Knowing Danny, he’s a pretty mild-mannered guy. I don’t think he was really trying to have that happen.”
The technical fouls sent Jake Layman to the free throw line, where he calmly sank all four attempts, turning a five-point Maryland lead into an insurmountable nine points. In his career, Hess has worked six Final Fours (2003, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2013) and this season has already worked 38 games.
“I thought the technical helped us, because it gave us a cushion, but it also inspired them,’ Turgeon said. “I don’t know if it changed things. It just gave us four more points, which changes a lot, I guess. Jake stepped up and made them.”
>> Center Shaq Cleare came off the bench for the first time this season as Turgeon gave freshman center Damonte Dodd his first start. Maryland’s post scoring has, at best, been inconsistent this season and Sunday was no different. Dodd finished with two points on an early dunk and grabbed two rebounds in 15 minutes. Cleare played five minutes, none in the second half, and had one rebound. Sophomore Charles Mitchell got into early foul trouble and never recovered, playing just eight minutes.
Starting Dodd, though, was part of Turgeon’s quest to find some semblance of production from his front court.
“It’s been eight days since we played BU,” he said. “After the game I was like I’ve got to do something. I tried them all in the BU game, the good thing is I have four guys I really have confidence in. I just got to play the guys who are playing the best on game night. Shaq didn’t really get a fair shake tonight, but Shaq was tremendous on the bench, coaching, never stopped talking, helping guys throughout the game, that’s a great sign.
“Damonte has length. He’s a shot-blocker, that’s kind of why I did it, to give him some experience. He actually played a little better than I thought he was going to play. Gave us 15 good minutes. Charles got in foul trouble or he would have played a little more tonight. It gives us a chance. When we get into the league, we play big teams, got four guys who will be ready to help us, which is good.”
>> That, however, is without mentioning Jonathan Graham, who since December began has been Maryland’s best post option. The junior transfer played 20 minutes against Tulsa, one shy of his season high, grabbed seven rebounds, scored three points and blocked three shots.
Despite logging 19 total minutes over the first eight games, Graham is now third on the team in blocks (10), and consistently provides the rim protection the Terps have sorely lacked since Alex Len left for the NBA, not to mention the emotional lift he can provide in times of crisis.
“Jon’s a very good defender who plays hard,” Turgeon said. “He has some big blocked shots around the rim for us. Offensively, he’s not a guy who demands the ball. … Those guys are nice to have. He just wants to get tip-ins and lay-ins around the rim and things like that. He doesn’t care if we throw him the ball.
“He’s a coach’s dream, a kid who plays hard, tries to do everything right. He’s a great kid and a great teammate. I’m really happy for Jon, because he didn’t say a word, he’s paid his dues and now he’s feeling more comfortable and it really helped us.”
>> Last week, before the six-point loss to Boston University, Turgeon expressed little desire to discuss his 300th career victory, which ultimately came against the Golden Hurricane. The Terps circled around their coach while a tribute video played above on the screen, filled with congratulations from former colleagues and players.
“I’ll be honest with you guys,” Turgeon said, “When I was 33 and took the Jacksonville [State] job, I thought I was going to be 300-0. I was so cocky. But this game humbles you pretty quick. It took a lot longer than I thought it was going to take to get here, but I’m hoping the next 300 come a lot faster.”
>> Dez Wells had significantly fewer thoughts on his 1,000th point, which was scored on a put-back layup less than four minutes into the game. The junior guard finished with a game-high 18 points and was about as ho-hum when addressing the milestone as someone could possibly be.
“Same as the first two,” he said.