On Tuesday morning, the Maryland men’s and women’s basketball teams announced that Maryland Madness would move back into Cole Field House on Oct. 18, an opportunity for Terrapins fans to return to the legendary arena, at least for one night of introductions, exhibition dunk-fests and celebration. If men’s coach Mark Turgeon had his druthers, this will become a regular thing.
Speaking to Andy Katz and Seth Greenberg on their ESPNU College Basketball podcast, Turgeon said he wants to “play a game in Cole every year.” The building, which stopped hosting basketball games in 2002, is currently used for intramural sports.
“We’re going to have to put some money, scoreboard, court, fix up the seating for us to do that,” Turgeon said. “I want to do it over Christmas break. Instead of playing a team on Dec. 21 at Comcast, playing a game on Dec. 21 in Cole Field House I think we’ll fill it up and fans will be real excited to do it.”
Turgeon said he’s wanted to return to Cole Field House ever since taking the job in College Park over two years ago. The Terps, who reached the National Invitational Tournament semifinals in New York City last season, begin preseason practice this Friday. Turgeon promised to shorten workouts to stave off exhaustion down the road, especially after the team’s foreign tour to the Bahamas this August.
“That’s my biggest concern,” Turgeon said. “We went on a tour, we went to the Bahamas. I only used eight days of practice for that; we only played three games, didn’t practice over an hour and a half for that on any day. I’ve done that before, where my teams have gotten burned out. We’ll cut it short, probably won’t’ go over an hour and a half. We’ll continue to do individual work during these early practices. Yeah it’s a huge concern about burning those kids out as a season goes on.”
Through the magic of transcription, some other notable quotes from Turgeon on the podcast, including comments on transfer waivers and the injury status of center Shaquille Cleare:
On addressing turnovers: “That’s just it, we’ve worked really hard on a lot of things since the season ended. We weren’t great with the ball in the Bahamas either. Some games we were pretty good, one of the games we were pretty bad, so it looked like last year. It’s something we haven’t corrected, but continue to think about. Just give them a little more structure maybe, especially early in the season.
“But like you said Seth, I have some pretty good players that need some freedom to be able to make plays. Really it’s just decision-making and trying to help them, watch more film, when we get started here we’re going to watch a lot of practice, a lot of film during our 20 hours as we move forward. Hopefully just by being a little bit older, we still don’t have a senior on our team, but being a little bit older, hopefully we’ll take care of the ball a little bit better.”
On Dez Wells: “He’s definitely our leader. He’s getting some help from Nick Faust and Evan Smotrycz, the transfer from Michigan, our three juniors. They’ll be our leaders. Dez is a player that I like to have the ball in his hands. He was one of the biggest culprits of turning the ball over, over 100 turnover last year. We talked about that, but he also has a lot of assists too, so I expect Dez to have a great year. He’s worked really hard all summer, here in the fall, and he’s a guy we’re going to rely on tremendously. We have some good players, guys how have grown up, and Dez doesn’t have to do it all. He has to be a leader and take better care of the basketball for us.”
On transfer waivers: “I just think it needs to be one way or the other, either they all sit or they all play. That’s really the right thing. I love that Evan was sitting out. I’ve had a lot of success, whether it was at Wichita State with young men who transferred in, sat out, had the fourth and fifth year, really got better in that year, so I’ve had a lot of success.
“I think for Evan, last year, the right thing for him to do was sit out. To be honest for you, it might have been a good situation for Dez Wells to sit out too. He got lucky and got the waiver and made the most of it. But either way, I just want them either to either all sit or all play, preferably all sit, because we already have a problem with guys leaving. If they’re able to play right away it’s really going to go crazy. Really, all of them would sit would probably be the best thing for college basketball.”
On Cleare and forward Charles Mitchell: “Absolutely. We’ll play them together. Shaq’s been hurt unfortunately, had some back problems that keep lingering. You know a back is something you really don’t mess with. All the tests have been done structurally he’s fine, we’re just hoping that his back loosens up and he’s ready to play. Shaq’s a heck of a player. He sat behind a lottery pick last year, really worked hard during the season last year, worked hard into the early spring and early summer, then he’s been hurt quite a bit. We expect him to play well.
“Charles has lost a ton of weight, has a nose for the basketball, looks better now than any time that he did last season. So, high on those two guys. Those two guys are real important to us and to our success and, you know a lot of times last year I played them when they weren’t quite ready to play, to be honest with you. But I knew how important they were going to be for us this year.”