Yes, he has had consecutive top-25 recruiting classes and currently has a better winning percentage in his first two seasons than Lefty Driesell and Gary Williams did in theirs. But for all the work Turgeon has put into cutting and pasting a decent roster together and somehow siphoning 17 wins out of last season’s leftovers, this maddening Maryland team is thus far a work in progress.
As North Carolina comes to Comcast Center on Wednesday night for the Terps’ final home game, Turgeon is still waiting for all the promising parts to consistently add up to a genuine whole.
“Sometimes you’re really pleased: Guys are getting better, working hard,” Turgeon said Tuesday afternoon before practice. “I think what the problem has been — and a lot of young teams do this — is just the inconsistencies. One night Seth Allen can give us 20, and the next night, he can give us two.
“But, you know there are good pieces. They’re young pieces, but they’ll get better. You try to push the right buttons and continue to coach them.”
Leading up to Maryland’s signature victory against Duke, Turgeon had to tell Alex Len that Mason Plumlee had treated him like a little brother earlier in the season before the projected first-round NBA draft pick played like a dominant center against Plumlee. Len has become tougher and a much more skillful player from a year ago, but on certain possessions he is still softer than Maryland’s nonconference schedule.
Nick Faust can be eye candy off the dribble one night and completely forget to see a teammate under the basket for an easy layup the next. Turgeon will tell you it’s unfair that Faust, a sophomore, has had to be relied upon like a senior. Still, the kid’s basketball IQ disappears at the most inopportune times.
The evil-twin theme continues on down a roster that has been forced to start underclassmen in almost 80 percent of its games.
The real infuriating part is you can tell Turgeon likes this team. Terrell Stoglin, the departed star from last year’s team, was a scorer with remarkable range. But he always saw himself as the No. 1through No. 5 option on offense; he was never going to be a true Turgeon player, a real teammate.
Many of these Terps are Turge’s kind of guys; they just haven’t shown up routinely enough to fulfill their potential.
“I do like ’em,” Turgeon said. “But what we don’t have is senior leadership that’s won at a high level, or even junior leadership that’s won at a high level. . . . We don’t have the upperclassmen that have won to teach our guys how to win at a high level. We’re winning, sure — 20-9 [overall], 8-8 [ACC] — it’s been a really good year in that way. But we want more.”