Many of Maryland’s issues — poor defense, awful three-point shooting and an overall lack of focus — were apparent again Wednesday night in North Carolina’s 79-68 victory at Comcast Center. With only one game remaining in his second regular season at Maryland (the team closes on the road Sunday at Virginia), Turgeon clearly has plenty of work ahead of him to build the type of strong program Terrapins fans once expected.
The team has shown some improvement from last season. It’s just that after rolling to a 12-1 nonconference record — which was misleading because of a schedule that, to put it nicely, wasn’t stocked with NCAA tournament-caliber teams — Maryland was wildly inconsistent in ACC play. Then the Terps had one of their worst clunkers in the final game on their home court. Not good.
Still, Turgeon has no doubts he’ll succeed. Williams sees the situation similarly. Give his protege some time, Williams said. Turgeon has a lot of hurdles to clear.
“Mark has done a fantastic job,” said Williams, who between phone calls uses game video and the Internet to keep up on what’s happening with his friend’s team.
“The fact that some people don’t see it . . . they don’t realize what college basketball is about. He’s done a great job with some things going on with the program.”
The administration’s decision to bolt for a bigger payday from the Big Ten wasn’t included in the recruiting pitch that lured Turgeon to College Park.
Turgeon knew he’d have to rebuild a program that flopped recently because of poor recruiting; changing conferences wasn’t in the deal. Turgeon came to Maryland to be part of the tradition-rich ACC.
There’s no arguing that the Big Ten is a great basketball league as well. But there’s only one Tobacco Road.
For college coaches, your conference is everything. Many spend their entire careers pursuing ACC positions. If Turgeon could get the Terrapins turned around in the powerful ACC, well, that’s the sort of thing that looks great in the history books.
Maryland will develop new rivalries in the Big Ten. It’s not as if facing Indiana and Michigan will be a breeze compared to battling Duke and North Carolina each season. It will, however, be different.
“It’s not what Turge thought it was going to be,” Williams said. “I’m shocked by the whole thing, Maryland leaving, but it’s the scene. It’s the culture that we have in college athletics today. There could be three more different leagues next week that we don’t even know about right now.
“But Turge had no control over it. He understands that. He’s going to put his head down every day and try to do the best job he can for the University of Maryland. That’s what you have to do as a coach.”