The Maryland basketball team practiced twice Sunday, with Coach Mark Turgeon and his staff telling the Terrapins to wipe the slate clean, to use Friday’s season-opening loss to Kentucky as motivation moving forward. There was no talk of moral victories or intangible takeaways.
Instead, the message from Turgeon and his staff was simple.
“I don’t read the stuff but I know some people were satisfied with the loss, but we weren’t,” Turgeon said. “We didn’t go to lose. I felt like we gave the game away up there. We got after them pretty hard.”
What resulted was a 67-45 blowout of Morehead State. The Terps dominated defensively, fighting through 20 turnovers and at times lackluster offensive execution en route to matching their biggest victory margin of the 2011-12 season.
Any hangover would have been understandable after moving from a sellout crowd of 17,732 in Brooklyn’s Barclays Center — which was jam-packed with either loyalists of the defending national champion Kentucky or Terps fans rooting for an upset of the nation’s third-ranked team — to playing in front of half that at the Comcast Center.
Maryland fought until the bitter end against Kentucky, stunning the Wildcats with a 13-0 second-half run. After the final buzzer sounded, talk began of positive takeaways, of playing Kentucky so close on a neutral floor. Maryland even received points in the Associated Press and coaches’ 25 polls, the voters seemingly rewarding the Terps for a strong effort, even in a loss.
Balderdash, says Maryland.
Turgeon implored fans to buy tickets for Friday’s game against LIU-Brooklyn. The reasoning? Maryland will put a “good product” on the floor and “play hard.” Both promises came to fruition against Morehead State. The Terps limited the Eagles to 31.7 percent shooting, including 1 of 14 from three-point range. Milton Chavis, who dropped 24 points on LIU-Brooklyn Friday night, mustered just two points and four shots in the first half. Chavis finished with a team-high 10 points as Maryland held an opponent to less than 50 points for the first time in Turgeon’s tenure.
“Yesterday was pretty much getting better and also preparing for the game,” senior forward James Padgett said. “Getting back to the basics and preparing for this game. Just playing a team close is not good enough.”
Dez Wells hasn’t even been on campus for three full months since transferring from Xavier, but he’s already been taught the Maryland legacy. Citing the perennial success of the Terps lacrosse teams – 12 national championships between the men’s and women’s program – the sophomore forward said the bar is already set, echoing Turgeon’s Friday comments that this will not be a rebuilding season. The Terps will win now.
“That’s how we all felt,” Wells said. A moral victory means nothing to us. People have a lot of those, we don’t walk away with those. We want to win … This whole school is about winning. Coming close to beating the No. 3 team in the nation isn’t good enough for us. We want to win. We work hard and we should have beat those guys. If we see them again, it’ll be a great game again.”