Over the next few weeks, as this wildly entertaining college basketball season barrels toward Selection Sunday, national eyes will descend on College Park. Bracketologists will scrutinize Maryland’s resume, weighing wins over Duke and North Carolina State against, well, little else. Fans will wring their hands with worry, wondering whether the Terps have done enough to reach the NCAA tournament. And Mark Turgeon will keep looking away.
Even after Maryland’s monumental win over Duke. On Sunday, when Turgeon’s wife, Ann, tried to read some clips and share some quotes with her victorious spouse, Turgeon politely declined. The Terps have six ACC games remaining: at Boston College on Tuesday night, Clemson, at Georgia Tech, at Wake Forest, North Carolina and at Virginia. Any hiccup could send them tumbling toward the NIT.
Turgeon knows his players check the news. They watch “SportsCenter” and read the reports dissecting the Terps, wondering whether a few marquee wins and zero bad losses trump a weak nonconference schedule (Northwestern and Stony Brook are considered Maryland’s best non-ACC wins). But Turgeon does his best to keep his ears away from the noise.
“I just don’t,” Turgeon said. “I never have. I know we have six games left, I know who we play. It’s not like, ‘Oh, we’ve got to win this.’ No, no. We’ve got to figure out how to beat Boston College. I know the guys will look at all that stuff, but I won’t allow them to think about that. If you keep the focus on one thing, it’s a lot easier for them.”
Perhaps, but players like Seth Allen have actually found peace away from the game and the endless discussion. He’s been watching movies with teammates and taking recovery ice baths, preparing for the Eagles. He even stopped watching “SportsCenter,” though had he flipped on the television early Sunday morning, he would have seen himself hitting the game-winning free throws against Duke.
Ignorance, it seems, will be bliss for the young Terps, most of whom are experiencing both a grinding ACC schedule and bracketology for the first time.
Still, Turgeon recognized that the final third of Maryland’s schedule could dictate its future. Score an NCAA tournament berth, and the excitement builds even further. Fade away to the NIT? Best not to consider those matters just yet.
“We made a lot of strides last week,” Turgeon said. “We talked about commitment on and off the floor to Maryland basketball. It’s just one week, it’s just one game. But there’s really more commitment being made by each player. That’s really what’s important to me, not what lies ahead in March. We have a young team. We’re building, not only for the next six games and postseason, but for the future. How we handle the next month will determine how our future will be.
“I really believe that. Today we’re going to really work on us and a little on Boston College, because that’s what we’ve done lately. It’s the old coach’s cliché: One at a time. I know you guys find that hard to believe, but my wife was trying to read me some quotes from the Duke stuff, and I was like: ‘I don’t want to hear it. Keep it to yourself, please.’ ”
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