Mark Turgeon looked exhausted, like the latest close loss for his Maryland men’s basketball team had battered the third-year coach so hard that little emotion remained. He kept saying “point-four” over and over, as if somehow he could banish the memory by simple repetition. Understandably, as he stood inside the hallways of Greensboro Coliseum, the prospect of stomping the sidelines and screaming himself hoarse for one more game did not seem too appealing.
“I’m numb right now,” he said, when asked about the prospect of playing more, “so ask me in a day or two.”
Had the National Invitation Tournament tabbed the Terrapins into its 32-team field on Sunday night, Turgeon and his players would have summoned the energy to soldier on, albeit with a different tune than last season, when they stampeded into the NIT gung-ho about erecting some building blocks for the summer.
Instead, four days after Florida State dunked the Terps out of the ACC tournament, the NIT passed them up, and their season was over. They were undone by their 5-15 record against the RPI top 100, not to mention an overall record of 17-15 identical to Turgeon’s first season in College Park.
“Yeah, it’s been a tough year,” Turgeon said. “You know, the thing I’m most proud of, though, is a lot of teams would have quit. A lot of teams wouldn’t have played spirited basketball the way we did all the way through.”
So, we now arrive at the season review, a place to pick up the pieces. The coaches will hit the road recruiting. The players will return to the gym. And everyone will plod on with the bitterness built from a fourth straight NCAA tournament-less season.
Maryland’s NCAA tournament drought is its longest since 1990-93, when Gary Williams was a new coach and the Terps were reeling from a three-year NCAA postseason ban. … The Terps played the fastest of any Turgeon-coached team since 2003, when tempo records are available, and had his most efficient offense since 2010, according to Ken Pomeroy. … Forward Charles Mitchell led the ACC with a 15.3 offensive rebounding percentage and had seven double-digit rebounding games this season. … Since coming to Texas A&M, Turgeon’s teams have never shot 70 percent from the free-throw line. This season, at 67.9 percent, was no exception. … Maryland’s 11.7 block percentage was the best of Turgeon’s career, even better than the Alex Len-led team of 2012-13. … Just 31.9 percent of Dez Wells’s made field goals were assisted, according to Hoop-Math.com. Wells improved his free-throw shooting by nearly 11 percentage points and averaged almost two more points per game, reaching double-digit scoring in 28 of 32 games. He also led the Terps in field-goal shooting (48.1 percent), assists per game (2.2) and blocks per game (0.8). … Center Shaq Cleare committed 70 personal fouls and grabbed 79 rebounds this season. … Nick Faust made 30.1 percent of his three-point attempts and finished third on the team in attempts. Jake Layman (36.5 percent) and Evan Smotrycz (36.7 percent) were first and second, respectively. … Maryland is the only team to beat a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament but also miss the postseason altogether.
The Terps held off a late comeback from Providence to take the 2013 Paradise Jam title in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Wells was named the tournament’s most valuable player. … In the final ACC regular-season game in program history, the Terps upset then-No. 5 Virginia and sparked a raucous court-storm to bid the conference farewell. … Wells, the “superstar,” as one teammate put it, made a three-pointer with 5.9 seconds left to stave off pesky Miami. … Wells and Allen each topped 30 points in games this season, career-highs for each. … In a win over Tulsa, which featured the return of Allen from a broken foot, Turgeon got his 300th career win and Wells scored his 1,000th career point. … Despite transferring in just before the season began with minimal expectations of even cracking the rotation, the Terps got a strong, intense season from Jonathan Graham. … The Terps did well in their preseason foreign tour to the Bahamas. … Maryland signed a top-10 recruiting class and saw point guard Melo Trimble earn McDonalds all-American honors.
Maryland lost to Oregon State and Boston University, both at home. … Maurice Creek’s buzzer-beater sank the Terps against George Washington in the BB&T Classic. … Even without T.J. Warren, the ACC’s leading scorer, N.C. State still managed to beat Maryland in Raleigh. … The Terps had chances to beat Connecticut, Duke and Syracuse with shots on their final offensive possession and came up short. They also lost in double overtime at Clemson. … The end at Florida State, by a dunk with less than one second left, was similarly heart-breaking. … Selection Sunday passed without a bid to the NCAA tournament or the NIT. … Attendance reached an all-time low at Comcast Center, including three of the four worst-attended ACC games in building history.
THE BIG STORIES
President Barack Obama was in attendance to watch his brother-in-law, Craig Robinson, and Oregon State win over the Terps. … Before the season began, in mid-October, assistant Dalonte Hill was arrested for a DUI and subsequently took a leave of absence from the program. He later resigned and was replaced by Dustin Clark, the former director of basketball operations. … Juan Dixon, legendary Maryland point guard and Final Four MVP, was hired as a special assistant to the head coach. … Also before the season began, Allen broke his foot and was lost for several months, derailing Maryland’s plans to have him be its starting point guard. … A magical night for history observed Maryland Madness return to Cole Field House, and all the famous names of past teams returned to watch the celebration. … The Terps played through their ACC schedule with heavy hearts over the declining health of former student manager Zach Lederer, who was taken off life support in January and eventually died from a long bout with brain cancer shortly before the ACC tournament. … Mitchell, after an in-game outburst against Virginia Tech, was sent to the locker room before halftime and didn’t return, but wasn’t disciplined any further. … The ACC acknowledged a held ball error in the Duke game, which gave the host Blue Devils an extra possession, in a game that ended on a missed Mitchell hook shot. … In August, Wells sued his former school seeking damages for his expulsion.
THE OTHER STORIES
John Auslander has a future on the Maryland bench as a coach. … A constant state of mimicry for the Terps scout team. … In North Carolina Central Coach LeVelle Moton, Wells found an old mentor and friend. … Sleepovers in Baltimore paved the way for a matchup between Faust and Syracuse’s C.J. Fair. … Terps pack in recovery, rest on two-game road swings.
THE OFFSEASON QUESTIONS
1. Will the roster change? Right now, barring attrition, the Terps will be stuffed to the brim with scholarships. Their incoming class of 2014, currently ranked among the nation’s top 10 by several recruiting services, has four members, which puts them right at the NCAA cap of 13, not to mention the six walk-ons slated to return. Turgeon likes carrying 17 players, so more than likely two will be jettisoned or leave on their own accord.
Speculation for transfers has begun, and few college basketball teams are immune to attrition. No sense in throwing out names, until something concrete arises, but this question also extends to the assistant coaching staff.
As it stands, here is how the scholarship list looks:
2. How will the freshmen adjust? Had Trimble agreed to graduate from Bishop O’Connell early, like Turgeon asked, he would have been Maryland’s starting point guard this season. Naturally, the expectations can only skyrocket after earning McDonalds all-American honors during his senior year. When he and his three fellow incoming freshmen arrive for summer school, how will they adjust to the college game? Trimble should slide right into the point guard role, bumping Allen to his natural position at shooting guard, but what of sharpshooters Dion Wiley and Jared Nickens, and big man Trayvon Reed?
3. What will be different? This is meant as a broad generalization, because little changed for the Terps between Turgeon’s second and third seasons. They still committed too many turnovers, were prone to mental errors and struggled to get over the hump necessary to earn an NCAA tournament bid. With nine scholarship Terps returning, this will be a big summer for player development.