Last year at this time, Maryland was 16-14 and had a losing record (8-9) in the ACC. This year, the Terrapins are 25-5, 13-4 in the Big Ten and ranked No. 10 in the country
So, coach, how does this year compare to last year?
“Well, obviously I’m having a lot more fun,” Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “When you’re in the middle of any season, you’re just trying to win your next game. Last year at this time, we’re trying to win our last game, which was Virginia at home. It was our last ACC game. It was a big game (Maryland won, 75-69, in overtime). But this year’s been a lot of fun. It’s been a fun team to coach. We’re excited about where we are.”
Maryland closes the regular season at Nebraska (13-16, 5-12) this Sunday at 7:30 p.m. ET. The Terps beat the Huskers, 69-65, at home Feb. 19.
Now they’re hoping to do it again.
“Big game for us,” Turgeon said. “We want to finish the regular season the right way. But it’s been fun. It’s a great group. I knew in June I had a good group of guys when I started working with them and (that) we had a chance to be a pretty good team. They’ve exceeded (expectations) a little bit. We continue to gain confidence and continue to get a little bit better.”
Maryland lost six of its final 10 games last season and finished 17-15 – just over .500. At the time, there was a lot of negativity surrounding the program, which had been one of the ACC’s finest for the last decade and beyond.
The Terrapins brought in a good recruiting class, yes, but how has Turgeon turned things around? And how has he turned them around so quickly?
“Well, you just keep it within your family – and that’s what we did,” Turgeon said. “We knew we recruited a good class. We knew Melo (Trimble) had a chance to be special. We knew the ones that were coming back were totally bought into what we were trying to do, and they accepted the new guys with open arms. The personalities fit. The pieces fit. So you just kind of stay within yourself.”
Trimble, a freshman, leads the team in scoring (16.0 points per game), assists (3.1) and steals (1.3); Dez Wells, a senior guard, is second in scoring (15.2), rebounds (5.0) and assists (2.8); and Jake Layman, a junior forward, is averaging 13.2 points and 6.1 rebounds.
Ten Terrapins play at least 12 minutes per game.
And so, one year after finishing ninth in the ACC, Maryland will finish second in the Big Ten – which, for what it’s worth, has won four of the last six ACC-Big Ten Challenges (the other two were ties).
“It was just going to take time,” Turgeon said of his team’s development. “I wasn’t expecting this. I expected us to be better. I expected us to be a borderline NCAA Tournament team. But we just have had great senior leadership. We have good players. You don’t win 25 games if you don’t have good players – and we have really good players that have bought in and are doing whatever it takes to win games.”