On the eve of Maryland's first exhibition game against Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Coach Mark Turgeon had some surprising things to say considering all of the excitement surrounding the Terrapins at the start of a fresh season.
I'm not sure we have five guys practicing well enough to start, the Coach said when asked about Friday's lineup.
Turgeon, about to commence his second year as the Terps head coach, says he is disappointed with his team's inconsistency in these first three weeks of practice. He points to erratic defense, and sloppy guard play as two points of concern.
I know I'm being pretty critical today, but if you were at my practice yesterday, you would feel the same way I do, Turgeon said.
Thankfully, the Terrapins coach has seen some positives that he hopes to build on. He says sophomore Nick Faust has gotten stronger and improved his shot while senior James Padgett is stepping up to try to be more of a leader. He also says 7-foot-1 Alex Len has bulked up, which Terps fans hope will make him a bigger threat in the paint.
In addition, Turgeon likes what he sees from freshman Shaquille Cleare.
He's the one guy that has consistently brought it hard everyday, Turgeon said of the 6-foot-9 center. Shaq tries to get every rebound which I really appreciate, he plays hard, and is unselfish.
Aside from the inconsistency he's seen from the team as a whole, Turgeon recognizes that this team is very different from last year's squad - in a good way.
Our talent level is different, absolutely, he said. We're bigger, stronger, faster, deeper. You'll see that tomorrow night.
When asked about how the team has changed with the absence of Terrell Stoglin, the ACC's leading scorer last season, Turgeon said he expects them to be a better and much more balanced offense.
I imagine we'll have a lot more assists, he added.
With only four returning players, much of the team is young, which is why Turgeon is looking to players like Faust, Len, and Padgett to help lead the group.
Unfortunately kids don't have time to grow up. We're going to play four freshman and two sophomores a lot tomorrow night, said Turgeon. They don't have time, which is great for them. We knew that when we recruited them. That's why they came here.
Besides Shaquille Cleare, freshman forward Charles Mitchell has been a pleasant surprise and new guard Seth Allen is an explosive addition to the squad according to Turgeon. It is in these young guys that the Terps will find their youthful energy, and depth.
Despite the talent, Turgeon brought up the concern about the lack of urgency he sometimes sees. It has been a priority of his to emphasize the importance of each possession, but he doesn't think he has gotten that point across to all of the players, especially the younger ones.
I feel like I want it a little bit more than they do, Turgeon said. It can't be that way.
Maryland will have to make sure they work out their inconsistencies before they play the defending-champion Kentucky Wildcats in Brooklyn next Friday. Even more importantly, they must be ready to compete with conference foes.
Fortunately, the Terps have a plethora of nonconference tests to work through their difficulties before the ACC showdowns begin in January.
I do think we have a chance to grow as a team before conference [play] starts. We've got a mix of some pretty good games in there. We'll [be able] to work on some things, get better, let kids grow up, and let them play through mistakes.