There is now a bit of unfiltered truth beginning to trickle out of College Park.
Having missed out on opportunities both in the non-conference and conference schedules, the Terrapins have settled much closer to .500 than many anticipated and the window to earn an NCAA tournament berth closing, it was time.
“It’s been a tough year. We didn’t expect this,” Turgeon told the media on Monday. “We’re 14-12. We expected to be at least 20-6 at this point, but we’re not. We are where we are.”
Where they are is facing a five-game stretch that includes two ranked teams--one they’ve already lost to, Virginia, and the nation’s No. 1 team, Syracuse--while Maryland still does not have an Top 50 RPI win to their name in eight tries.
The remaining three--Wake Forest, Clemson, and Virginia Tech--are all must-win games as Maryland tries to reach closer to the 20-win plateau before the ACC tournament.
So how did Maryland get so far away from its preseason benchmark, where it hoped to be at 20 wins with five games to play instead of clawing toward that number as the projections become less and less in their favor with each passing week?
“We’ve had a great schedule. We just had to play a lot of it without our point guard,” Turgeon said. “We had a lot of opportunities. We’ve lost three games by one possession. That catches up.”
By Turgeon’s math, flipping losses to Connecticut, George Washington, and Duke into wins, Maryland would be 17-9 with three wins over RPI Top 50 opponents with two more chances to get quality wins before the end of the season.
He points to Seth Allen’s broken foot, an injury that kept the sophomore point guard out of the lineup until late December, as a reason for the team’s early struggles. Not only that, but once Allen returned it was only recently that he returned to full strength.
So here it is for Maryland. Three weeks. Two ranked opponents. Fully healthy with one rapidly closing window of opportunity.
“We could have folded our tent a long time ago with four out of five on the road and we continue to compete,” Turgeon said. “Just don’t count us out. There’s a lot of basketball left.”