Turgeon: Maryland falling flat on defense, but why?

Turgeon: Maryland falling flat on defense, but why?
November 20, 2013, 1:30 pm
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Excitement at Maryland over visit by President Obama

COLLEGE PARK--A frustrated Mark Turgeon came to the podium postgame on Sunday night at Comcast Center and spoke his mind, how his team had game planned for two players--Oregon State’s Roberto Nelson and Devon Collier--yet somehow the two combined for 60 of the team’s 90 points in the Beavers’ win.

There were so many mistakes, he said. They would have to go back to the film to begin to wade through them.

On Tuesday, as the team continued to prepare for its trip to Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands at the end of the week, there was still displeasure in Turgeon’s voice.

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“I’m sitting over there on the sidelines and just cannot believe the way we’re playing,” Turgeon recalled about Sunday. “I just can’t believe the way we’re playing defensively.”

Teams coached by Turgeon are typically efficient on the defensive end of the floor, but this year it has not been the case.

Maryland was able to score 77 points in its opener against Connecticut and 83 more against Oregon State, but those both ended in losses.

The Terrapins noted even in the preseason that the loss of center Alex Len to the NBA would leave a void in the middle of their defense, so could the lack of a rim protector mean that perimeter mistakes that were erased last season are now evident without Len?

“I started a 6-7 center at Texas A&M and made the NCAA tournament, so I think rim protection is a little bit overrated,” Turgeon said. “Not everybody has it. We were lucky enough to have it with Alex. Just got to guard better.”

Athletic freshman Damonte Dodd, a 6-10 big who can run the floor with the guards, showed promise in the team’s exhibition win over Catholic University, but his game is still too raw to demand significant minutes in that rim protector role.

“Damonte eventually will be that guy,” Turgeon said. “[Class of 2014 signee] Trayvon Reed eventually will be that guy. But right now he’s not completely ready and Trayvon Reed’s not here.”

Sophomore center Shaquille Cleare, a highly coveted recruit out of high school, has yet to find his footing during his second season in College Park. Through three games, Cleare is averaging 2.3 points and 2.0 rebounds in just over 17 minutes per game.

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His counterpart and roommate Charles Mitchell, by comparison, has averaged 12.3 points and 7.3 rebounds off the bench. But Mitchell has stayed upbeat about his friend’s development.

“He’s just got to loosen up a little bit and just play his game,” Mitchell said on Tuesday. “When he goes back to playing Shaquille Cleare game, he’s going to be a great player…I believe in him.”

With three games coming in four days during Paradise Jam, expect different configurations of the team’s rotations, not only to keep players fresh but also in an attempt to find the combination that works best.

“If we’re going to be standing straight up on defense and not playing with any more effort than that, then I’ve got to play more guys and see what happens,” Turgeon said. “We can’t let guys get into the paint like it’s a walk in the park.”

Turgeon, though, remains optimistic ahead of the trip to the Virgin Islands.

“I think we got better today. That’s really all you can ask. It’s Nov. 19. There’s a lot of basketball ahead of us.”