The Terrapins have entered the reality-check portion of their schedule, already slipping in consecutive games thanks to an array of mental mistakes and missed opportunities. Perhaps, as senior guard Logan Aronhalt said, beating Virginia Tech by 22 points in the ACC opener on Jan. 5 spurred a “false sense of the type of competition we’d be playing farther into the season.” Perhaps this moment was inevitable, like Turgeon has said since the preseason, or because his players are learning “that you can’t just show up and win at this level.”
And now the level ramps up again with a game against the Wolfpack, the preseason ACC favorite that upset then-No. 1 Duke at home Saturday and boasts an athletic, veteran lineup. After a film session, an inspiring pep talk from Turgeon and a revitalizing bowling outing, the Terps returned to their unselfish principles during practice, knowing full well a win would redirect the ship.
First, Maryland must solve its offensive woes: The Terps put up a paltry 14 first-half points and set season lows in most shooting categories against Miami on Sunday. The offense disappeared in the second half against Florida State four nights earlier. Pe’Shon Howard has been stuck in a rut at point guard, necessitating Nick Faust’s move to the position, while the team’s offensive execution leaves much to be desired.
“We just can’t make a freakin’ shot,” swingman Dez Wells said. “We cannot make a shot at all. We’re playing really, really good defense. We just [stink] right now shooting. We just can’t make a shot. There’s no way around it. There’s a lid on the cylinder. We’re getting decent looks. If we pass more and I cut down on our turnovers, I think we can get better shots than we’re getting. That’s on us as players. It’s nothing that Coach Turgeon’s not doing for us.”
Resilience and confidence might be necessary for these Terps, four of whom are experiencing adversity for the first time in their college careers. Since Howard’s last game, Turgeon said, the message to his junior point guard was “quit feeling sorry for yourself.” That advice could easily apply to Howard’s teammates as well.