Maryland coach Mark Turgeon wants to follow former coaches Lefty Driesell and Gary Williams as a legend in College Park.
He’s off to a solid start.
Like Driesell and Williams, Turgeon won his first game with the Terrapins, a 71-62 defeat of UNC Wilmington before an announced crowd of 12,873 at Comcast Center.
“I don’t want to sound like I didn’t care, but it’s just another game,” said Turgeon, who was hired in May to replace the retired Williams. “I’ve been doing this – I think this is my 14th year as a coach – I’ve been doing this a long time. It felt really routine for me. I know what I’m up against and just trying to make guys better and make our team better.”
Freshman Adam Smith scored 23 points for the Seahawks (0-1), who are coming off a 13-18 season and were picked to finish 10th in the Colonial Athletic Association.
In addition to Turgeon’s first real game, four Maryland players – guards Nick Faust and Mychal Parker and forwards James Padgett and Ashton Pankey – made their first career starts. None of the Terps’ starting five was on the floor to begin either of Maryland’s ACC tournament games last March.
Terrell Stoglin, who was expected to start at shooting guard, came off the bench to score a team-high 22 points for the Terps (1-0). Stoglin split time at both the point and the two while logging a team-high 34 minutes.
Turgeon declined to address what Stoglin did to warrant the brief benching. By night’s end, he couldn’t complain about the work of the sophomore guard.
“Guys have to do things a certain way,” Turgeon said. “It’s nothing big. Terrell played his tail off tonight. He guarded.”
As did the rest of the short-handed Terps, who heeded Turgeon’s emphasis on both defense and taking care of the ball.
The Terps, so sloppy in their exhibition defeat of Northwood, committed 13 turnovers and just four in the second half. And the Seahawks nosed over the 60-point plateau only on a 3-pointer in the final minute.
Stoglin’s play, however, stood out even on a night when his evolving relationship with Turgeon briefly drew some attention. Stoglin is Maryland’s most capable scorer, a fact Turgeon is acutely aware of as the Terps delve deeper into their nonconference schedule with only seven scholarship players.
But Stoglin also developed a reputation for preference for one end of the floor over the other as a freshman, hardly a surprising development for a young player. The process of getting the Arizona native to embrace defense won’t be completed instantaneously, though Sunday will help.
“I wanted to show coach I wanted to play defense this game,” Stoglin said.
Maryland’s schedule gets immediately more difficult Thursday when it faces No. 17 Alabama in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off on Saturday. Depth issues will be amplified. The absence of a made 3-pointer was a worthy footnote.
It wasn’t a perfect evening. But it served its purpose for a team that progressed considerably from its disorganized exhibition game nine days earlier.
“Defensively, we’ve come a long ways,” Turgeon said.
Far enough, it turned out, for Turgeon to get off to as fine a start as his two most famous predecessors.