Maryland looking for some passion

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Sports,College,Kevin Dunleavy,Terps,University of Maryland

Up-and-down effort is frustrating Mark Turgeon

Toppling No. 2 Duke in a raucous spectacle Saturday at Comcast Center brought Maryland national attention, enhanced its NCAA tournament resume and demonstrated how good the Terrapins can be.

But games before and after Duke may be more telling about a team that appears to be adrift. The questions after losses to Virginia on Feb. ?10 and at Boston College on Tuesday were the same: Are the Terps putting forth maximum effort? Do they care enough?

Even as they sometimes stumbled through the first five weeks of the ACC schedule, there was little reason to doubt the commitment of the Terps. In their first 23 games, they outrebounded every opponent. But getting beaten on the boards by Virginia 34-29 and Boston College 37-32 was a disturbing indictment of the focus of Maryland.

Up next
Clemson at Maryland
When » Saturday, noon
Where » Comcast Center
TV » ESPN2

Even on Monday, less than 48 hours after the uplifting win over Duke, coach Mark Turgeon was questioning his team's desire.

"I've never coached a great team where I wanted it more than that team," Turgeon said. "I've had teams where I wanted it more and they just never reached their potential. I'm quite tired of it to be honest with you."

The next day there was no respite for Turgeon as he watched the Terps surrender a seven-point lead and get outrebounded 23-14 in a disastrous second half at Boston College. After saying he hoped the Virginia game was "rock bottom," Turgeon might have discovered a new low.

The situation is becoming increasingly desperate. A pecking order has emerged in the ACC. Miami (22-3, 13-0) and Duke (22-3, 9-3) are NCAA tournament locks. N.C. State (19-7, 8-5), North Carolina (18-8, 8-5) and Virginia (18-8, 8-5) are tied for third place, well ahead of Maryland (18-8, 6-7) in the standings and with better tournament qualifications.

When Maryland plays host to Clemson (13-12, 5-8) at noon Saturday, the Terps know their margin for error is shrinking.

"If there's any point of the season that we really have to sit down and say we have to make a change and get more consistent, it's right now," senior Logan Aronhalt said Thursday night on Turgeon's weekly radio show. "It's all up to us at this point. No game is easy. But they're all winnable."

Hitting seven 3-pointers and scoring 26 points, Aronhalt was the lone bright spot Tuesday.

A lack of leadership has been a theme this season, so much so that Turgeon stripped senior James Padgett and junior Pe'Shon Howard of their captain duties last week, dubbing himself captain.

"I was encouraging everybody to be a leader and not be followers," Turgeon said. "Some of our guys were following the wrong things."

The point guard slot has also been troublesome. On Thursday, Turgeon said he will make another change, replacing freshman Seth Allen. He wouldn't reveal whether sophomore Nick Faust or Howard would take over.

On Saturday, Turgeon's search continues for a leader, a point guard, a player to match his will.

"You gotta want it a heck of a lot more than I do. I know it's my livelihood. I have a passion for coaching and all that," Turgeon said Monday. "You play because you love it. You gotta want it more than I do."

kdunleavy@washingtonexaminer.com

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Kevin Dunleavy

Staff writer - sports
The Washington Examiner