Rick Snider: It's time for Mark Turgeon to light a fire under Terrapins

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Maryland coach Mark Turgeon is a low-key personality who appears even softer given that predecessor Gary Williams went ballistic more often than a NATO missile commander.

But as Maryland readies for Georgia Tech on Wednesday, the Terrapins needs to rekindle Williams' fiery style. They have to emerge from a malaise of nobody regularly taking the big shot or making the key play. Center Alex Len or guard Dez Wells must become playmakers and Turgeon has to inspire players.

Maryland (19-8, 7-7) likely needs to win its final four games plus an ACC Tournament win or two to make the NCAA playoffs. Maybe it can lose once, but that's a big maybe.

"I hope there's a sense of urgency," Turgeon said. "We didn't play that way at Boston College. I hope we play that way [Wednesday.]"

They sure better or else it's the NIT for the Terps.

Williams' teams used to get much better in February. Even mediocre ones suddenly became contenders as the calendar crept towards March.

But Turgeon hasn't found the secret to this year's team. As much as Maryland overperformed last year in Turgeon's first year, they seem to have underperformed this season. Sloppy ball-handling means fewer than 10 turnovers is considered a good game. Saturday's victory over Clemson was simply beating another mediocre team, not the launch of a postseason crusade.

The Terps need a point guard. They don't have one and won't get one until next fall. Until then, the offense doesn't seem to flow unless the team forces a high-tempo style.

Turgeon talks of players gaining confidence lately, but they're never going to truly believe in themselves without a ball-handler. Turnovers are momentum busters.

Wells has been Maryland's best player as expected, but he's still not the clutch scorer in waning moments. Wells scored more than nine points only once in the last five games while averaging just three converted field goals per game.

Len was supposed to be an NBA lottery pick after this season. Well, the chances of that happening are indeed lottery-like numbers. Hopefully, Turgeon convinces Len to remain one more season before he gets lured away by the money as a late first-rounder, because once players reach the NBA they don't get better.

The Russian center is remindful of Chris Wilcox, who left Maryland after the 2002 national championship as a sophomore to become a lottery pick. Another year wouldn't have helped his overall selection, but it would have improved his game so much that Wilcox's second and third contracts would have been so much bigger, rather than Wilcox becoming a journeyman.

Len was terrific against Duke with 19 points and nine rebounds. However he disappeared against BC with four points and scored nine in the win over Clemson with seven coming in garbage time. Being 7-foot-1 doesn't help when opponents pass around him rather than come straight at him, either.

Maryland needs its intensity to awaken beyond the Duke game. Otherwise it's insanity to believe they'll reach March Madness.

Examiner columnist Rick Snider has covered local sports since 1978. Read more on Twitter @Snide_Remarks or email rsnider@washingtonexaminer.com.

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