Maryland coach Mark Turgeon might want to consider a new penalty for turnovers. Assessing players five push-ups per miscue, his routine in practice, doesn’t appear to be working.
On Wednesday night against severely over-matched Monmouth, Maryland committed a season-high 23 turnovers, the bad news in a 71-38 victory on an unfocused, uninspired night before 9,265 at Comcast Center.
Sophomores Nick Faust (16 points, four rebounds), Alex Len (14 points, 10 rebounds, five blocks), and Dez Wells (10 points, five rebounds) led the stress-free rout. But the number Turgeon was more concerned with was 23.
The turnovers exceeded the Terps’ previous high by three. Freshman Seth Allen (seven turnovers in 15 minutes) was especially bedeviled by the jump-switching pressure of Monmouth (5-6), coached by former North Carolina point guard King Rice.
“We’ve worked really hard on turnovers. Don’t ask the question,” Turgeon said. “Really disappointed. To me it’s more mental than anything. We weren’t mentally into the game.”
Maryland (9-1) relied on its constants, holding Monmouth to 20.6 percent shooting overall and 21.4 percent from beyond the arc, out-rebounding the height-challenged Hawks, 44-29, and making 19 assists on 25 baskets.
But there was little joy in Turgeon’s post-game press conference or in the locker room, according to players.
“What happens in the locker room stays there,” Wells said. “But I can say he wasn’t happy.”
After hitting its first seven shots, all from the paint, and blowing out to a 15-5 lead, Maryland never trailed. But shortly thereafter, the flood of turnovers hit — 12 in the final 13 minutes, 3 seconds of the first half. The horrendous shooting of Monmouth was all that kept Maryland in charge as it led 31-21 at intermission.
“We got out-played in the first half. They out-hustled us. They played harder. They played tougher,” Turgeon said. “Probably as bad a first half of basketball any of my teams have played, maybe ever. I’m really disappointed.”
Maryland put Monmouth away early in the second half as Faust triggered a 17-4 charge with a 3-pointer and Len added seven points. But the sloppy play of the Terps continued.
All four of the scholarship freshmen struggled. As a group they had more turnovers (10) than points (nine).
“I’m letting these young guys play through a lot of mistakes,” Turgeon said. “I feel like I keep giving these guys minutes hoping they’re gonna get better.”
Charles Mitchell (three rebounds, two turnovers) failed to score in 11 minutes. Shaquille Cleare (two points, five rebounds) was less-than assertive. Jake Layman, who sat out the first half because of an academic issue, hit a 3-pointer but was otherwise ineffective. Over the last two games, he 6-8 wing has missed nine of his last 10 shots.
“He’s gotta give himself confidence. He’s gotta be tough,” Turgeon said. “He’s gotta get it back. He doesn’t have it. It’s painfully obvious.”
For the last month, Turgeon has rotated 10 players, but has repeatedly said he’s more comfortable using seven or eight. As Turgeon contemplates the start of the ACC schedule in January, some of the freshmen appear in danger of losing their slots.
“Everybody talks about what a great class this is,” Turgeon said. “They gotta get a lot better for us to get where we want to be this year.”
Notes: Monmouth’s top scorer, 6-6 Andrew Nicholas (two points), who entered with a 14.6 ppg average, failed to hit a shot on nine attempts from the floor … Maryland shot 58.1 percent, led by the starting five who combined to make 19 of 29 shots (65.5 percent) … Maryland cleared the bench again and freshman guard Conner Lipinski hit a celebratory 3-pointer in the final minute on his first field goal attempt of his career … More from Turgeon on the freshmen: “I threw them in the fire for a reason. We’re playing Monmouth. Our guys should play better against Monmouth than they played. I’m disappointed and they have to give me more. The problem is everybody is telling them how good they are because of our record. They are listening to everybody else except me. But we have a lot of time. We’re going to be fine … As a coach I judge myself every day on what I am getting out of my team. Right now I told them I’m not getting a lot out of them and I am frustrated.”