Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon addressed the media March 2. Here are his quotes from the press conference at Xfinity Center:
On how the Terps are dealing with being No. 10
I don’t know yet. If I say we struggle with it, I mean other teams are getting fired up to play us is really what happens.
It’s just a number, but the guys should be proud of it. They’ve earned it. It is March, and to be ranked this high this late in the year means you’ve done a few things right. It should give us more confidence down the stretch, but I’d like to think we’ve gotten used to people being excited to play us, and we’ll be just as excited to play as our opponent.
On last time he had a team ranked in top 10
I don’t know if my A&M teams ever made it. They might’ve. I think I had an A&M team that made it to No. 8. I’ll have to ask my son, he knows all that stuff (laughs). And I know I didn’t at Wichita State
On potentially getting double-bye in Big Ten tournament
Yeah, we won’t talk about it. We’ll put everything into Rutgers. Our whole key [March 1] was to rest. I thought we were emotionally tired, so I’m hoping the guys are rested and ready to go [March 2] and give me a good practice. But really all we’ll talk about is Rutgers, that’s really all that matters. We really don’t talk about anything else except our opponent, and I think it’s worked pretty well for us.
On Dez Wells, Evan Smotrycz and their experience in the NCAA tournament and whether that helps UMD
I don’t know, we’ll see. I think we have some good players – that helps. I do think Evan and Dez and a lot of our coaches have some NCAA experience too. We’ll cross that bridge when it comes. We have a regular season to finish up and a Big Ten tournament.
But I think the key is to have good players and team chemistry – that’s most important.
On whether it’s tough to finish with two road games
Two road games and two Senior Nights? Yeah, we’ll see. I’m looking forward to the challenge. I thought we played well at Penn State our last road game, and I expect the same.
For us to continue to grow as a team and a program, and to get ourselves ready for the postseason, we need to perform well out there on the road. We’ve won a few road games and we’ve been a pretty good road team. It’s all part of the process.
We’re going to play games in Chicago, and we’re probably not going to have the most fans there. That can feel like a road game too. And the NCAA tournament can be that way too. So if we can just continue to focus on what we try to do in road games, that’s really what’s important.
On approach heading into Rutgers’ Senior Night
We’ll do some things. Mental approach is big for this game. But [the Terps] were barred from the gym [March 1]]. They weren’t supposed to come here unless they were getting treatment. If not, I didn’t want them shooting, nothing. Just get away from basketball, do you homework and just get emotionally and mentally fresh for this road trip.
On playing RU a second time and what’s changed
Now Rutgers was a long time ago, and our team has changed a lot and their team has changed a lot since then. We’re still running basically the same things, they’re still running basically the same things, but guys get better and guys play a certain way.
It’s a little easier to prepare, and it will be for [RU] too. And Nebraska, we just played them not too long ago, so that’s a quicker turnaround and will help both teams too. Both teams will have some time to prepare for that game … but you still have to put a lot of time into it. With Rutgers, they’ve had off since last Thursday so they’ve had a little longer to prepare for us.
On Dez Wells improvements of late
[He’s] very confident, very determined and he sees the light at the end of the tunnel. He can really lock in and try to do the best he can, doing what he has to do to help us win. He’s probably the most improved since that Rutgers game, but Evan Smotrycz, he’s healthy and playing better too. But I just think Dez is so determined to make this end the way he wants it to end.
On Damonte Dodd and if he can step up
I hope so. Damonte is pretty resilient. Our whole motto is, like most team, ‘Next play.’ Hopefully Damonte will do that. It would be nice to get him in there, keep him out of foul trouble so he can get a nice sweat going and feel comfortable. But we have tremendous confidence in Damonte, the whole team and coaching staff does. That’s why he continues to start throughout the year.
We need him to play well with [Michal Cekovsky] down, there’s no doubt about it. He just needs to relax and do the best he can.
On Jared Nickens improvement
From when he committed to us to his role on the team, you can say he’s given us a lot more than I thought. I knew he could shoot it, but to step in and make some of the shots he’s made for us in pressure situations this year has been pretty remarkable.
Defensively, rebounding, he’s come a long way. And he continues to work hard. I always say there’s a lot of basketball left to be played and guys can get a lot better. And Jared has kind of taken that to heart. He knows whether it’s three, four or five weeks left, he knows he can get a lot better and help our team.
Turgeon: Terps Have 'Done A Few Things Right'
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