No. 6 Maryland takes on No. 11 Xavier March 16 at 6:50 p.m. in Orlando, Fla. See what Terps’ coach Mark Turgeon and players Kevin Huerter and Melo Trimble had to say March 15 on the eve of their NCAA tournament opener:
Opening Statement from Turgeon
Obviously very happy to be here in Orlando. Every team wants to be in the NCAA t ournament. Everybody's goal is to be in the NCAA tournament. I wasn't sure when the year started. We had so many new players. It's been a fantastic year. We're looking forward to the Tournament, playing a great Xavier team. It's an experienced, well-coached team. We've had a great week of practice and fired up for tomorrow night's game.
On Xavier’s play in Big East tournament
You see a much more confident team. They were much more efficient on both ends of the floor, I thought, and their best players played well. And I think Chris [Mack] figured it out. Yeah, because I watched the stretch, and I watched when they started winning, and it's a different team. Guys are playing well. Macura has been terrific. Continue to rebound at a high level. I just think their execution got better and their defense got better. They're just playing with much more confidence than they were during that streak, kind of getting used to playing without their point guard.
On Melo Trimble
No. 1 is he's a winner, and so we've won a lot since he's been here. He's changed the face of our program. I mean, you think of Maryland basketball, Lefty and all the players and the job that Lefty [Dreisel] did, and Gary [Williams] comes in and wins a national championship. But we had to kind of establish ourselves, and Melo's helped us do that on a national level.
The best thing about Melo, besides being a winner, is he's a great kid. He hasn't changed a bit. He's humble. He always puts the team first. This year he's had to be more of a leader, which is not a natural thing for him to do. He's a quiet kid, and he's been able to lead. I mean, I can go on and on. I can't say enough. He's done a lot for our program.
I have some really good guys on my staff that do a good job, if I'm not in Melo's ear, they're in Melo's ear. Just teaching him to be comfortable as a leader is what's more important. He's more example than he is talking, but he's talked more in our team meeting. We do a lot of team meetings -- I don't know if they're called team meetings. We just kind of get together and talk. He's felt more comfortable doing that, and his voice carries a lot of weight in those meetings.
And I just think maturity. He knows he has to be the leader of this team, and it just -- you know, you watch him. He's comfortable doing it. He's much more comfortable doing it. I'm just really proud of him. What he's gone through this year with such a young team and to put us on his back at times, it's been fun to watch.
On Expectations For Program At Season’s Outset
Fans and media play a big part in it, but our expectations were different because we lost so many players, and then we had some injuries when the year started. Our big guy Ceko [Michal Cekovsky] was never healthy all year. Dion Wiley was never healthy all year. Those were two projected starters for us. So you lose four starters, and then two other projected starters don't play most of the year. So the expectations were pretty low.
Our young guys were terrific, and we started to win. Expectations changed during the year, too. So we got off to the best start in school history at 20-2, and then expectations changed. Then didn't play as well from then on.
A lot of things go into it. I think media plays a lot in expectations, who you recruit, who's coming back, all that kind of stuff. It's kind of like momentum plays into expectations.
On Road Success
For some reason, we've just been really comfortable on the road. We were 7-2 in the league in true road games. 8-2 overall. I think someone told me it was the best power conference road record out there. We did it with three freshmen playing 30 minutes a game. So it was pretty amazing.
I don't know how it happened. We won a game we probably shouldn't have won against Georgetown. And our first league road game was Michigan following a loss to Nebraska at home, which we weren't too pleased about. So we were locked in. Then it just became, hey, let's keep it streak going, keep it going, keep it going.
We played well on the road. All except for one game, we really played well on the road. Hopefully, that will help us here because we're treating this, obviously, like everybody is, a road game. We'll have some Terp fans out there tomorrow night, but we feel more comfortable.
I think we're more locked in defensively, and I think our shot selection and execution's better on the road because we know how important that is.
Trimble & Huerter
Trimble On First NCAA Tournament Compared To Third
The first time in the tournament, it was my first year in college. I was excited. I didn't know what the experience would be like. I was just anxious to get out to where we played at and finally to play on an NCAA court during March Madness. We went there last year, and now again here this year. Still excited. Still nervous to play. When we get to this time of the season, we just start over and try to go on a run.
Trimble On Road Success
We haven't really made a big thing about us playing on the road coming to the tournament. We just want to find ourselves and play as a team and be about the team as far as players. Like I said, we haven't really talked too much about playing away from Maryland or not playing in front of too many of our fans.
Trimble On Xavier
The film we watched, they're a really aggressive team on the offensive end. They play really hard on the offensive boards. Trevon Bluiett has scored on all three levels. They go and shoot the ball. That's what we've seen from the regular season until they play last week at the Big East Tournament. They're a really good offensive team. They play really hard.
Trimble On How His Game Has Progressed
I feel great on the decision to come back [to college]. It's new. I play with a lot of young guys now, as opposed to my freshman year, I was one of the young guys on the team. Last year I was still one of the young guys, and now I'm one of the older guys on the team.
So it's different. I'm able to be a leader, lead the young guys. The way I played this year was the right way, in my opinion. I was able to get my teammates involved this year, just give the freshman to go, because college is a different level than high school. To get to this point now to get to the NCAA tournament, I couldn't be more proud of myself.
On How Trimble Has Bounced Back After Being Benched Against Wisconsin
It was tough for me to sit out the way I did. It was the regular season. That didn't make our season. It was a learning point for us as a team. In order to win, we have to rebound, and we have to defend. That's all we've talked about the past two weeks is rebounding and defending, especially this time of the season. If you defend and you guard other players, you're able to almost come out on top.
Huerter On Being Recruited By Xavier And Now Playing Against Them
Yeah, it's been fun. But there was a bunch of schools, especially in the Big Ten, that I was getting recruited by, too, that I developed more of a relationship from talking to them obviously through recruitment. Coach Mack was also at the USA trials this summer for our first tryout in Colorado. I talked to him a little bit there. They're obviously a really good team, he's a really good coach, and I'm excited about that.