So much of Maryland coach Mark Turgeon's media session Friday was spent rehashing the Terrapins' 51-50 defeat of N.C. State on Wednesday, the subject of the next opponent --- North Carolina --- didn't even pop up until more than three-quarters of the way into a session that lasted about 17 minutes.
Turgeon wryly noted his appreciation of the change of subject to a team Maryland lost to on three occasions last season. But let's face it: The Terps (14-3, 2-2 ACC) will be seeing a very different version of the Tar Heels (11-5, 1-2) on Saturday.
Kendall Marshall? Gone. Tyler Zeller? Gone. So are John Henson and Harrison Barnes.
So Carolina isn't the same, which is not an identical condition to being vastly worse off.
"I wouldn't say they're better defensively, because they don't have the presence at the rim, but their pressure is better," Turgeon said. "They weren't able to pressure as much. I look at their roster and they're playing six guards if they're all healthy --- [Leslie] McDonald's supposed to play --- and they were all top-50 players, some where top-25 and one was top-10. It's not like they're not any good. They have really, really good players that are still trying to find themselves, coming off injuries, different things. Then you have [James Michael] McAdoo, who was the No. 2 player coming out of high school, so they're really talented."
The Tar Heels had a week to get ready for Maryland, and are coming off a victory at Florida State that averted an 0-3 start in conference play.
"They key for them that game was [P.J.] Hairston made 3s, [Reggie] Bullock made 3s, [Marcus] Paige made a couple. If they're making 3s, they're really hard to guard. That's going to stretch our defense. We have to get out and guard them. The other night, we only had to stretch on one guy. We have to stretch on two or three on Saturday. That's a whole different animal, which opens up the drive a little bit more."
--- Patrick Stevens