Maryland convened earlier this week to break down film of Sunday's 80-69 loss to Virginia, a session that had little chance of being enjoyable.
Coach Mark Turgeon informed the Terrapins that guard Pe'Shon Howard would be suspended for at least Saturday's game against Duke. Then he dissected all of what ails Maryland (17-7, 5-6 ACC), which finds its season slipping away a month before the conference tournament.
"He gave us his opinion on the season, and it wasn’t pretty," guard Logan Aronhalt said. "It was good for us. We all needed to hear that."
There was plenty for Turgeon to delve into. The Terps' inconsistency is a striking characteristic for a team that has muddled its way through a tough first half of conference play before a lethargic loss to Virginia.
It was a troubling performance for Maryland, which turned in one of its most forgettable games entering the lone bye during conference play.
"We just haven’t been as disciplined as need to be a team and as a program to get to where we need to be," Turgeon said. "You just keep grinding it. At some point they’ll get it."
Some point, though, has not arrived three-quarters of the way into the season. And that's enough to make anyone wonder if Maryland will ever quite figure things out.
Turgeon probably is uncertain himself, hence the lengthy film session and critique of his team this week.
"It’s unfortunate it has to get to that point," Aronhalt said. "It’s just a tough situation. It’s different with every guy because guys are going to bring energy a little different, attitude a little bit different. We all have to be on the same page and at times --- actually, most of the time this season --- we’ve been on different pages where some guys are going all out and some guys are just kind of coasting. From here on out, he told us everybody has to bring it 100 percent."
Maryland's problems are almost entirely confined to the last month, when a 13-1 start gave way to the realities of conference play. The Terps' non-league schedule was always going to be a hindrance if they were a borderline NCAA tournament team, and that issue won't disappear even if Maryland improves over the final month.
In the end, it was understandable why Turgeon scheduled as he did. But there wasn't much revealed about Maryland as it navigated a generally manageable November and December slate. With the struggles over the last five weeks, the Terps' shortcomings have been exposed.
"It’s probably getting magnified now that we’re playing against the teams we’re playing against," Aronhalt said. "The ACC is tough. It’s a tough league. Our nonconference schedule really didn’t prepare us for this level of play."
Nonetheless, there is fault to spread around for an early misevaluation of Maryland. Turgeon acknowledged Friday he was frustrated he allowed expectations to get ahead of his team, which echoes some of his thoughts earlier in the season.
Still, it was easier to look past Maryland's point guard questions and inconsistent outside shooting in the season's early stages because they weren't costly issues. And even now, the Terps' record provides some reason for Turgeon to cite obvious progress over last year, when Maryland was 17-15.
"I don’t know how many teams in the country that are 17-7 and 5-6 in their league, so I’m optimistic, too, and excited about the future," Turgeon said. "I keep saying that. Would I like certain guys to be further along? Absolutely. Would I like certain guys to be more consistent? Absolutely. It’s Feb. 15 and it’s some of the same battles. We’ll see. In some aspects, we’re further along and in some we’re not."
The areas where the Terps aren't, though, have become more glaring as the season's gone along. It might turn out it wasn't just externally where there were misperceptions about Maryland's strength and potential this season.
"I think the biggest thing is guys think we’re a lot better than we are and maybe we are that good, but we haven’t done anything to prove it," Aronhalt said. "Not anything. We haven’t won nearly enough games and there are times we have played against teams where we just haven’t brought it, just haven’t brought the energy. We have to understand our talent is not enough to take us where we want to go."
--- Patrick Stevens