SNIDER: Terps meltdown should leave Turgeon's future tepid

Rick Snider
March 04, 2020 - 11:47 am
Terps meltdown should leave Mark Turgeon's future tepid

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Mark Turgeon is on the clock. If the Maryland Terrapins don't make at least the Sweet 16, it's time to move on from a coach who is once again powerless to stop a late-season collapse.

A team widely expected to make the Final Four after ranking in the top-10 often this season has lost three of four games. And, the Terps lost each badly, with the sole win nothing short of a miracle.

Turgeon said the team is tired. That they'll get it together. Frankly, Turgeon recruits talented but non-warriors on the court who get overwhelmed when games matter most in late-February and March. Somehow, Turgeon just can't bring out the rage in them.

Aside reaching the Sweet 16 in 2016 after two easy games over the opening weekend, Turgeon has done little in the postseason since succeeding Gary Williams in 2011. Williams made his teams better in the final weeks while Turgeon's simply wilt.

Oh, Turgeon's 203-99 record looks good, but it's filled with too many meaningless wins. When it's time to shine, Maryland is suddenly lights out. The school could have taken a major leap forward on Saturday when hosting ESPN's 'College GameDay' and a national audience before a full house in College Park. Instead, Michigan State embarrassed them.

Instead of rebounding, Maryland lost again to Rutgers 78-67 on Tuesday, a game that was a blowout from the start. The Terps once more were down 10 early, and after a season of comebacks, it's no longer happening in March when opponents are battle tested.

Turgeon has no answers. The Terps offense has no inside flow aside scattered dunks by Jalen Smith. Senior guard Anthony Cowan is no Melo Trimble, who sliced through defenses for layups and one. Rutgers threw a 2-3 zone at Maryland and the Terps were just stumped.

Turgeon obviously can't prepare the team to open strong. Williams would blister the team in pregame talks to create early dominance. Turgeon's teams are too often clueless and suddenly down 10. Sure, the Terps are getting everyone's best game, but they're not playing their best games. Coming back from 14 down several times this season is a backhanded achievement. They shouldn't be down 14 or more.

Williams said the team is feeling pressure. Well, it doesn't get any easier. Maryland limps into the regular-season finale against Michigan hoping to retain its Big Ten lead. The Big Ten Tournament soon follows, and then the NCAA Tournament, where Maryland earns either a second or third seed.

Think Cinderellas are going to be any easier come Madness? They'll protect an early 10-point lead with their lives and Turgeon will find another excuse about things improving next year.

Maryland is changing presidents soon and newcomer Darryll Pines has some athletic background that current president Wallace Loh badly lacks. Loh did great things academically for Maryland, but his athletic decisions were too often major busts. Now Pines must decide whether Turgeon is truly the right person to lead a team known as a national contender for much of the past 50 years.

If the Terps don't reach at least the Sweet 16, it should be time for a change.

Rick Snider has covered Washington sports since 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @Snide_Remarks