With Selection Sunday less than a week away, the Maryland men's basketball team is still looking for a statement win to add to its resume before the NCAA Tournament begins.
The Big Ten tournament will be the Terps' last chance to do that. Maryland is the No. 5 seed and will play the winner of Nebraska-Rutgers March 14. If things line up the way the Terps hope, they will have the opportunity to play No. 1 Michigan State in the semifinals -- provided the Terps can get past Nebraska or Rutgers and No. 4 Wisconsin March 15.
"I think Coach [Mark] Turgeon's got to have a good splash in the Big Ten tournament," former Towson head coach Pat Kennedy said on
Glenn Clark Radio
March 11. "I think the biggest thing [is] he's got to convince their own kids that we need some breakthrough moments, we need some breakthrough wins, so having a great Big Ten tournament would be important. I wouldn't want to play Maryland in the NCAA Tournament."
Kennedy compiled a 499-497 record during 31 seasons as the head coach of Iona, Florida State, DePaul, Montana and Towson, leading his teams to the NCAA Tournament eight times.
Even though Turgeon hasn't seen much postseason success throughout his previous seven seasons in College Park, Md., Kennedy reminds fans that former Terps head coach Gary Williams didn't see immediate success as the Terps head coach, either. In his first seven seasons, Williams made it to the NCAA Tournament three times and the Sweet Sixteen twice. Similarly, in his first seven seasons, Turgeon made the NCAA Tournament three times and the Sweet Sixteen once.
"Gary went through the same thing at Maryland for a while and then all of a sudden they had some breakthrough NCAA Tournaments where they won a few games and got to the Sweet Sixteen, so if Maryland can bounce in there this year and get a few wins in the tournament, get to the Sweet Sixteen, that would be wonderful," Kennedy said.
Turgeon has put together a roster Kennedy believes can succeed in the tournament. Junior Anthony Cowan and sophomores Bruno Fernando and Darryl Morsell bring some experience, while freshmen Jalen Smith, Aaron Wiggins, Eric Ayala and Serrel Smith Jr. all contribute regularly. Kennedy believes the current roster could do well in this year's tournament and could do even better in next year's tournament if the team sticks together.
However, Kennedy acknowledged it may be unlikely that Fernando will return to Maryland next season, as the Angola native seems to be a consensus first-round pick in the upcoming NBA Draft. Even without Fernando, he still believes the Terps have something to look forward to next year.
"Now, if these six kids return next year [without Fernando], they have a chance to almost be a Final Four type team in my opinion," Kennedy said.
The Terps will also be adding three key recruits for the 2019-20 season: Makhi and Makhel Mitchell and Donta Scott. The Mitchell twins, both of whom stand 6-foot-9, played their final year of high school ball at Woodrow Wilson High School in Washington, D.C. Scott is a 6-foot-7 forward out of the Imhotep Institute in Philadelphia.
"That's all they need, they've got the pieces and when you take a look at the season, if you come out of a season in the Big Ten and you're a four or a five seed in the NCAA Tournament, you had a hell of a year," Kennedy said.
For more from Kennedy, listen to the full interview here:
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