By Chris Garman
All season, the talk surrounding the University of Maryland men's basketball team has been about its relative youth and inexperience. It's been an up-and-down season for the Terps, and their 69-58 loss to Boston College on Feb. 19 all but sealed their postseason fate.
The Terps have gone through stretches this season when it seemed as if they had things figured out, but then they'd turn around and lose a heartbreaker. Right before the Boston College game, Maryland pulled off an upset against then-No. 2 Duke. The win brought the Terps back into the picture for the NCAA tournament and had their fan base buzzing. But the loss at Boston College has likely bounced them out of contention, unless they make a run during the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament.
During a season when the ACC is not playing up to its traditional standards, the Terps do not have enough victories against top teams to help boost their tournament resume. Early during the season, head coach Mark Turgeon expressed displeasure with his non-conference scheduling, and now fans are seeing why.
So anything short of another win against Duke and an upset against the University of Miami during the conference tournament likely won't be enough to get Maryland to the Big Dance.
Even so, the Terps still have a lot to play for moving forward.
Every game and every week is a learning experience. Turgeon will continue to get a sense of how his team handles adversity and success.
Of course, Turgeon created some adversity leading up to the Duke game by suspending junior guard Pe'Shon Howard, while stripping senior James Padgett of his captaincy. The team responded well, picking up that signature victory against the Blue Devils.
Stripping Padgett's captaincy was an attempt to get others on the team to embrace a leadership role and step up their games.
"I wanted everybody to be a better leader," Turgeon said. "I just didn't think that we were doing a good job with it. Now, with that said, I've stripped it, but James is still trying to be a leader, Dez [Wells] is still trying to be a leader and I'm just trying to help out a lot more. James is a mature kid. He's handled it the right way."
Howard was reinstated following the Duke game and played against Boston College. Though his numbers do not jump out in the box score, he is important to the team. But Turgeon wanted to send his veteran a message, and he did so by not allowing him to celebrate the victory against the Blue Devils.
"He's been punished and we welcome him back with open arms," Turgeon said, "and hopefully he's learned from his mistakes and hopefully our other players have learned from his mistakes. We need a mature, confident Pe'Shon moving forward for us to finish strong here."
The Terps seem to respond well when facing adversity, although it's perplexing how much they struggle following major wins. After beating ranked opponents this season, the Terps followed up with double-digit losses.
Handling success is a major component in becoming a great team. And as the regular season nears an end, Turgeon will keep working with his young players to help them progress. Whatever happens in regard to the postseason will fall into place.
Follow Chris on Twitter: @Garmelo10.
Posted Feb. 21, 2013