Turgeon starts anew at Maryland in Big Ten debut
COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) Mark Turgeon's fourth season at Maryland is shrouded by uncertainty.
For one thing, the Terrapins are preparing to play basketball in the Big Ten for the first time.
More importantly, Turgeon and his squad have a big adjustment to make after five players transferred during the offseason - including starters Seth Allen, Charles Mitchell and Nick Faust.
Dez Wells and Jake Layman are the team's only returning scholarship guards, and starting forward Evan Smotrycz will be sidelined for around a month with a fractured foot.
After Gary Williams retired, Turgeon entered with hopes of carrying on the program's lofty tradition. But the Terps' only postseason appearance under his guidance was the NIT in 2013, and last year Maryland stumbled to a 17-15 record.
Turgeon said there is no more pressure to get the Terrapins into the NCAA tournament this year than any other year.
''I feel zero pressure because I believe in what we do, I believe in these guys,'' he said. ''I feel pressure every year to get the most out of my team, and most years we do that. Unfortunately, a lot of things are based on the NCAA tournament. That's our goal every year. You've got to be good, and you've got to be lucky. We'll see.''
Here are some things to know about the 2014-15 Maryland basketball team:
MOVING ON: Turgeon sees no reason to look back at last year's disappointing season, and he no longer feels the need to address the transfer of those five players, including guard Roddy Peters and forward Shaquille Cleare. ''It's a great opportunity for our guys,'' Turgeon said. ''Because the players coming in are so great, maybe that's why things happened the way they happened. I love my team. I've got 11 guys on scholarship that are all really good players and want to be here. So, we expect to have a great year. You guys getting the hint?''
FEELING MELO: The success of the team will hinge heavily on the play of freshman point guard Melo Trimble, a McDonald's All-America who won't have the luxury of blending into the mix. Instead, he will be running the offense from the outset. ''I thought coming in that I'd get some experience from Seth and Roddy and watch them play and get some pointers,'' Trimble said. ''It's a lot on me, but I've got the confidence to do it.'' His teammates believe, too. ''He's showing us that nothing is going to faze him this year,'' Layman said.
BIG CHALLENGE: Playing in the Big Ten will be a journey into the unknown for Maryland, which leaves the Atlantic Coast Conference for a more physical brand of basketball. ''We're going from a great league to another great league,'' Turgeon said. ''It makes it difficult when you have to learn 13 new teams. But I also think it's an advantage because there's 13 teams that don't know us.''
FILLING THE VOID: Playing without Smotrycz into December could be difficult. Or it could be a blessing. ''We have a lot of good players, and this will give me an opportunity to play them while Evan's out,'' Turgeon said. ''I think it will be great for us because a lot of the young guys will get more playing time now,'' Layman said. ''They can kind of get acclimated into a system and get more comfortable until Evan gets back.''
DEZ THE LEADER: Wells is being counted on this year to be a leader on the court, no small issue for a team with four freshmen. ''I just feel that I need to go out there and lead the guys in the best way I can, make sure they respond to each and every challenge that happens on the court,'' the senior said. ''And with every adjustment we make, I need to make sure that everybody is paying attention and focused on what we need to do next.''