After a 14-1 start, wins over Iowa State and Michigan State, a top-15 ranking, and the hope of finally returning to the NCAA Tournament, many would assume Maryland is hitting their stride as they enter conference play. But despite their amazing success so far this season, head coach Mark Turgeon still thinks his team can do better.
Following their first ever Big Ten home conference game, a 70-58 win over Minnesota, Turgeon noted that his team can still play better.
"I do not think we are playing as well as we can play," Turgeon said Saturday afternoon. "We are playing well, but we have to get more of a rotation and we need to play more of a complete game while remaining consistent."
Despite their best start since the 1996-1997 season, the Terps still have room for improvement. On Saturday against Minnesota, inconsistent play allowed the Gophers back into the game several times, which included letting a 15-point first half lead dwindle down to just two before entering halftime with just a three-point edge.
"The only bad part of the game was their run in the first half, Turgeon said. "We talked about relaxing and playing better at the half and in the second half we still played really well by getting to the line and shooting less 3 pointers."
As they did in the Michigan State game, the Terps relied on getting to the free throw line in the second half to help propel them to their second conference victory of the season. After having just four attempts from the free throw line in the first twenty minutes, Maryland was able to get to the charity stripe 24 times in the 2nd half, converting 17 of those into points.
"At halftime we talked about getting to the foul line and not taking the first jumpshot, so we were much more patient in the second half and it showed by getting to the line," Turgeon said.
Of Maryland's 28 free-throw attempts, 13 came from freshman guard Melo Trimble, who led the Terps with 20 points.
"He's one of the best in the country and he's made the most free throws," Minnesota head coach Richard Pitino said following his team's loss. "That kid is going to be a very, very good player."
Pitino also noted just how good he through the Terrapins are as a basketball team following the game:
Richard Pitino calls #Terps "a top-10 team in the country."— Aaron Kasinitz (@AaronKazreports) January 3, 2015
"Their players made very good plays and you have to give them credit," Pitino said. "Even Dez Wells is very sneaky with his game and so tough. They have good talent and they're well coached. That is a nice recipe to win."
Maryland will try to build on their seven game win streak when they travel to Champaign, IL on Wednesday to take on Illinois.
"We have a lot of momentum so far, but we have to continue to win and continue to execute and defend the way we know how we can," said senior Dez Wells.
"We just have to keep getting better which we will," Turgeon said.
This year was already set to be a memorable one for Maryland, as they play in their inaugural B1G season. But if they can continue to improve while also winning, it could be memorable for being their most successful season in over a decade.