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Watch Mark Turgeon, Anthony Cowan & Bruno Fernando speak at Big Ten media day

Maryland’s head coach and top two returning scorers fielded questions with the season just weeks away.

NCAA Basketball: Big Ten Media Day Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports

Thursday marked the start of the annual Big Ten Media Days for college basketball, and Maryland men’s basketball sent a three-man contingent to Chicago.

Head coach Mark Turgeon took the podium in the morning, before later joining junior Anthony Cowan Jr. and sophomore Bruno Fernando on the BTN set later in the day. The morning kicked off with Cowan being named to the preseason All-Big Ten team. Then he and Fernando followed up with their entrance to the event.

Turgeon’s televised presser was brief, and he opened by noting that this will be the centennial season on Maryland basketball and followed by talking about the youth on this year’s roster. The Terps welcome a six-man freshman class, the top-ranked class in the conference and ranked No. 7 nationally. Beyond that, they have three sophomores, one junior and one senior on scholarship.

“We’re young, but my young guys are good,” Turgeon said. “We might be the youngest team I’ve ever had. But we’re talented, and they’re fun to coach and they’re working hard. We’re excited for the year. And it should be a really fun team to watch because of their skill set and their length and their ability to play together.”

Turgeon then took questions about practice rules, the ongoing trial resulting from the probe into college basketball and his non-conference slate. Maryland will play just an 11 games out of conference this year, but they’ll take on Virginia in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge at home and play Cinderella Final Four squad Loyola-Chicago in Baltimore.

The Terps have two Baltimore products on the team in sophomore Darryl Morsell and five-star freshman Jalen “Sticks” Smith, both from Mount Saint Joseph. Turgeon expressed an excitement both in getting them in front of their hometown crowd and for the test against coach Porter Moser’s veteran Loyola squad.

“We’ll be able to get [Morsell and Smith] home and play there. We have a great fan base in the city of Baltimore, so we’re looking forward to that,” Turgeon said. “I go way back with Porter, from Missouri Valley days, when I was at Wichita State and he was at Illinois State. ... It’s a great game for us.

“We really tried to play a nice non-conference schedule, and to add that game in to Baltimore is terrific for us. Hopefully by then, my young team will be experienced—we’ll have a few games under our belt—but we’re looking forward to that challenge.”

Turgeon later joined Cowan and Fernando on set, but largely took a back seat to the two players. The set kicked off with the trio taking questions about their summer training tour through Italy, then touched on Fernando testing the draft process and Cowan’s usage last season.

There was nothing but glowing reviews of Italy—both of the training tour and the views—before attention turned to Fernando and his draft process. The 6’10 center returned for his sophomore season after entering without an agent. The Terps lost Kevin Huerter and Justin Jackson to the NBA, but held onto Fernando.

“Honestly, I don’t think any team told me anything specific to work on,” Fernando said of the process. “I think the main thing was, they just kept telling me to be myself and doing the things I do. Obviously, I can’t forget what it was last year, you know. Just keep playing defense, keep being vocal on the court and bringing the energy I bring every time. That’s really one thing teams emphasized for me to keep doing.”

Cowan then brushed off concerns about how many minutes he played last season and any toll that took. The 6’0 guard was on the floor 92.1 percent of the time for the Terps last season, the 21st-highest usage in the nation, and played a conference-high 96.7 percent of minutes in Big Ten play. Those numbers should come down this year with more guards in the rotation.

“I think it was important for me to be on the court last year,” Cowan said. “Maybe this year, we have a little bit more depth so you never know how it’s going to go. ... We brought in another guard, Eric Ayala, a really good guard. Maybe gives me the opportunity to come off the ball a little bit, however coach wants to play it. It definitely helps a lot, maybe takes the ball out of my hands a little bit.’

The trio then took turns with glowing reviews of Smith, a five-star power forward and the jewel of Maryland’s class. Smith is a player Fernando described as “versatile” and Cowan said adds something on both ends of the floor. Turgeon had no shortage of positive attributes for the freshman and is excited about the burgeoning relationship between Smith and Fernando.

“[Smith is] very talented, very long, very skilled, tremendous shot blocker, tremendous rebounder, really good around the basket, but can shoot the three also,” Turgeon gushed. “I just think him and Bruno are going to have a really great relationship. A lot of high-low stuff between those two guys, they’ve already shown it in practice.”

Turgeon then expressed confidence in Morsell’s improvement as a shooter, before Cowan and Fernando closed their set time by expressing that it’s going to take consistency from the team to make it back to postseason.