Maryland men’s basketball season is only 33 days away, folks (29 if you count an exhibition game against Fayetteville State).
Testudo Times is ramping up our Terps basketball coverage starting today as one of the most highly anticipated seasons of Mark Turgeon’s coaching tenure rapidly approaches.
The Big Ten held its basketball media day in Rosemont, Illinois, Wednesday, and Maryland was a heavy topic of conversation and hype around the conference. Here’s some of what went down.
The best of what Turgeon had to say:
On the expectations for his team this season: “Yeah, we love it. We’re excited. Our guys only know one way, and that’s to work hard. Our culture is terrific right now. Our guys are in the gym early, in the gym late, in the gym with me during the day. They’re embracing it. We’re all embracing it. We want more, and we want to be great. We’re excited. We know we have a good team, and if we didn’t think we were good and we were picked second, we’d be worried. But we think we have a good team. We’ll see what happens and you’ve got to play the games. But we think we have a talented team that’s embracing the situation and looking forward to everything that comes with it.”
On how his team is different than a year ago: “We’re all about winning now, we were about surviving last year. Now we’re about winning at a high level.”
On the development of Anthony Cowan Jr.: “Anthony had a terrific summer. Going into his senior year, he made the decision he wanted to come back to Maryland and make an impact and have a legacy, so he has a chance to do a lot of things. He’s scored a lot of points, he has a lot of assists, he has a lot of steals, but he wants to win at a high level. So I think that’s really his biggest thing going into the season.
The thing with Anthony is we’re just trying to get him to quit turning the ball over so much, especially live ball turnovers. It’s something we’ve really worked on. He’s gotten better at it. He’s had some tremendous early season days for us. So you know, we’re expecting Anthony to be terrific.
And then he’s just a tremendous defender. I think for his size, I don’t know if there’s a better defender in the country for what he does.”
On the California Fair Pay to Play Act: “Yeah, I think it’s obviously a very complex issue. As a coach, you always want more for your student-athlete. I remember when I played, missing meals and not having enough money because you didn’t have time for a job. It’s a little different today than it was then. So you always want what’s best for the student-athlete. You want them to be comfortable. There’s a lot of pressure on them. They do a lot of great things for our university, especially my kids.
It’ll be interesting to see what happens. I think what we all want is just an even playing field when it’s all said and done. I know it’s going to be a process, and so it’ll be interesting to see what happens over the next three or four years.”
On Jalen Smith:
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Anthony Cowan Jr.:
On his decision to return this season: “Just a lot of different things I need to change up — well not necessarily things I need to change up, but just get better at. Obviously one of the biggest reasons I came back was just the team that I’m coming back to. I think the sky is the limit for this team, and I’m excited to get things going.”
On where he saw the greatest growth from Jalen Smith on the court this offseason: “Definitely on the lower block. Definitely just in his confidence in general. I think when he dedicated himself to the weight room, I think that showed that he can really bump with the bigs. And obviously, he always has an outside game, so I think his game is really coming all together.”
On how much this team talks about winning a Big Ten championship or going to the Final Four: “It’s most definitely a goal of ours, but our main focus is just to get better every day. We’re focused on our[selves] as a team and we’re locked in just improving every day and getting prepared for the season.”
On becoming more consistent offensively: “All of that is confidence. Just staying in the gym, and having great teammates like Anthony and all the other guys picking me up. That’s really all I can do, just keep playing basketball – I’ve been doing this my whole life so it’s about continuing to play through your mistakes.”