At 6:30 a.m. Saturday, Robert Carter Jr. said good morning to Xfinity Center five and a half hours before tip-off time, and an hour and a half before team walk-throughs.
"Robert works so hard," said coach Mark Turgeon. "I walked in for eight o'clock walk-throughs this morning and Robert was already in a full sweat."
In just 23 minutes, the 6'9 forward looked like an NBA talent in his 25-point, 5-rebound, 2-steal domination of Ohio State's defense on Saturday, maybe due in part to devoting pregame hours to hone his craft.
"[I was] just working on my game," said Carter. "I watched film last night, and this morning I just really wanted to get in and work on some things I thought Ohio State was gonna do to us."
Though Carter was the first one in the gym, he wasn't alone for very long. Teammates, including fellow transfer Rasheed Sulaimon, stepped in at around 7.
"At least a third [of the team was there]," said Sulaimon. "Me, Melo [Trimble], Jake [Layman], Diamond [Stone], Jaylen [Brantley], Jared [Nickens], a lot of the guys were here. We all wanted this one badly and it feels good to bounce back."
Sulaimon did in fact bounce back, and did so in astoundingly efficient fashion, shooting 9 of 10 from the field for 22 points, his highest total of the season. He dished the ball out well too, adding 5 assists to Trimble's 9.
The two transfers have been just as valuable as Maryland's most talked-about get: former five-star recruit Diamond Stone, who's having a monster 13.7-point, 5.8-rebound year.
Sulaimon is scoring 10.9 points per game on 50.7 percent shooting from the field and a nearly identical (fractions) 50.7 percent from 3-point range. He's serving a nice role as Trimble's assistant in the passing department, delivering 3.7 assists per game and is truly meshing alongside the Player of the Year candidate.
Carter is always a double-double threat, putting an average of 13.4 points and 6.6 rebounds per game on the stat sheet. He's shooting 57.7 percent from the field and spacing the floor for all of Maryland's other weapons.
What's not shown by the numbers is the work the two put in as part of the team's group of upperclassmen leaders, and coming in to shoot around early is just part of it.
"Me, [Rasheed], Jake along with a couple of other guys we're the leaders of this team," said Carter. "We were with each other before the game and told each other it starts with us and in order for our team to dominate, we have to be dominant."
Carter, a film junkie and self-proclaimed "basketball nerd," oozes a contagious sense of confidence.
"Some days my shots gonna be really good, some days my shot's gonna be just good," said Carter.
That state of mind should stick well with Maryland's youth, but it's more than just talk in regards to Carter's performance. His rationale has been justified by his actions as the junior has only has one glaring bad shooting game, hitting just 3 of 12 attempts in a 13-point win at Northwestern. But even if his offense is "just good," he does so much to contribute on the floor.
"Rob is a mismatch problem," said Sulaimon. "Not many 4-men in the country can guard both on the interior and guard on the interior, and he has the talent to be efficient on both levels."
Nobody could have predicted the impact the two transfers have made on this team, which just two months away from the madness holds on to final four and championship game promise. With a pair of wise-beyond-their-years leaders at the helm, it's hard to overlook the Maryland Terrapins.