By Chris Knoche
What a difference a night makes!
Barely 24 hours after the Maryland Terrapins were thrashed by the 15th ranked Alabama Crimson Tide they responded with a sizzling second half to overtake the Colorado Buffaloes in the consolation bracket of the 5 Hour Energy Puerto Rico Tip-Off tournament 78-71.
What made the final outcome so stunning was the fact that the Terps spent much of the first half of the game playing the same way they had against Alabama the night before. They missed defensive assignments, took questionable shots and went scoreless for minutes at a time. Colorado turned a 12-9 deficit into a 24-12 lead midway through the second half and the Maryland faithful that had made the trip must have felt like they were watching a bad re-run.
The Terps battled back a bit in the remainder of the half led by senior wing Sean Mosley but the Buffs perimeter game held them at bay for much of the half. A three pointer by Colorado reserve Shannon Sharpe in the last 5 seconds gave his team a lead of 34-26 at the break.
Lets rewind a minute
After the disappointing defeat to Alabama, Maryland Head Coach Mark Turgeon openly discussed the fact that his team lacked trust in one another and had been playing selfishly. He also mentioned the fact that he thought his team had been reading press clippings that said they would not be good this year and had bought into that.
Fast forward to halfime against Colorado
A desperate Turgeon pleaded with his team to buy into something different:
Any time there is a change in the Head Coach at this level there is a corresponding change in philosophy. There is no doubt that many of the returning Terp players many of whom might not ever have known who Mark Turgeon was prior to his hiring- have been slow to completely buy what the new staff has been selling.
He implored his team to buy in then and now. They appeared to do just that in the second half.
At the start of the second half it became apparent that Maryland enjoyed a host of advantages against Colorado on the offensive end. They were able to regularly attack the basket and create opportunities for one another and put forth a terrific effort on the glass. It would come down to whether the Terps would ever be able to stop the Colorado offense on a consistent basis.
Eventually it all seemed to click at the same time.
Maryland rode the insanely hot shooting of guard Terrell Stoglin and an excellent ten-minute defensive stretch in the second half to earn the win.
Stoglin was the same player who had shot 0-9 against Alabama the previous night. Held to just 7 points in the first half in this game, the sophomore guard got it going and kept it going against a handful of Buffalo defenders in the second. He dropped in 25 points after the break on a variety of stop and pop threes, attack the basket teardrops and an assortment of impossible to describe buckets to completely terrorize the Colorado defense.
By the time there was 6:00 to go in the game, the Terps had turned an 11 point deficit into a 67-60 lead and would hold off a late Colorado charge. Stoglin scored a career- high 32 points and tied the tournament record with 12 field goals. He had great help Mosley kicked in 16 points and freshman guard Nick Faust had 15 and did another solid job at his new point guard position.
Eventually the Terps were able to close the game out by combining just enough made free throws and just enough defensive stops to account for the final margin of 78-71.
For Mark Turgeons young club this would have to be seen as a stunning turnaround from the performance against Alabama. In that game this same team had shot a miserable percentage from the field and was lucky to cross the 40-point barrier in the last minute of the game.
Against Colorado the shot-making was contagious.
Colorado Head Coach Tad Boyle coincidentally a life long friend of Turgeon and former coach on Turgeons staff- repeatedly mentioned before the game that his troops could not expect that the Maryland backcourt of Mosley, Stoglin and Faust would struggle as they did in the Alabama game.
He proved to be prophetic.
Maryland will now advance to play a talented, albeit undersized, Iona team that had nationally ranked Purdue dead to rights in the first round before losing at the buzzer and then spanked Western Michigan this evening.
The Terps benefited from having a short memory in their resilient effort against Colorado. Ironically at this point this team might need to remember vividly- the things that they did to turn around the most significant win of their young season in preparation for their next game.