WASHINGTON – It is what it is, say Maryland men’s basketball coach Mark Turgeon and freshman guard Kevin Huerter.
The two expressed their frustration over the Big Ten’s decision to overlook the Terrapins’ three starting freshmen for the conference’s all-freshman team, especially on the brink of the team’s first game in the 2017 Big Ten Tournament.
“They had a great year, won a lot of games. It is what it is,” Turgeon said in a press conference in College Park, Maryland, on Wednesday. “I’m disappointed for them, but hopefully it puts a chip on their shoulders.”
In an uncharacteristic move, Turgeon posted a tweet after the Big Ten announced its all-conference teams and individual award winners on Monday. The Big Ten all-conference teams were selected by the conference’s coaches.
“I guess 24 wins, 12 league wins & 8 road wins while starting 3 freshman doesn’t result in anyone being on the @bigten all-freshman team…,” Turgeon tweeted.
Turgeon felt compelled to post his opinion publicly because he wanted to stick up for his young players who helped lead the team to a 24-7 overall record that lifted the Terps to a No. 3 seed in the conference tournament.
“I stated the facts, and I’m just proud of our guys,” Turgeon said.
Freshmen Anthony Cowan, Kevin Huerter and Justin Jackson have not only started most of the Terps’ games, but have made an impact in scoring, rebounding and assists.
Huerter, who has started all 31 games, said the players loved their coach’s tweet. He appreciated his coach’s willingness “to fight for us,” but the Big Ten’s omission of the freshmen still felt like a snub.
“We just felt that we had a really good year. Specifically, us three were talking about it because if any one of us had gotten on it we would have been happy,” Huerter said. “We thought there should have been at least some recognition… but it is what it is.”
The Terps’ first postseason game is scheduled for Friday night against the winner of Thursday night’s Northwestern (No. 6 seed) versus Rutgers (No. 14 seed) matchup.
The Terps have had their fair share of close wins this season, including the team’s latest victory over Michigan State on Saturday. Maryland edged the Spartans 63-60, thanks to a buzzer-beating three-pointer from junior guard Melo Trimble that sent the Xfinity Center into celebratory mayhem.
“I’m hoping Melo’s shot that he made just kind of springboards us into a great postseason, because it was a feel-good, fun day for all of us and hopefully that just sticks with us for the next few weeks,” Turgeon said.
Maryland has won 10 games this season by six points or less. Turgeon said his team has been battle-tested in close games, and he expects his team to win those kinds of games.
Fortunately for Turgeon’s team, the likelihood of a tight game against either potential opponent is low considering Maryland won each regular-season game against the two teams by at least 10 points.
This marks the first year the Big Ten tournament is being held in Washington. Previously, the tournament had always been held in either Chicago or Indianapolis.
The proximity of the 2017 tournament to the University of Maryland campus provides the Terps with a slight home-court advantage compared to the conference’s other 13 teams.
“We’re excited about being at home, we’re really happy for our fans,” Turgeon said. “Some people who never had a chance to go might get a chance to go, (but) we don’t feel any pressure. We’re excited. I think our energy level is going to be terrific.”