Yesterday, Jon Rothstein of CBSSports.com reported that the Maryland Terrapins would be playing Winthrop at some point in the 2014-2015 season. While the date wasn’t specified, the Terrapins will at least be playing the South Carolinian’s in College Park.
Winthrop adds another team to Maryland’s soon-to-be-finished schedule, which also includes:
CBE Hall of Fame Classic: Iowa State, Arizona State and Alabama
Big Ten-ACC Challenge: Virginia
At Comcast: Michigan, Minnesota, Northwestern, Wisconsin, Winthrop, Fordham
On the Road: Illinois, Iowa, Ohio State, Purdue
Home+Home: Indiana, Michigan State, Nebraska, Penn State, Rutgers
I already know what people are going to say, that Turgeon whipped out a bag of marshmallows, threw them into the microwave, grabbed the bag and submitted it as his own schedule. I know, you were going to say exactly that. While it’s true that this schedule is shaping up to be the rival of any memory foam you’ve ever encountered, this is pretty much what Maryland needs with the roster they’ve got right now.
First and foremost, Winthrop isn’t Fordham, even though KenPom has them ranked lower (220th). Winthrop is a pretty challenging team, and maybe even a tournament one. They return three of four starters, and all of them shoot 39% or better from long range. Yes, they play in an atrocious conference, but they were 20-13 last season and right on the cusp of the NCAAT. They would’ve been in the tournament last year had they not lost to Coastal Carolina in the Big South championship (that Coastal Carolina team was good, too!).
Maryland should be able to win on talent alone, but they need to face a team like Winthrop — a variable look that isn’t so tough there’s a good chance they could lose but is challenging enough to push a young club forward. Everyone wants to schedule tough, but with this roster if you schedule tough you stand a good chance of getting beaten down. Maryland isn’t extremely young, but they have youth at two of the most important positions on the court (point guard and center). When you’re first learning to swim, you do it at the pool, not the ocean.
Turgeon wants his team to go into Big Ten play confident with a lot of wins under their belt; the same strategy tried during Alex Len’s first season. It wasn’t enough to get him to the NCAAT, but it was the closest he’d gotten so far. It’s a different team, but there’s a chance the strategy could work out this time.