Before the season started, coach Mark Turgeon knew his program had to include both a schedule and a list of schools he could call if it needed to find a game on short notice. This is how all teams work, with the coronavirus pandemic forcing abrupt drop-outs if positive tests occur in programs. In Maryland, Director of Basketball Operations, Mark Bialkoski, tries to get around the uncertainty – to communicate with other programs and encourage flexibility.
After Monmouth canceled, Maryland planned for Towson to play the same day. But the day before the match, Towson also had to cancel. Turgeon said his staff spoke to about 15 or 20 schools looking for a new opponent. The Terps landed in a street game against James Madison this Saturday.
On Wednesday, George Mason canceled his Friday game in Maryland after a person in the Patriots program tested positive for the virus. This time the Terps already had a list of possible opponents who had tried to replace the Towson game, so Bialkoski scored a matchup against Saint Peter within 30 minutes.
“The players were probably upset for a second, but I told them if a game is canceled we will really try to find another opponent,” said Turgeon. “So I think they’re on board. Children go with the flow, man. “
While looking for games, Maryland’s assistants called other coaches they know. The staff look at the other games that have been canceled and point out the programs that are in a similar position to theirs. When asked what he’s looking for in rescheduling these games, Turgeon said, “Anyway we can get it.”
Notre Dame trainer Mike Brey recently tweeted: “This is not an exercise! [Notre Dame is] looking for an opponent 4./5. December. And we will travel … (of course, sure) Grab it and let us mature. “
Turgeon said Maryland called Notre Dame but a game against the Irish “just didn’t fit.”
Senior Guard Darryl Morsell heard of Towson’s cancellation at a pre-practice meeting Monday. He believes the staff sent players a message about the plan to play at James Madison and learned about the rescheduled St. Peter matchup through social media. Morsell said he knew if Maryland could train or play on a particular day, which could change unexpectedly.
“It was definitely different,” said Morsell. “We usually have everything planned, everything in a row. But with the cancellation and the changes, our practices have shifted and things like that. But it’s what we expected. When we got into this season we knew we were playing with a world pandemic, so we’re just trying to be as flexible as possible as a team. “
Maryland’s original schedule was four games in seven days, starting with the season opener on November 25th. But when the Towson game was canceled four days later and replaced by a matchup, the Terps had more time to practice and were free on Tuesday.
The adjusted schedule means the Terps will play their first street game earlier in the season than expected. The team will travel to Harrisonburg, Virginia to face the Dukes after playing against Saint Peter at 3pm on Friday. Terps players stated that based on their experience in AAU and previous college tournaments, they have no concerns about playing consecutive days.
“I thought it would be better to go the night before, feed the boys when we get there, and give them a good night’s sleep,” said Turgeon. “… We’ll treat it like a Big Ten tournament game. You play one day and the next day you wake up and go through things and play the game. “
Earlier this fall, a Maryland player caught the virus and then “it went a bit around our team,” said Turgeon. The terps paused the exercises but had no current coronavirus issues in the program. Maryland players are tested six times a week. At night, Turgeon said the staff are urging players to “control your bladder” by making smart decisions and not accidentally exposing themselves to the virus.
“This is something that we took for eight months,” said Junior Guard Aaron Wiggins. “And we love this game and want to be able to play. It’s obviously very different. It’s obviously tough. But we have people willing to make sacrifices, willing to stay as healthy as possible, and make sure we can play games. “