Rob Long: Rock Bottom?
After the Maryland Terps men’s basketball team obviously did not receive an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament, I turned my attention to the NIT Selection Show. Even though I thought they’d make it in, there was some doubt as you watched so many regular season conference champs lose in their tournament in the weaker conferences. This year, there were 13 automatic qualifiers for the NIT Tournament, second most since the tournament started using this process in 2006.
As the names of the schools began to appear, it was obvious that the Terps were snubbed from the secondary national tournament. There were 19 at-large spots to be handed out and the Terps did not receive one.
Whether you believe the Terps should have been in the NIT Tournament or not, it’s pretty sad that they did not get invited. The team who advanced to the Final Four of the tournament the year before did not even get invited to return. In fact, the Terps are the only team who advanced the the NIT Final Four the year before who did not receive an NCAA Tournament bid. That sounds like a program moving in the wrong direction.
Whether or not Maryland’s men’s basketball program has hit rock bottom, the public perception is not good. For a fan base that has been highly critical of Mark Turgeon and company, not making it to any post-season tournament in two of your three years is not good. No one’s looking at the fact that the program finished .500 in the ACC for the first time since Mark Turgeon took over. Fans want results and not playing deep into March are bad results.
The “Fire Turgeon” wagon is gaining momentum among the Terrapin Nation. Even though I am not on that wagon, I do not ignore the cry from the masses. Now, more than ever, those who believe that this program would be better off without Mark Turgeon have material.
It will not start with Mark Turgeon but I expect changes with the program. Those changes could come the way of transfers and/or coaching staff. Either way, you cannot come off of a disappointing season like this without shaking things up. If you don’t make moves, you send the message that 2013-14 was acceptable. If you send that message to an already restless fan base, you make you uphill battle in a new conference even more difficult.