St. Thomas/U.S. Virgin Island -- For the next six days, the Maryland Terrapins basketball program will be residing in St. Thomas on the U.S. Virgin Islands at the Paradise Jam tournament.
But the focus of Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon's team during their first full day on the island was not to relax and enjoy the balmy weather and beautiful beaches, but instead have his Terps' basketball team head to a familiar place: the gymnasium.
The locale may have been very different - St. Thomas instead of College Park, Md. - but the goal and objective certainly remained the same.
Turgeon emphasized the importance of team defense, which remained Maryland's primary focus during a spirited 90-minute practice session at the Sports & Fitness complex in preparation for its opening game against Marist on Friday, Nov. 22 at 4 p.m. EST.
"Defensively, we practiced well today," Turgeon said. "We expect Marist to have a really good transition offense and they will compete really hard. We need to defend well."
Maryland's high octane offense has averaged 75.7 points per contest during its first three games, but defensively the Terps have allowed 70.7 points per game.
"We were working on team defense," sophomore forward Jake Layman said after practice. "We work on it every day and are taking the necessary steps to get better. It's been our focus. We know and understand that we have to play better defensively."
Maryland arrived in St. Thomas on schedule Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. Atlantic time... The Terps will be joined by the other participating schools at a 'Welcome Party' Thursday evening ... When asked about the trip, many of the members of the men's basketball team referred to it as a "business trip." Layman shared that what he enjoys best about being on road is how the team can spend time together on-and-off the court: "We are a close-knit team and enjoy being together," said Layman, who leads the team in scoring (15.7 ppg) and has connected on 9-of-19 from three-point range.