Alabama could be poised to reach the NCAA tournament this season
for the first time since 2006.
Maryland, meanwhile, has a new coach and an inexperienced
The No. 16 Crimson Tide are the only ranked team in the Puerto
Rico Tip-Off tournament, which they’ll begin against the Terrapins
Alabama (2-0) is in its third season under coach Anthony Grant
and this looks like his best team. Three preseason All-SEC
selections are back – JaMychal Green, Tony Mitchell and Trevor
Green suffered a hyperextended elbow and did not play for the
final 10 minutes of Monday’s 74-57 win over Oakland, but Grant
indicated his top scorer is OK. The coach felt his team played well
in his star’s absence.
“It was good to see,” Grant said. “We are obviously a better
team with him on the floor, but I was really proud of the way our
young guys responded.”
Grant referred to Maryland (1-0) as one of the more storied
programs in the nation, but the Terrapins are in transition. Former
Texas A&M coach Mark Turgeon has replaced longtime coach Gary
Williams, and only one current player has made more than 15 career
Maryland is also without point guard Pe’Shon Howard, out up to
three months with a broken foot. His replacement, Terrell Stoglin,
came off the bench in Turgeon’s debut, a 71-62 win over UNC
Wilmington on Sunday.
Stoglin looked like Maryland’s best player with 22 points, and
could start Thursday. Turgeon said he was impressed with the
guard’s defense after not being happy in practice leading up to the
“I felt like I was more concentrated,” Stoglin said. “I wanted
to show coach that I wanted to play defense this game and I wanted
to get my teammates involved also.”
The Tide are playing a three-game November tournament for the
third straight season under Grant, going 2-1 in 2009 at the Old
Spice Classic and 0-3 last year at the Paradise Jam.
“When you look at the teams in this tournament it will be a
great opportunity for us to find out where we are as team against
great competition,” Grant said. “It’ll be a very tough test, having
to play three games in four days. You’ve got to be ready to go once
you get there, which can be difficult with a young team.”
Turgeon is also anxious to see how his new team fares away from
“We’ll have all our meals together, six days we’ll be together,”
he said. “It will be a great bonding experience for us and for me
to get to know the guys better.”
Maryland leads the series, 3-0, although these teams have not
met since the 1985-86 season.
This quarterfinal matchup is on the same side of the bracket as
the Colorado-Wichita State quarterfinal, which means one of these
teams will meet the Shockers on Friday. Alabama lost to Wichita
State in the NIT championship last season while Turgeon coached the
Shockers from 2000-07 before leaving for Texas A&M.