Maryland’s fast start could be deceiving
Mark Turgeon has worked magic in his second season at Maryland,
leading his young team to 7-1 start that would suggest the
Terrapins could be a force in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Or is it just an illusion?
”Our perception is a lot better than reality right now,”
Turgeon said Wednesday night after the Terrapins notched their
seventh straight victory, a 100-68 rout of Maryland-Eastern
Sure, Maryland’s victims include Morehead State, Georgia
Southern and LIU-Brooklyn. But the seven-game run – which followed
a season-opening 72-69 defeat against Kentucky – featured a 77-57
road win over previously unbeaten Northwestern in which the Terps
outscored the Wildcats 49-31 after halftime.
That was the game that got people saying this Maryland team just
might be pretty good.
”We played a nice game at Northwestern, really guarding them
and executing the second half. We showed strides,” Turgeon said.
”But we’ve got so far to go. I just don’t want people thinking
that we’re this great team. Because we’re not yet. We have a chance
to be. We’re getting better and improving each day.”
This squad has far more cohesion and depth than last year’s
team, Turgeon’s first since leaving Texas A&M to replace the
highly successful Gary Williams. Maryland went 17-15, leaning
heavily on the inside play of raw 7-foot-1 freshman Alex Len and
the outside scoring of guard Terrell Stoglin.
After leading the ACC in scoring as a sophomore, Stoglin was
suspended by Maryland for a full year for failing to comply with
the school’s Code of Conduct for athletes. Instead of serving the
suspension, he opted to hire an agent and enter his name into the
Fortunately for the Terrapins, Len is back – with more weight,
confidence and skill under the basket.
With Len, senior James Padgett and freshmen Charles Mitchell and
Shaquille Cleare jamming the middle, the Terrapins rank among the
national leaders in rebounding margin. Transfer Logan Aronhalt has
replaced Stoglin as the designated gunner, going 15 for 23 from
”I think Logan is probably the best shooter in the country if
you leave him open,” Mitchell said.
The strength of the team is its depth, which runs so deep that
Turgeon tossed three new starters into the mix against UMES. He
also intends to shuffle his lineup again Saturday against South
That kind of ploy might not have worked last year.
”I have never had a team like this, that really likes each
other as much as they do and are as deep as this team is,” Turgeon
said. ”There are no bruised egos because of who we started.”
Freshman guard Seth Allen, who received his first college start
Wednesday, said of the lineup change: ”Our team is so close, so
nobody really got mad or had a problem with it. Everybody was
pushing the new starting five to be great.”
Len played only 17 minutes. Xavier transfer Dez Wells, who
poured in 23 points against Northwestern and 25 in a follow-up win
over George Mason, scored seven in 19 unspectacular minutes.
Maryland’s defense wasn’t up to Turgeon’s standards, but he
wasn’t complaining too much after a 32-point win.
”Obviously we didn’t guard or rebound well,” he said. ”I’ll
give these guys a pass because we have been guarding our tails off
Maryland has five non-league games at home upcoming before
beginning ACC play on Jan.5 against Virginia Tech. By that time,
Turgeon hopes a team with five freshmen, six sophomores and only
two seniors (Padgett and Aronhalt) can grow up and fulfill
”Everybody expects us to be great. We’re a very young
basketball team,” Turgeon said. ”We’ve gotten the cart before the
horse. For these guys to do what they’re doing is pretty impressive
to me, but we’re nowhere near where we’re going to be.”