Maryland-Alabama Preview

BY foxsports • November 16, 2011

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 roster.

The No. 16 Crimson Tide are the only ranked team in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off tournament, which they'll begin against the Terrapins on Thursday.

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 Releford.

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 starts.

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 opener.

"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 home.

"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.

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