Listening to Mark Turgeon and Terrell Stoglin talk when the season began, you didn't know which would happen first -- the new coach sending the sophomore point guard packing or the sophomore point guard doing his best imitation of a Maryland football player by getting out of College Park as soon as the season was over.
There are still several months left for Turgeon and Stoglin to either co-exist or kill each other, at least figuratively speaking. But what we have witnessed the past few weeks could have a rather significant impact on what kind of season the Terps have, and whether or not Stoglin follows the path of John Gilchrist or Greivis Vasquez.
Watching Stoglin reminds me of those two Maryland point guards at a similar stage in their college careers.
Gilchrist, taking over for Steve Blake, had the talent but lacked the maturity after leading the Terps to an ACC tournament championship as a sophomore. By the time Gilchrist had finished his junior year, Gary Williams had enough of Gilchrist's mood swings and selfishness and didn't mind seeing him leave.
Vasquez appeared to be heading down the same path, but playing with his national team in Venezuela forced him to grow up on and off the court and he eventually became one of the best all-around guards to play at Maryland.
It is why Vasquez is in the NBA, about to begin his second season with the Memphis Grizzlies. It is part of the reason Gilchrist's career might be over after a knee injury last season cut short his last season in Australia, having already exhausted chances in Israel, France, Latvia and even spending time in the NBA's D-League.
After Stoglin scored 31 points in Maryland's win over Notre Dame on Sunday at the Verizon Center, Irish coach Mike Brey called him the "World B. Free of College Park" and also compared him to former NBA gunner Vinnie Johnson. I know Brey meant it as a compliment, but I have a feeling neither World nor The Microwave were Turgeon's favorite players.
Turgeon seems more like a John Stockton and Steve Nash kind of guy to me.
Turgeon has gone out of his way to be complimentary of Stoglin the past couple of weeks, knowing that he really has no other option than hope the kid buys into his offensive system as well as the coach's insistence that his players expend as much effort defensively as offensively. To his credit, Stoglin is playing more consistent defense and taking fewer bad shots.
With tonight's game against Mount St. Mary's starting a long homestand against teams Maryland can beat, Stoglin will have plenty of opportunities to hone his point guard skills without having to carry the Terps as he has all season. Getting center Alex Len back in a couple of weeks should also help Stoglin.
Last week, I watched an ESPN Classic rerun of the Maryland-UNC Wilmington NCAA tournament game from 2003. I had forgotten that Gilchrist was a freshman on that team, and how he played quite a bit in the second half after Blake fell into foul trouble. The left-handed shot, the penetration in the lane, the personality all reminded me of Stoglin.
On a much more talented team than Maryland has now, Gilchrist became the star as a sophomore. After he led Maryland on that incredible run through Greensboro in the ACC tournament, there was even talk of his being an NBA lottery pick. He wound up not even getting drafted.
I remember writing at the end of Vasquez's sophomore year about how he needed to do for the Terps that year in the ACC tournament what Gilchrist had done. He couldn't, but not making the NCAA tournament that year might have been the best thing to happen to Vasquez.
He spent that summer playing against the likes of Kobe Bryant as part of his national team. He worked on becoming a smarter, more disciplined player. He turned what I viewed as selfishness (and Williams always saw as passion) and went from ridiculed to respected over his last two years in College Park. He became a first-round draft pick and even played well in the playoffs last season.
Here's hoping that Stoglin can do the same and that he doesn't turn into the World B. Free of College Park. Or the next John Gilchrist.