Maryland's Stoglin wants to show he can do more than score

Undersized guard knows he needs to prove he can help run an offense if he hopes to fulfill dream of playing in the NBA

March 07, 2012|By Jeff Barker, The Baltimore Sun

COLLEGE PARK — — Terrell Stoglin picked up a red pen when he was in first grade, and out poured his vision of future basketball glory on page after page that he stapled together and proudly presented to his parents.

"No one can stop him," Terrell wrote about Terrell on lined construction paper, the sort children use to practice the alphabet. "Watch out Michael [Jordan] because this boy is taking over your sport!"

Fifteen years later, Maryland's 6-foot guard covets the NBA and plays with audacity — as if he were still running in pickup games through southern Arizona's desert heat, needing feverishly to prove he can outplay the bigger boys. He seems constantly in attack mode. His scoring acumen and brashness — few college guards are tougher or more self-assured with the ball — pushed the depth-challenged Terps (16-14, 6-10 Atlantic Coast Conference) to multiple early-season wins and often kept them competitive in other contests. While his shooting percentage dipped late in the season and his shot selection was questioned by coaches, Stoglin (21.2 points per game) enters Thursday's ACC tournament opener against Wake Forest (4-12, 13-17) in Atlanta primed to become Maryland's first conference scoring champion since Joe Smith in 1995.

Stoglin, who was voted second team All-ACC by media members, said his play has been misunderstood. "People think they know my game. They don't," he said in an interview following a recent practice. "I'm a great passer. I want people to say 'He's a great player,' not just 'He's a great scorer.' I hate that."

Stoglin's combination of brazenness, ambition and talent raise intriguing questions about how long the sophomore — who for years wore a headband honoring his idol, former NBA star Allen Iverson — will remain at Maryland and how effectively his prodigious scoring talents can be integrated into a team concept. Over the past 60 years, only one Maryland player — Bob Kessler in 1954-55 — has taken a higher percentage of the team's total shots than Stoglin, who attempted 30.5 percent in the regular season. Stoglin made and took more than twice as many shots as any of his teammates.

While balanced team scoring is popularly regarded as a basketball ideal, Stoglin and his father, Joe, say Terrell hoisted up an outsized number of field-goal attempts — he took 20 3-pointers in a double-overtime loss to Miami — because that is what the team required. He is averaging just under two assists, and had no assists in six games.

"Right now they need his scoring so bad," said Joe Stoglin, the athletic director at a large Tucson charter school who has coached boys basketball and other sports and helps guide his son's career. "I know my son. He has not shown his full game yet. They don't have a clue. They don't understand what kind of player Terrell really is."

Apprised of his father's comments, the younger Stoglin nodded his head vigorously. "That's an honest statement right there," he said. "I'm a point guard. I just want to be in position where I can show it."

Learning to trust

Stoglin was interviewed in the Comcast Center stands overlooking the court. He seems understated for such an aggressive player. Close up, he appears slightly smaller than his listed height of 6 feet 1. "I'll take 6-1," he said, smiling. Unlike many of his teammates, he has no tattoos. His father advised Terrell that tattoos could create an unfavorable impression on future employers, and Terrell listened. But he does sometimes wear glittery studs — he says they are fake diamonds — on both ears.

He spoke softly — often saying "Yes, sir" — and seemed to choose his words carefully when talking about sharing the ball. "I mean, it's a team effort in basketball. Just that I had no assists, I was passing the ball. A couple of passes it couldn't have been my" — he paused — "some of it couldn't have been my fault. At the same time, some of it probably was. You know what I mean?"

Maryland insiders agree that Stoglin is a better passer than he shows in games. Coach Mark Turgeon has often said Stoglin needs to learn to better "trust" his teammates in pressure situations.

"I think he's really tried to adapt," Turgeon said. "He's gotten better. I don't think there's any question about that. People see me yelling at him. I think we have an open, honest relationship."

Stoglin's season has been marked by attention-grabbing scoring bursts — he had 25 points in the second half of a victory over Colorado — and occasional brooding. Benched in the second half of a loss at Duke, he slouched, sulked and later tweeted his discontent.

"At the point I was tweeting, I wasn't thinking at all," Stoglin said, shaking his head. "It was just a tweet and then it blew out, and I was like, 'Oh man, I got to start thinking before I do things like this.' "

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