In impressive victory, Terps show they don't miss Terrell Stoglin


Even without Faust, team did a solid defensive job on Virginia Tech's Erick Green

  • Terps center Alex Len, left, defends against Virginia Tech guard Erick Green in the first half at Comcast Center.
Terps center Alex Len, left, defends against Virginia Tech… (Lloyd Fox, Baltimore Sun )
January 06, 2013|By Don Markus | The Baltimore Sun

Welcome back to Morning Shootaround, a regular feature this season the day after Maryland basketball games. While we can’t bring you into the Terps' lockerroom after games – reporters haven't been allowed in there since the last couple of years under Gary Williams – we will recap what was said in the press conference afterward by Maryland coach Mark Turgeon and his players. We will give some of our own insight into what transpired on the court during the previous day’s game and what the Terps will be working on at practice looking ahead to their next game.

Maryland 94, Virginia Tech 71
Saturday at Comcast Center

The Terps certainly answered some of their skeptics who questioned the soft non-conference schedule Turgeon put together for his young team. Again, the second-year Maryland coach showed that he knew what was best for his team.

About the only problem with opening the Atlantic Coast Conference portion of their schedule with a 23-point win is that the Terps again didn't get to face a team of their caliber in a close game. But Maryland looked like an upper-tier ACC team, toying with – and then eventually running over – an undermanned bunch of Hokies at home.

I am not sure if Maryland is deserving of the unofficial title as the best unranked team in the country, but the Terps have to be in the discussion. They will probably stay unranked for another couple of weeks, possibly longer. As of this week, Maryland’s five votes in the writers’ poll put them 11th of the 12 teams that received votes but were not in the Top 25, and the five in the coaches’ poll made them eighth among 13 not ranked.


Terrell who?

After Terrell Stoglin was suspended for a year last spring and quickly opted to put his name in the NBA draft, many wondered how the Terps would replace the ACC’s leading scorer. While many believed it was going to be addition by subtraction, Turgeon still had to account for nearly 22 points a game.

Though Turgeon didn’t know at the time he was going to add transfers Dez Wells and Logan Aronhalt, he also didn’t know how quickly any of the four freshmen he had signed would adapt to the college game, specifically to the ACC.

Stoglin, who is now playing in Greece, has not been missed at all, and Maryland’s newcomers accounted for an astounding 72 points Saturday – including 53 by the freshmen. They also had 28 of the 40 rebounds and 10 of the team’s 18 assists.

Turgeon made an interesting comment about his team’s depth, particularly in light of the fact that both Len and Wells, Maryland’s two top scorers this season, got off to slow starts before reaching double figures (Len with 16 and Wells with 14) in the latter stages of the game.

“I don’t know who our best players are,” Turgeon said. “I think Dez when the game is on the line can get the foul line and can get to the rim. Alex, when he’s playing great, there’s separation. Shaq [Cleare] is coming on. I think we all feel good as coaches, whoever we put in can handle the situation.”

Just as importantly, the players have confidence in their teammates as well. One of the biggest problems with Stoglin last season was that his perceived selfishness stemmed in part – maybe in large part – to the fact that he didn’t trust that the other Maryland players could score.

Now it’s completely turned around. At one point Saturday, Turgeon had essentially three starters – Len, Wells and sophomore Nick Faust, who sat out most of the game with back spasms – on the bench in the second half as the Hokies were trying to make a run.

But Aronhalt hit a 3-pointer and freshman guard Seth Allen, who would lead Maryland with a career-high 21 points (with Jake Layman scoring a career-high 20 starting in place of Faust), made a layup after a turnover.  Threat ended.

“The great thing about this team is that on any given night, anybody can go out and score 20, 25 points,” said Wells, who finished with 12 points. “You can’t hone in one person. You have to play everybody straight up. If they double-team Alex, you have make them pay for it by knocking down an open shot.”

Len’s learning curve  

While Len didn’t have a monster game – he finished with 16 points, nine rebounds and a block, though he altered the trajectory of several shots - the 7-1 sophomore center was a lot more active than he had been the previous two games against Delaware State and IUPUI.

Asked about his recent mini-slump that frustrated Turgeon to the point that he refused to call plays for his emerging star, Len said, “It was just the learning process, the season is so long, I just had to continue to work hard. Maybe I just lost a little confidence. ”

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