The Odd Couple
New coach Mark Turgeon and little big man Terrell Stoglin are leading the Terps.
Unlike with Maryland’s football coach, Randy Edsall, the reception at Maryland has been accepting of Turgeon, who’s piloted the Terps to a 16-11 record and 6-7 ACC stance. Maryland’s slim chances of making the NCAA tournament are slowly slipping away. But in a transition year, Turgeon has been fairly pleased, given the circumstances.
“It’s been a pretty good year,” said Turgeon, who has student fans dressing up in suits to emulate him in the stands. “We’ve had some ups and downs, some injuries. We’re an inconsistent team and it’s costing us. It’s a difficult schedule but every game, we’re getting a little bit better. The kids are buying in and it shows. They’ve gotten better defensively, with preparation. They’re battling, and we’ve made a lot of strides in a lot of areas.
“It’s been a good transition. One thing we’re not trying to think about is wins and losses. I knew the first year wasn’t going to be easy.”
Far from easy is right. The Terrapins started the season with just seven scholarship players. In an injury-riddled year, the most prominent player to miss games has been sophomore point guard Pe’Shon Howard (6.5 points, 3.7 assists, 32.9 minutes a game) who missed the first nine games with an injury and is now out for the rest of the season after suffering tearing his ACL.
The Terps won seven straight nonconference games in December, but have struggled to establish any consistency in the ACC schedule. One game, they’re on—hammering Boston College 81-65, another game they’re off—getting blown out by Virginia 71-44 recently.
Senior Sean Mosley (10.1 ppg, 4.9 rpg) and junior James Padgett (9.1 ppg, 5.7 rpg) have played mature roles, but with players such as work-in-progress 7-footer Alex Len (6.2 ppg, 2.1 bpg) still developing, the Terps haven’t been able to hold strong with the Dukes and North Carolinas.
And that’s the mindset, the goal: eventually beating the ACC goliaths and restoring Maryland’s national notoriety.
“You see Duke and North Carolina when you’re little watching and think, ‘I want to play against them, I want to beat them.’ We’ll get there eventually,” Stoglin reassured. “We’re a young team. We understand that we have to work hard to get to where we eventually want to be. We’re feeding off each other.”
Stoglin is on pace to be an ACC first teamer with his score-at-will play this season following a freshman campaign that saw him average 11.4 points a game.
“With this team, sometimes he’s been the only guy who can get it done,” Turgeon said of trusting Stoglin with the ball in his hand late in a game. “Earlier in the year, the kid carried us in games and put up big numbers. He can really score. I wasn’t good enough to know what it felt like every time you touch it, to know how to score.”
“My teammates look at me at the end of games because they know I can score. Basically, they trust me,” Stoglin said. “But a good player has to be able to get his teammates involved. I’m understanding that.”
This season, there have been glimpses, but hardly any indication that Maryland is getting close to being a premiere team. But perhaps in a transitional, struggling season, the best inspiration can come from losses
In an 83-74 loss to North Carolina earlier this season, UNC player John Henson dunked the ball when the game was practically over with the time winding down—a disrespectful showboat move that led Turgeon to express his frustration to Roy Williams almost immediately after it happened.
“I didn’t like the dunk, Coach [Williams] knows that. There’s no need for it,” Turgeon said. “But we’re going to be good soon. The world is round.”