Maryland hasn’t had their starting point guard at all this season, up to this point, but tonight marks the triumphant return of Sophomore Pe’Shon Howard. Howard, who broke his foot less than two months ago, was supposed to be out until mid-January. He returned much earlier than expected as an early Christmas present for Terps fans.
The return of Howard means the Terps finally have a true point guard available for coach Mark Turgeon. Terrell Stoglin and Nick Faust had been sharing the duties before tonight. Even at times when Howard was in the game Stoglin would carry the ball up the court to set up the offense. Howard played 32 minutes tonight, a lot given his speedy recover, but after the game coach Turgeon said he expected to continue with a four-guard lineup.
The four guard lineup would be a combination of Stoglin, Howard, Faust, Sean Mosley and Mychal Parker. In the four guard lineup, the three big men will rotate in and out to stay fresh. However, things get complicated with the debut of Alex Len.
Len is set to return next Wednesday against Albany. Both players and coaches were raving about Len and what members of the media and fans should expect on his debut. All noted he looked great in practice. Terrell Stoglin even said he “looked dominant and hope he looks as good in the games as practice.”
Howard and Len provide instant depth for a team lacking it. With only 7 scholarship players before tonight, coach Turgeon had to make do with a patchwork lineup and occasionally using a walk-on.
The Terps were able to win tonight in Howard’s return, which was huge, especially considering the off-night from the ACC’s leading scorer Terrell Stoglin. Stoglin finished the night with 15 points – ending his streak of consecutive 20-point games at six – 5 rebounds and 3 assists. Ashton Pankey scored a career high – the third straight game setting or tying a career high in points – 17 points and also added 5 rebounds.
While it’s nice to see the return of Howard and the excitement that comes from Len, it’s still troubling that the Terps were unable to have more than a seven-point lead over a Radford team that had three wins and lost 9 in a row coming in to tonight’s matchup. The Terps struggled to defend the three in the first half, and struggled with free throws all night.
These are correctable issues, and ones that need to be taken care of before ACC play begins. It all begins with Albany on Wednesday. Follow Brendan Darr on twitter for more updates: @BrendanDarr1067