Alex Len, the Ukrainian Center suspended for the first ten games of the season, had been sitting on the sidelines waiting for his turn to finally get on the court. He did not disappoint in his first appearance, as he made an early impression with the crowd finishing off an alley-oop. Len finished the game with 14 points, 8 rebounds (four offensive) and 3 blocks. Len did also have two goaltending calls against him, one on each side of the court.
After the game, his teammates and coaches said he was nervous heading into the game, but you could hardly tell after he dunked home the opening basket of the game. Len moved well without the ball, and hit the offensive glass. Len’s presence helped open up the area around the basket for the other big men, who all played well tonight.
James Padgett, despite a relatively quiet first half, did well in the second half to assert himself. Coach Turgeon said he told Padgett that he helped seal the Terps win tonight with his second half performance. Padgett finished with 13 points, 7 rebounds and two blocks. Padgett said after the game that Len helped him get better looks at the basket at allowed him to be in a better position to get rebounds.
The guards also thought having Len on the floor helped their games out as well. When asked about Len’s presence, guard Terrell Stoglin said “Having Alex [Len] out there definitely gives us the confidence that if we take a shot, he will be there to get a rebound if we miss.”
Stoglin finished with 22 points, four rebounds and three assists. He hit six three-pointers tonight, a new career high. Pe’Shon Howard also had a stellar night, as he didn’t miss a shot, finishing with 11 points on 3-for-3 shooting (1-of-1 from 3) and hit all four of his free throw attempts. Howard also had a new Terps game-high with 8 assists, but should have finished with more. The Terps missed more than a few open opportunities that Howard set up around the basket. He did also finish with 6 turnovers, two were very sloppy in the back court, but overall a solid night for Howard in just his second game back.
Stoglin called out Howard after the game, saying he wanted to get 14 assists tonight, but fell short of his goal. Howard clarified, saying that “I was joking, but we all hold each other accountable.” Howard did say that “That was one of my goals. I wanted to get everyone involved.”
Accountability is a new blessing coach Mark Turgeon believes he has with nine scholarship players at his disposal. He mentioned before if someone made a mistake he had to live with and told them keep trying, but now with the extra bench help he substitute a player off “for the right reasons not just if they are tired.”
The new-found bench will be a huge asset to Maryland down the stretch, and coach Turgeon knows it. He joked to start his press conference that “the difference was – and I haven’t said it much this year – we had more depth than their team and they got tired.”
Turgeon will still need to work on his teams defensive deficiencies and they have a turnover issue to deal with. However, the Terps will still need to balance minutes with their new-found depth. That could also turn into an issue if someone feels they aren’t playing enough. But for one night, the Terps had their full squad and got their first double-digit win to build on.
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