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Elfin: Things Were Going Well For Maryland Until The Wheels Fell Off

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Although his Terps were bypassed for both the NCAA Tournament and the NIT in March despite a 17-15 record during his debut season, it had been a pretty good spring for Maryland men’s basketball coach Mark Turgeon.

Heading into his second season since succeeding College Park legend Gary Williams, Turgeon had assembled a terrific recruiting class with the addition of shooting guard Sam Cassell Jr.

Cassell, son of the longtime NBA player and current Wizards assistant coach, was the final signee of a group that’s headed by center Shaquille Cleare and also includes power forwards Jake Layman and Charles Mitchell and shooting guard Seth Allen.

The incoming shooters figured to be bit players as freshmen since Terrell Stoglin, the ACC scoring champion, had opted against leaving for the NBA. But on Monday came word that Stoglin and fellow sophomore guard Mychal Parker, who had announced he was transferring three weeks earlier, had both been suspended for the 2012-13 season for violating the university’s student-athlete code of conduct. With that development, Stoglin did a 180 and placed his name into consideration for the NBA draft.

If that wasn’t enough bad news, sophomore point guard Pe’Shon Howard was arrested early Sunday morning for disorderly conduct.

Assuming Howard will be eligible to play next season, he and rising sophomore Nick Faust, who filled in admirably in 2011-12 while the former missed 18 games with foot and knee injuries, will handle the playmaking duties with the freshmen shooting guards sharing time in Stoglin’s spot.

As hard as it is to lose the first Terp to lead the ACC in scoring since Joe Smith, the NBA’s top overall pick after that 1994-95 season, there is an element of Albert Haynesworth/Nick Young and JaVale McGee addition by subtraction in Stoglin’s exit.

Stoglin often drove Turgeon crazy with his shoot first and then shoot again mentality. The Tucson native took more than twice as many shots as any teammate while scoring nearly a third of Maryland’s points. Only Bob Kessler in 1954-55, the season before Cole Field House (Comcast Center’s predecessor) opened, topped Stoglin’s share of team scoring in school history.

The undermanned Terps, who lost three recruits when Williams unexpectedly retired a year ago this week, needed every bit of Stoglin’s scoring to remain competitive in the ACC last season.

But with Faust and frontcourt classmates Alex Len and Ashton Pankey having gained unexpected experience last year, forward James Padgett returning to be the senior leader, and Howard (theoretically) running the offense, the freshmen-laden Terps should be more balanced in 2012-13. And who knows? Maybe they’ll even be a better team. They’ll certainly be almost wholly Turgeon’s Terps since Padgett and Howard will be the only ones who played more than three minutes for Williams.

As Allen, Stoglin’s possible replacement, told The Baltimore Sun, “It would’ve been great to play with Terrell. Don’t get me wrong. (But) it’s a bigger opportunity for me. One door closes and a new door opens.”

Or as Turgeon might have been thinking when informed of the Stoglin suspension by athletic director Kevin Anderson, “Don’t let the door hit you on the way out, Terrell.”

David Elfin began writing about sports when he was a junior at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School. He is Washington’s representative on the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee and the author of seven books, most recently, “Washington Redskins: The Complete Illustrated History.” A pre-game regular on 106.7-The Fan the last two Redskins seasons, he has been its columnist since last March.

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