College Basketball Nation: Pe'Shon Howard

1. New Butler coach Brandon Miller couldn't have had the summer lay out better for him with the decision by assistants Michael Lewis and Terry Johnson to stay on the Bulldogs staff. It's unclear if either had a shot to go with former coach Brad Stevens to the Boston Celtics, but the point is moot now. A much bigger coup is that the team's scheduled trip to Australia is still on for August. Miller didn't know the Butler players -- he came back to the school in April after spending a year at Illinois as a special assistant and the year before that doing pharmaceutical sales. The trip gives him 10 practices and four games Down Under. "I couldn't ask for a better time to be here,'' Miller said during our ESPNU college basketball podcast Tuesday. "We've got our Hinkle campaign (to update the famed arena), the Big East, and the new locker room, scoreboard and chair-back seating. The Australia trip is a huge advantage. It gives us a chance to bond."

2. The 2013-14 season will be crucial for the Atlantic 10's efforts to continue the momentum it built last season with La Salle's run to the NCAA tournament's Sweet 16 from the First Four. The top three teams return in Virginia Commonwealth, Saint Louis and La Salle, though the league loses Xavier and Butler. The A-10 will need that top three to stay on top, with a deeper second tier in Richmond, Saint Joseph's and Massachusetts. George Mason is the wild card in its first year in the league (Davidson joins in 2014-15). Dayton, Rhode Island, St. Bonaventure are all more than capable of cracking the aforementioned crew. The A-10 gets overshadowed by the Big East and might at times by the American. That's why this is an important year for the A-10 to re-establish its foothold in the East.

3. USC made it official with the transfer of UNLV's Katin Reinhardt. As with Darion Clark, transferring from Charlotte, Reinhardt will have to sit out next season. The Trojans, meanwhile, are trying to get Maryland transfer Pe'Shon Howard eligible immediately. Don't be surprised to see this kind of roster-building under Andy Enfield. He'll have to balance transfers, those who can play immediately and players he can stash for a year in his effort to create balanced classes. Oregon has made this an art in the Pac-12. Arizona State has gotten into the mix in attempting to climb up faster. Enfield is well-versed in compiling a roster in a variety of ways. To ensure USC is a viable player over the next two seasons, the Trojans will have to take some gambles.

Len, Maryland turn tables on NC State

January, 16, 2013
1/16/13
11:27
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COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- Imitation is the highest form of flattery, except, like a tree in a forest, does the flattery count if the imitator doesn’t know what he has copied?

Dereck Whittenburg will never buy a drink or even a seat when his alma mater is around. He showed up Wednesday at NC State’s game at Maryland unannounced but was warmly welcomed to a courtside seat anyway.

That’s how it goes when you remain part of the most iconic clip in any March Madness highlight reel. It was nearly 30 years ago that Whittenburg launched the air ball that ended up in the hands of Lorenzo Charles, who gave the Wolfpack an improbable national championship against Houston and sent Jim Valvano desperately and wonderfully searching for someone to hug.

But 30 years might as well be 300 to 19-year-olds whose long-term memory must be encapsulated in 140 characters.

And so when Alex Len, who dropped in Pe'Shon Howard's air ball with 0.9 seconds left, was informed that he had just turned the ironic tables on NC State, making like Charles to Howard’s Whittenburg to beat the Wolfpack, the Maryland sophomore was baffled.

“I didn’t know that," the Ukrainian-born Len said. “I don’t know about that game. I’ve never heard of it."

Here’s hoping he hit Google before hitting his pillow.

Because while neither the Terrapins’ 51-50 victory over NC State nor Len’s heroics enter the zip code of Whittenburg/Charles circa 1983 importance, in context of the here and now, this was big for Maryland.

The Terrapins earlier this season won 13 games in a row and earned a collective meh from the basketball cognoscenti. The best win in that run? Stony Brook, RPI 96.

And when Maryland entered ACC play and promptly lost to Florida State and Miami, most figured the Terps were exactly what they appeared -- a fun house mirror of accomplishment.

This game was a show-me game, one to give people a reason to believe there is some meat on the Terps’ 14-3 record.

So feel free to criticize the student court-storming -- because hey, college students acting goofy and crazy is unusual and all -- but this was more cathartic than celebratory.

It had been almost three years since the Terrapins beat a ranked team (topping Duke in 2010), and while this does not ink Maryland into the NCAA tournament or even offer the promise of a win in its next game (against North Carolina), it’s a step.

And steps right now are huge.

[+] EnlargeAlex Len
AP Photo/Patrick SemanskyTeammates mob Alex Len, center, after he hit what proved the winning basket with 0.9 seconds left.
“We haven’t won a big game here since Greivis [Vasquez] was here," Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said. “I didn’t come here to be mediocre and I know the guys didn’t come here to be mediocre. I asked them, in fact, before the game, 'Why did you come? Why did you come?’ I came here to do great things, and we haven’t done a lot of great things since I got here. This is one great thing."

It is one bad, but not lethal, thing for NC State.

Every game is something of a testing ground for the Wolfpack (14-3, 3-1 ACC) this season. Lauded early and heaped with expectation, NC State almost has to prove its value nightly. And so beating Duke became a must-win, and then winning here -- to prove that the team has the maturity to keep its head after a big victory -- was a must-win.

Instead, the Pack go home with a loss during which their usually fluid offense was rendered impotent and they never looked in sync or terribly aggressive.

It will raise some questions -- and some valid ones -- but it certainly doesn’t doom NC State.

“They all count as one," coach Mark Gottfried said. “I always say that, and there is a lot of truth to that. I’m not into the whole validating Duke thing. There are going to be teams that will finish near or at the top of this league that are going to lose some road games. We’re going to move on from it. I loved our effort, and we’re going to pick ourselves up and play on Sunday."

Strangely, Gottfried sounded almost more at ease with the loss than Turgeon did with the win.

Turgeon actually apologized at one point for not sounding more Pollyanna-positive after this victory. He had pointed out, in no particular order, how his team was 0-for-timeouts, failing to execute a single play he drew up during a break, including the final one (“It was supposed to be an up-screen, and they down-screened," he said); how his team remains so bewildered nearly three months in that he can’t risk giving players more information than they can handle and so his play calling remains fairly pedestrian; and how his team’s offense is anemic and he frankly has no clue why.

But Turgeon is brutally -- refreshingly? -- honest. His young team -- the Terps, now 2-2 in conference, start two freshmen and three sophomores -- is hardly a finished product, and anyone who walked out of the Comcast Center 100 percent convinced that Maryland had arrived isn’t paying attention.

Before the month is out, the Terrapins will go to North Carolina, Duke and Florida State, and all this good mojo might evaporate in a hurry.

So Turgeon is searching for signs and steps -- and in this game, he got a few.

“We grew up a little bit," he said. “It was a gut-check. We call it a hugger. There was a lot of hugging in the locker room, and it’s nice to have that."

The offense isn’t good -- these 51 points come on the heels of 47 points against Miami -- and there are plenty of mistakes to keep Turgeon active in the film session.

There’s also this: When it came time to win the game, Howard ran the wrong play, but he drove the ball. Against Florida State and against Kentucky, the Terrapins took jump shots and lost.

And when Howard’s ball floated in the air, Len was in the right position.

“My guy had gone over to help a little bit, and I was open," Len said of the first game-winning shot in his basketball life. “I honestly don’t remember it. I just grabbed the ball and put it back. Coach told me to go get the ball, so I did."

Whittenburg always joked that his shot was a pass, well designed and perfectly executed.

In the locker room after the game, Howard cracked the exact same joke.

Video evidence, of course, shows the contrary -- that both Charles and Len were in the right place at the right time.

Charles’ shot rewrote history.

As for Len’s shot? We’ll have to see whether it alters the course and confidence for a young Maryland team.

But it’s a step.


COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- A quick look at Maryland’s 51-50 victory Wednesday over NC State:

Overview: Somewhere, Jim Valvano is stunned.

Alex Len's last-second put-down of Pe'Shon Howard's air ball sealed the win for the Terrapins and was eerily similar to Valvano’s do-you-believe-in-miracles moment.

Only in reverse.

But this was more than just an exciting victory. This was a big one for Maryland, a team that has had a 13-game win streak this season -- yet still little, if any, heft on its résumé to show for it.

This win isn’t enough alone, but it is a step toward getting the Terps back into the NCAA tournament.

As for NC State, it’s not a killer, but the Wolfpack never looked comfortable in this game. A game after beating Duke, NC State knew it would have a target on its back visiting the hungry Terps, but never answered the bell.

Turning point: Let’s go with Len catching Howard’s air ball and putting it down for the game winner with 0.9 seconds left.

Seems like a good one.

Howard was falling out of bounds when he threw the ball up, but Len had position for the drop into the bucket.

Key player: Len only had 10 points, but he kept the Terps in this, stripping Richard Howell and serving up a block on the other end in the final minute to keep Maryland alive for its last-second miracle.

Key stat: 50. That’s how many points NC State had in this game after putting up 41 in the first half of its Saturday upset of Duke. The Wolfpack were plodding and slow, as much a product of Maryland’s defense and style as their own effort. And it made the difference. The Terps weren’t going to win going hoop for hoop with the Wolfpack.

Miscellaneous: A game after scoring 41 in the first half against Duke, NC State could muster just 16 before the break against Maryland and trailed 22-16 at intermission. … A painting of former coach Gary Williams was unveiled at halftime. The painting, part of the NCAA’s celebration of 75 years of March Madness, will be auctioned off beginning tomorrow. The painting of Williams is part of a collection of 75 individual paintings, one for each NCAA-winning coach, from 1939 to 2013. … Dez Wells and C.J. Leslie were high school teammates in Raleigh, N.C. … This was Maryland’s second sellout of the season.

Next game: NC State returns home to face Clemson on Sunday; Maryland travels to meet an increasingly desperate North Carolina on Saturday.
Finally, college basketball is here. The 2012-13 season kicked off Friday with some great finishes, high drama and even a pair of cancellations. More on those later.

Here’s a snapshot of the action from Friday night:

Connecticut 66, No. 14 Michigan State 62: The pageantry surrounding college basketball’s opening-day matchup in Europe elevated the first high-profile game of the 2012-13 season. MSU and UConn played at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, home to more than 17,000 servicemen. A year after kicking off the season by playing basketball on a ship, college basketball’s creative minds raised the bar by sending a pair of perennial powerhouse programs overseas. (You know we’re about five years away from a “Let’s play on the moon” conversation.)

The Spartans and Huskies entered this game under different circumstances. Michigan State lost former All-American Draymond Green but regrouped with a talented recruiting class and returning standouts such as Keith Appling and Derrick Nix. Connecticut was banned from postseason play due to subpar Academic Progress Rate scores during the offseason. Then, Jim Calhoun retired and left the program to Kevin Ollie, who has essentially been given seven months to prove that he’s worthy of a long-term contract. They can’t compete for the national title, so what’s their motivation?

And yet, the Huskies played like a determined squad and the Spartans looked flat, going 13-for-33 from the field in the first half. They committed eight turnovers. The Huskies exploited the opening and took a 34-18 lead with 7:46 remaining in the first half after making 11 of their first 12 shots. Michigan State chipped at the deficit and eventually took a lead in the closing minutes.

But the Spartans couldn’t overcome their 15 turnovers or the production of Ryan Boatright and Shabazz Napier (14-for-28 and 38 points combined). That backcourt duo will challenge any defense. It’s not doomsday for the Spartans, who lost their first two matchups in 2011-12 but finished the year with 29 wins. They clearly need more time to develop chemistry. The game means much more for UConn. The Huskies competed like a team that’s still focused, despite its situation. Ollie’s “10 toes in” philosophy worked Friday. The Huskies came to play in Germany.

No. 3 Kentucky 72, Maryland 69: Earlier this week, former Xavier standout Dez Wells was cleared to play after the NCAA reversed its decision on his initial eligibility. Wells was expelled from Xavier following sexual assault allegations and transferred to Maryland. He lost his first waiver request but won an appeal. That decision enhanced the buzz leading up to Maryland’s matchup against the defending national champions at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Here’s the thing. Wildcats coach John Calipari has found success year-after-after with the same formula. He convinces multiple high-level prospects to compete together. They play good defense and score at will. That’s why he’s achieved so much during his time at Kentucky. The group he’s assembled for 2012-13 is very similar to past teams he’s assembled at Kentucky. They’re young but dangerous and deep. Former walk-on Jarrod Polson scored 10 points and came up with a crucial steal and big free throws down the stretch. The Wildcats seem to have it all. Again.

With Nerlens Noel’s shot-blocking (three swats), Kyle Wiltjer’s 3-pointers and Archie Goodwin’s penetration (16 points), the Wildcats amassed a 53-38 lead midway through the second half (Maryland started the game 2-for-11). Game. Set. Match. Nope.

Maryland bounced back with a 15-0 run that suggested it’s not going to be a pushover in the ACC. Alex Len looked like a lottery pick (23 points, 12 rebounds). Wells (2-for-12), however, struggled. But the Terrapins were tougher than Kentucky (23-12 edge in offensive rebounds). And there multiple moments when the Wildcats looked like a young, inexperienced team. But they were mature enough to hold on for the win. Kentucky led 70-69 with 7.7 seconds to play before Polson hit two free throws. Maryland’s Pe’Shon Howard missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer. Nice game. Jay-Z should be proud.

Here’s what we learned: Len and Wiltjer are stars. Their respective teams will count on their continued production all year. And if they produce at a level comparable to their efforts on Friday, then both programs will thrive. Len takes a lot of pressure off his teammates with his effectiveness inside. Wiltjer is 6-foot-10 with range (4-for-6 from 3-point-line line). How do you guard that?

The aircraft-carrier cancellations: Games on boats make a lot of sense. Until they don’t. This year’s Carrier Classic between Ohio State and Marquette seemed like a great idea. Michigan State and North Carolina started the 2011-12 season on a ship. Why not do it again? And why stop at one ship? The Marquette-Ohio State matchup on the USS Yorktown in Charleston, S.C., was one of a handful of scheduled games on watercrafts.

[+] EnlargeCarrier Classic
AP Photo/Mic SmithCondensation on the court aboard the USS Yorktown made things unsafe for Ohio State and Marquette.
But a condensation problem turned the court into an ice rink. The chaotic scene played out on NBC Sports Network as players, coaches and servicemen used towels to dry the floor. But they couldn’t stop the moisture from resurfacing. Citing the potential safety risk, game officials ultimately canceled the game. It will not be rescheduled.

It was an important matchup for both squads. There are major questions for each team. Marquette lost so much talent from last season and earlier this week, Todd Mayo was deemed academically ineligible. Ohio State was set to compete for the first time with a new nucleus sans Jared Sullinger and William Buford. But now they’ll both wait to play their first games of the year on Sunday, when Marquette plays Colgate and Ohio State faces Albany.

And that was just the first game of the night that was canceled due to condensation. Georgetown’s matchup against No. 10 Florida was called after halftime (the Gators led 27-23) because game officials had similar issues with a slippery floor aboard the USS Bataan in Jacksonville, Fla.

We might have just witnessed the end of the game-on-a-ship era. So if you like outdoor basketball, make sure to savor Syracuse-San Diego State on Sunday.

A few more observations from games that actually did happen on Friday ...

  • During No. 19 Baylor’s 99-77 victory over Lehigh in Waco, Texas, Bears freshman Isaiah Austin, a 7-1 center, scored 22 points in 17 minutes before he was sidelined with an ankle injury. He was 2-for-4 from beyond the arc, too. After the game, coach Scott Drew said the injury wasn’t as severe as it initially appeared. That’s great news for a Baylor team that looked like a legitimate threat to Kansas in the Big 12. Cory Jefferson had 26 points and 13 boards. Pierre Jackson had 12 assists. Lehigh’s C.J. McCollum tried to keep the Mountain Hawks alive with 36 points, but Baylor was too much. The Bears are legit.
  • Last season, No. 25 Florida State beat South Alabama by 41 points. On Friday, the Seminoles lost by five, 76-71, in the biggest upset of the night. The Noles, last season’s ACC tournament champions, lost multiple starters from its 2011-12 team. Yes, they’ll need time to come together with so many new faces joining the program. But a home loss to a Sun Belt squad in the season opener? Wow. FSU committed 17 turnovers (the Jaguars had 19). All-ACC guard Michael Snaer struggled in a 2-for-11 effort. South Alabama’s Antoine Allen scored 21 off the bench. This weekend’s practice should be fun for Florida State.
  • South Dakota State’s Nate Wolters scored 30 points, but they weren’t enough to hold off Alabama in Tuscaloosa. The Jackrabbits led 29-16 with 4:14 to go in the first half. They controlled the game. But a late 11-0 run helped the Crimson Tide regain their footing by halftime. Bama slowly found its confidence and momentum late in the second half, when Trevor Lacey nailed a 3-pointer at the buzzer to seal the come-from-behind victory. Good effort from SDSU. And a nice comeback for Alabama.
  • Sean Woods won his first game for Morehead State in a 77-74 victory over NEC favorite LIU-Brooklyn at the Barclays Center. Woods took the new gig after leading Mississippi Valley State to the NCAA tournament last season. Senior forward Milton Chavis scored 24 points in the win. Nice start for Woods’ program.
  • Other results of note: Nice start for Doug McDermott and Creighton as the All-American contributed 21 points and 11 rebounds in a duel with fellow NBA prospect Tony Mitchell of North Texas. The Bluejays won by 20. ... Huge for George Mason to not only get Virginia to come to Fairfax, but also for the Patriots to pull off the 63-59 victory over a program they'd never beaten before. ... Two other CAA rivals weren't as fortunate: Old Dominion was surprised at home by Holy Cross and league favorite Drexel fell in overtime at Kent State. ... Everyone remember Lehigh beating Duke last season, but few remember that the Mountain Hawks didn't even win the Patriot League regular-season title. Bucknell did. And the Bison opened the new season with a 70-65 win at Purdue. That's going to be quite a conference race in the Patriot.

What I can't wait to see: ACC

October, 19, 2012
10/19/12
12:41
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Here are five storylines I look forward to following during the ACC this season.

What I can’t wait to see:

Will North Carolina State live up to the hype?

For the past nine seasons, the conference title has been won by North Carolina or Duke. But this year NC State is the heavy favorite. The Wolfpack are the logical pick thanks to the return of players such as C.J. Leslie and Lorenzo Brown, and the addition of highly touted newcomers like Rodney Purvis. It also helps that Duke and North Carolina each lost most of their key players. Still, let’s not forget that this is a team that finished in a three-way tie for fourth in the ACC last season with a 9-7 record. Mark Gottfried’s squad went on a nice run in the NCAA tournament and almost upset Kansas in the Sweet 16. Is that the Wolfpack team we’ll see this season? Or will we see the squad that was marginal for most of 2011-12? My guess is the former.

How quickly will Duke’s Rasheed Sulaimon adapt to the college game?

The Blue Devils lost guard and leading scorer Austin Rivers to the NBA draft, and Andre Dawkins will redshirt this season. Duke still has Seth Curry -- and it’s confident that sophomore Quinn Cook will take a big leap. Still, the backcourt is thin. As the 12th-ranked prospect in the Class of 2012 by ESPN.com, the 6-foot-4 Sulaimon is skilled enough to get on the court immediately and be a major factor for the Blue Devils. But it takes things other than skill to play for Mike Krzyzewski. How well will Sulaimon defend? How quickly will he pick up Duke’s system? How good a teammate will he be? Thus far the reports out of Durham have been positive.

Can Dez Wells play for Maryland?

Wells is practicing with Terps, but is awaiting a waiver that would allow him to play immediately after transferring during the summer from Xavier, where he was dismissed for a violation of the student code of conduct. Head coach Mark Turgeon is crossing his fingers that the waiver is granted, because the addition of Wells would greatly enhance Maryland’s chances of making the NCAA tournament after a two-year hiatus. Wells averaged 9.8 points and 4.9 rebounds for Xavier last season.

North Carolina will likely take a step back -- but will it be a big one?

The Tar Heels won the NCAA title in 2009 and then lost Tyler Hansbrough, Wayne Ellington, Ty Lawson, Danny Green and others to the NBA. The following year they went 20-17 overall and 5-11 in the ACC. Will North Carolina -- which was one of the top two teams in country last season until Kendall Marshall got hurt -- take a similar slide this season after losing Marshall, John Henson, Tyler Zeller and Harrison Barnes? The guess here is no. North Carolina might not be as strong as it was in 2011-12, but it still has a roster stacked with talent. James Michael McAdoo, P.J. Hairston and Reggie Bullock are NBA-caliber players. Dexter Strickland is an experienced guard, and standout recruit Marcus Paige should have a quick impact. The Tar Heels shouldn’t finish any lower than third in the ACC.

Who is the fourth-best team?

Let’s assume North Carolina State, Duke and North Carolina -- and not necessarily in that order -- will occupy the top three slots. Who comes next? Maryland and Miami certainly have to be considered. Nick Faust, James Padgett, Pe'Shon Howard and Alex Len all return for the Terps, who have added a top-flight recruit in 6-foot-9, 270-pound forward Shaquille Cleare. Reggie Johnson, Durand Scott and Kenny Kadji are back for Miami. The coaches of both teams (Turgeon at Maryland and Jim Larranaga at Miami) are in their second season, which means each program should take significant strides. Still, I think the “next best” team outside of the top three will be Florida State. Not only that, but come February, I wouldn’t be shocked if Leonard Hamilton’s squad was in the mix for the ACC title. Year after year, the Seminoles lose good players. And year after year, Hamilton finds a way to keep his team relevant. Not many squads in the country defend as well as Florida State, which returns standout guard Michael Snaer.
Perhaps no program in the country more desperately needed help at the guard position this spring than the Maryland Terrapins. It wasn't always this way. Just a month ago, the Terps were all set at the guard spot, what with ACC leading scorer Terrell Stoglin likely coming back for his junior season at the school.

Things have long since deteriorated. Stoglin was set to be suspended for an entire year for breaching the Maryland athletics code of conduct, so he put his name in the NBA draft instead -- probably the only move worth making, given the crucial lost year on the court.

So Maryland coach Mark Turgeon found himself with an All-ACC-sized hole in his backcourt, and he needed help filling it. Enter Albany transfer Logan Aronhalt. Aronhalt announced his intentions Saturday to relocate to College Park, a decision spurred on by a handful of factors: Aronhalt's desire to enroll in Maryland's renowned graduate kinesiology program (Aronhalt is a summa cum laude Albany grad with a 3.78 GPA), his proximity to family in the D.C. area and his team's trip to Maryland last season, when Aronhalt got to experience the feel of a game in the Comcast Center in late December. From the Baltimore Sun:
“It was a fun game to play in,” Aronhalt said. “It was definitely one of those experiences that gave me goose bumps, playing in front of so many people in a nice arena against a program with such a rich tradition.” [...] “I think Coach [Mark] Turgeon was excited. I’m definitely excited, too,” said Aronhalt, who will be eligible to play immediately. “It was just an experience that I’ll never forget, just playing there once. To have the opportunity to play there every home game was something I couldn’t say no to.”

Of course Turgeon was excited. Aronhalt may not be a game-changer for the Terps in 2012, but he is a veteran guard with three years of Division I experience. With Stoglin gone and injured point guard Pe'Shon Howard recovering from a torn ACL he suffered in February, Aronhalt will probably start alongside Howard and guard Nick Faust, depending on the kind of lineup Turgeon prefers. The biggest question is whether Aronhalt has the athleticism to compete against ACC guards; chronic knee pain kept him out of the lineup for the latter portion of last season.

Even so, Turgeon desperately needed a backcourt body. He got one, and a capable one at that. So maybe the post-Stoglin era doesn't have to be quite so dire after all. Plus, the name "Logan Aronhalt" sounds a lot like a fringe character from "Game of Thrones." If that's not a good sign I don't know what is.

Mark Turgeon's first year gets more difficult

August, 2, 2011
8/02/11
1:49
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Another sign that Maryland is in for a difficult rebuilding season under first-year coach Mark Turgeon is that unexpected news of a freshman turning pro after averaging 2.8 points and 2.1 rebounds is a big gut punch to the program.

Haukur Palsson has decided to leave school to pursue a professional career in Europe, and the departure of the 6-foot-6 forward from Iceland leaves the Terrapins with only eight scholarship players who collectively are an inexperienced bunch.

Turgeon's reaction in the Washington Post does not exactly give off the sense that he's confident about the coming season.
"I'm not saying we're going to lose next year, because we're going to try to win every game," Turgeon said in a telephone interview Tuesday. "I don't know what lies ahead. I don't know how good our players are."

Asked if he viewed the task ahead as a complete overhaul of the Terps, Turgeon said: "I don't think it is. We have some good guards in the program. We just don't have the depth we need."

Before Palsson's decision was announced, Turgeon told Andy Katz he expected to consistently use four-guard sets. Palsson had been one of four players on the roster who had started at least once for Maryland, and the three remaining are guards Terrell Stoglin, Sean Mosley and Pe'Shon Howard.

Turgeon wasn't able to retain a good chunk of the recruiting class Gary Williams had put together, so what is left is a thin roster he'll have to wait until next year to build upon. For now, Palsson's professional aspirations have put Turgeon at an even grater disadvantage -- at least in the short-term.
If you saw Maryland coach Gary Williams's face just after his Terrapins pulled out a 75-74 win against College of Charleston on Wednesday night, then you know: this was not Maryland's finest game.

The Terps committed 18 turnovers, showed neither a willingness or ability to make outside shots (2-for-7 from beyond the arc), and shot 27.8 percent from the free throw line. These are all ugly stats, and they're the sort of things that will get you into trouble against solid mid-major foes like Charleston. Maryland fans have spent most of the offseason (and especially the past few weeks, if the Hoopsbag is any indication) claiming their team is underrated, that they should be in the top 25, that they're better than North Carolina; barely getting past College of Charleston doesn't exactly support that theory.

Having said that, last night contained more positive than negative for Maryland, even if Gary's sweaty complexion didn't show it:
  • Jordan Williams might be a beast. The sophomore forward -- who Terps fans are hoping can develop into a frontcourt star this season -- had 26 points, 15 rebounds, two steals and a block.
  • Late resilience: Maryland trailed 68-60 at the 8:36 mark, but held Charleston without a single field goal for nearly nine minutes.
  • Maryland shot the ball efficiently: The Terps were 51.5 percent from the field last night, and no one had a particularly poor shooting game. Williams missed nine of his 21 attempts, but he was frequently under pressure in the post, and even Cliff Tucker, who missed all three of his three-pointers, went 7-for-15 from the field.
  • Pe'Shon Howard might be ready right now. Maryland is relying on youth this season -- Williams especially. But the star of the show last night was Howard, who came off the bench to score 14 points on 6-for-7 shooting, in the process making what is already the biggest shot of his collegiate career. With eight seconds left, Howard got the ball at the top of the key, spun into his defender, got just past the right elbow, stopped, stepped back, and hit a pretty little fadeaway jumper to give his team a one-point lead with three seconds remaining. It was a brilliant shot and a really impressive performance, made all the more so by Howard's youth and Maryland's desperate need for a capable point guard in the post-Greivis era.

Sure, Gary Williams might have preferred a more convincing effort. He'd probably also like it if his team hadn't turned the ball over 44 times in two games. But at the end of the day, the Charleston squeaker had plenty of encouraging signs for Maryland fans, even if Gary couldn't see them right away.

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