Maryland Basketball: Defense Fuels Terps' 71-62 Win over UNCW

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Maryland Basketball: Defense Fuels Terps' 71-62 Win over UNCW
Patrick Semansky / AP

The Maryland Terrapins got Mark Turgeon’s tenure off to a good start Sunday with a 71-62 win over the UNC-Wilmington Seahawks.

Terrell Stoglin, coming off the bench, led the Terps with 22 points on 6-16 shooting. The frontcourt duo of James Padgett and Ashton Pankey combined for 25 points and 15 rebounds.

Maryland struggled in their half-court offense throughout the night, but the team was able to force enough turnovers to increase the tempo and get out on the break for easy scores. The Terps played an efficient game overall, shooting 48 percent from the field and scoring 71 points on only 65 possessions.

It will be interesting to see whether Mark Turgeon will try to play at a similar pace against more formidable competition or if he’ll revert to the style of play he employed at Texas A&M, where his teams played a more controlled tempo (about 58-60 possessions a game).

Maryland clearly missed injured sophomore point guard Pe’Shon Howard, tallying only seven assists on 25 made baskets. Howard is likely to miss all of December and most of January, so the Terps will have to rely on their defense to create much of their offense until his return.

While the Terps looked bad on the offensive end of the floor, their defense more than picked up the slack. Mark Turgeon has length and athleticism all over the floor and will get even more when the 10-game suspension of the 7’11” Alex Len ends at the end of December.

Turgeon, it seems, demands that everyone play hard defensively, which was on full display when he relegated Stoglin, who is more of a threat on the offensive end, to the bench to start the game.

The message was not lost on the sophomore guard:

“I felt like it gave me a good spark. I felt like I was more concentrated. I wanted to show coach that I wanted to play defense this game and I wanted to get my teammates involved also,” he told UMTerps.com after the game.

And Turgeon noticed Stoglin’s effort on the defensive end.

“The kid really played well tonight. I'm just really proud of his defense. That's by far the best he's guarded in my short era and he did a great job,” he said in his post-game press conference.

The fact that Turgeon’s first big coaching decision worked out so well has to be reassuring to Terp fans, and credit has to go out to Stoglin for responding so well.

But everything is not so positive in College Park. Maryland is a flawed basketball team at this point. They lack a true point guard, outside shooting and scoring down low. If Howard and Len can contribute, they could end up as a fringe bubble team by the time March rolls around; if Howard fails to get healthy and Len does not get acclimated to the college game, the Terps could yet again miss out on postseason play.

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