It’s been nearly one year since legendary University of Maryland coach Gary Williams surprisingly turned in his resignation and retired as head coach of the Terrapins mens hoops program. Many questioned whether Williams had lost his mojo in getting top tier recruits to commit to playing in College Park in order to compete with the North Carolina’s and Duke’s of the Atlantic Coast Conference.
To the administration’s credit, they did a great job in finding a suitable replacement in former Texas A&M head man Mark Turgeon, but what was left of the roster which saw the departure of top tier players like Greivis Vasquez, Eric Hayes, and Jordan Williams to either graduation or the NBA in recent seasons?
This year’s club has gotten off to a better than expected 10-4 start behind the outstanding play of backcourt mates sophomore Terrell Stoglin (21.4 ppg, .429 3 PT%) and senior Sean Mosely (10.4 ppg), in addition to highly touted freshman Nick Faust (7.1 ppg).
But the real key to the Terps competing with some of the top tier teams in the conference will undoubtedly be the return of starting point guard Pe’Shon Howard from injury and finally getting clearance from the NCAA for potential NBA Lottery pick Alex Len.
The 7’1 Len is a native of the Ukraine and was forced to sit out Maryland’s first 10 games amid concerns over his amateur eligibility, similar to Enes Kanter last season at Kentucky. He has been a godsend inside in his 4 games back for the vertically challenged Terps, averaging 13.5 ppg, 8.8 boards. 2.2 blocks, and is shooting nearly 77% from the field.
Also key is the return of last year’s freshman sensation Pe’Shon Howard, who missed significant time due to a broken foot sustained just prior to the start of the season. Losing Howard early was a huge blow for the program, especially since he along with Kevin Durant were one of the highlight reel, stand-out stars of the Goodman League this Summer. He starred at the fabled Oak Hill Academy in HS and already has a game winning shot on his resume from his freshman season. He has averaged 6.8 points and a team high 5.2 assists in his 5 games back from injury.
The Terps were riding a 7 game win streak before falling to NC State 79-74 on Sunday. If they can get more key production from their two newest players, can they become the 3rd best team in the ACC behind UNC and Duke? Surely Virginia, Florida State, and Virginia Tech will have something to say about that by season’s end.
Check out Alex Len Doing Cartwheel Dunks at Midnight Madness:
Allen Moll has been a lifelong NBA and NCAA College Basketball fan who watches and studies games religiously, and coaches youth basketball in his native Lehigh Valley region of Pennsylvania. Allen has also provided content to Bleacherreport.com, Upperdeckblog.com, Cleveland.com, CSN Philly.com, Buckets Magazine, in addition to being a tenured NBA and NCAA columnist for TheHoopDoctors.com.