Sorry for the lack of writing the last few weeks. The holidays and a bad back have kept me from writing very much.
The basketball squad had a good December against some questionable mid-major teams. Alex Len and Pe'Shon Howard returned to the lineup from suspension and injury respectively. Len proved from the start that he is a very skilled player. Len still has work to do in almost all facets of his game but he was very productive in his first college games. He proved against N.C. State that he will be a force in ACC play. His conditioning needs improving and his defense is still somewhat of a work in progress. He is grabbing rebounds and blocking shots based on his size and quickness, not the execution of good fundamentals. When he puts it all together he will be a formidable force on defense.
Howards return has been a little more rocky. His game against Cornell was a very mixed bag and I thought overall he did not play well. Against the Wolfpack he was also uneven and had a dreadful night shooting and trying to guard Scott Wood. Wood isn't exactly Adam Morrison and Howard often failed to stay with Wood especially in the 2nd half. Howard deserves some slack because of all the time he missed with his foot injury but his return has been a very mixed bag. While he has accumulated 26 assists in just five games he also has added 19 turnovers. His assist and turnover rate are nearly identical. Maryland fans will probably have to adjust to the fact that under Mark Turgeon it is rare to have a point guard racking up assists. In his season as head coach at Texas A&M the assist leader on the team never averaged over 3.6 per game. There were plenty of opportunities for assists with Gary Williams' flex offense and emphasis on transition scoring. With all those gone under Mark Turgeon a plodding half court motion style offense is what we're going to get. The scrutiny of how many assists Howard gets or how few Terrell Stoglin has is probably not the best indicator of how Turgeon's offense is working with these players. Howard will not make this team much better if he just focuses on getting assists. Maryland needs a reliable scoring option at the guard spot besides Stoglin. Nick Faust, Mychal Parker and Sean Mosley have struggled to provide that. Unless Howard can magically make those players better scorers, and early indications are not good, then having a "true point guard" back probably won't help as much as fans might expect.
Inserting two new starters into the lineup was bound to cause some problems with other players who had settled into rolls. Faust, Ashton Pankey and James Padgett are pretty much starting over. I thought the team gave a good showing for opening league play on the road against a decent N.C. State squad. Had the game been at Comcast Center it could have easily gone the other way. It is worth keeping in mind that the starting lineup against the Wolfpack had two sophomores, a freshman and an inexperienced junior. The bench isn't very seasoned either. I expect them to play much better tonight at home.