COLLEGE PARK, Md. — If a season-opening 105-76 win Monday night is any indication, the Maryland Terrapins will be an exciting and, at times, frustrating team to watch in the early stages of the 2010-2011 season.
In a sloppy game featuring 56 turnovers and 51 fouls between the teams, Maryland showed superior athleticism to an outmatched Seattle team, yet struggled against the Redhawks’ press, committing 29 turnovers.
A 14-2 run put the game out of reach midway through the second half after Seattle had shaved the lead to 66-56 with 11:56 remaining. The Terps shot 80.5 percent from the foul line (33 for 41) in response to 31 fouls by the Redhawks.
“We saw some things that we need to work on,” said coach Gary Williams. “We can be a very good defensive team. We are very quick and have the size; we just have to keep working. It’s not one of those things that will change tomorrow. We just have to get a little better every time we go out there.”
The Terps were led by their only returning starters Sean Mosley (21 points) and Jordan Williams (17 points and 15 rebounds), who will be relied upon most heavily to increase their scoring averages. Senior Cliff Tucker chipped in 16 points as he now steps into a starting role after being a complementary player in his first three seasons in College Park.
The sloppy — but convincing — win also revealed an intriguing battle at the point guard position that might bring change earlier than anyone anticipated. Plagued by early foul trouble, senior Adrian Bowie played just three minutes in the first half, as freshmen Terrell Stoglin and Pe’Shon Howard received the lion’s share of the minutes and didn’t disappoint. Stoglin finished with 15 points — including a 9-for-9 performance from the foul line — and Howard handed out a game-high eight assists.
Despite Bowie starting 28 games as a sophomore, it’s apparent Gary Williams won’t hesitate to play the two freshmen, who both bring dynamic traits to the floor. Stoglin is the quicker of the two, showing a flare for the dramatic already with several behind-the-back passes and the confidence to take the ball to the basket despite his stature (6-foot-1, 185 pounds).
Howard appears to be the steadier, stronger player of the two, committing just three turnovers in 24 minutes and showing an ability to slide to the shooting guard position when both are on the floor.
“They came out with a lot of confidence and they are going to try some passes that they probably got away with in the past and you won’t at this level, but they will learn,” Williams said. “That’s where you see if they are making progress if they don’t go back and do the same mistakes again.”
With a team featuring six newcomers and previous role players trying to fill bigger shoes, it’s difficult to gauge whether the early-season appearance in the 2K Sports Classic Benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer is a benefit or disadvantage to the team’s development. It is the earliest start to the season a Williams-coached team has ever had, at least in terms of the amount of practice time leading into the opener.
“It’s just a learning process,” said Bowie, who rebounded from his first-half stay on the bench to score nine points despite seven turnovers. “We need to work harder together as a team, and we need to work on getting our presses set right and not turn the ball over as much.”
A learning process indeed for a team in transition, but one that figures to be very interesting to watch, as the Terps search for an identity while blending together a plethora of new talent.
NOTES: Maryland scored over 100 points for the first time since Feb. 27, 2010 against Virginia Tech, the 104-100 double-overtime victory in Blacksburg. … The Terps have now won 23 consecutive games when leading at halftime. … Maryland outscored Seattle in the paint 56-44 and 22-14 in fast-break points. … Hosting the College Park Regional of the tournament, the Terps will now host the College of Charleston on Wednesday night. The Cougars eliminated Maryland from the first round of the NCAA Tournament, back in 1997, which happened to be current assistant coach Keith Booth’s senior season. … Visit the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault to hear from Gary Williams, Adrian Bowie, Jordan Williams, and Sean Mosley following the 105-76 win.