I’ve had two days to digest the Terps season debut against the defending national champion Kentucky Wildcats on Friday night and still can’t believe what I saw. I tuned in midway through the first half with the good guys down by 15. Thinking a 30-point blowout was in the offering, what took place thereafter was shocking. Maryland turned the game around and completely dominated Kentucky on the boards, out-rebounding the Cats 23-12 offensively and 46-34 overall. Despite a terrible shooting night (33% overall and 3 for 19 on threes) the Terps closed the gap and actually took the lead in the second half before dropping the contest by three (72-69).
It was a great opportunity to open against the defending champs which provided an immediate measuring stick and the Terps measured up. These guys look nothing like the crew that stood around and watched ball hogging shooting guard Terrell Stoglin win and lose games single-handily last season. Head coach Mark Turgeon
was constantly frustrated by Stoglin’s self-centered antics and I believe is glad he’s gone. Great things can happen when you pound the boards, play together as a team, and extend full effort for 40 minutes. That the Terps shot terribly and were in this one down to the wire validates the approach.
Some of the individual efforts were incredible. Was that the same clumsy Alex Len who averaged six points and 5.4 rebounds per game last year, who now looks 30 pounds heavier, quicker, and who put up 23 points and 12 boards along with four blocks against the champs? What a monster!
And who is Charles Mitchell? The freshman forward pounded the glass for 10 rebounds and left me thinking the rest of the ACC was in for a rude awakening when the Terps hit the floor.
I’d love for Maryland to continue scheduling as many top flight opponents before their ACC schedule starts in coming years; the early season tests build character and resilience needed for the grinding competition in conference. I’m very inspired and can’t wait for the big games. Next up, after a couple of tune ups, the ACC-Big 10 match-up with Northwestern on November 27 and the December 2 regional contest against George Mason. FEAR THE TURTLE!