COLLEGE PARK MD - FEBRUARY 23: Pe'Shon Howard left of the Maryland Terrapins passes around Luke Loucks #3 of the Florida State Seminoles at the Comast Center on February 23 2011 in College Park Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Good timing. I was jonesing for some basketball news. In a mostly recruiting-focused interview with Zagsblog and SNY.tv, Mark Turgeon dropped an encouraging tidbit:
Turgeon said he expects guard Pe`Shon Howard to be fully healed from his ACL tear in time for the season opener Nov. 9 against Kentucky at Barclays Center.
"He started running straight lines and stuff," Turgeon said. "He's way ahead of schedule. He should be 100 percent when practice starts."
Howard's timeline has always been to be ready by the start of the season, but you never quite know how recoveries are going to go. And with Howard apparently likely to be completely healthy by the start of practice, he should have knocked off any and all rust by the time the Terrapins take their trip up north to New York.
So long as that's indeed the case, you'd have to expect Howard to be the starter against UK. Turgeon doesn't commit to that - he says Howard will be one of the players competing to start - and he's certainly not afraid to pull off surprises in the starting lineup early in the year. Still, unless Pe' either underperforms or Seth Allen/Sam Cassell kills it in practice, I can't imagine Turgeon throwing a youngster to the wolves in that situation.
There are a few other interesting notes in that piece as well, including that Turgeon is looking at adding "one or two" guards - two if Harrisons, one if not, I'm assuming. He also says both Nick Faust and Alex Len have gotten significantly better, but most intriguingly mentions that James Padgett has put on about 15 pounds of muscle over the offseason, which would put him at about 240. Padge has had some issues with physicality in the past, especially in regards to shooting falling away from the basket instead of going up strong, but if he's well-and-truly bulked up he should be a bit tougher to push around down low. With still beanpole-ish Alex Len as his post partner, the added weight will come in handy.
So, with a healthy Howard and a bigger Padgett, I'd venture to say that Pe'Shon, Faust, Padge, and Len are all more or less safely penciled into the starting five. The only question left: Seth Allen, Sam Cassell, Logan Aronhalt, or Jake Layman? I'm still betting Cassell, but the odds should be pretty even across all four.