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God bless you, Mark Turgeon, and your unusual, extraordinary forthrightness when it comes to telling the media about your planned starting lineups.
Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said on Monday's ACC teleconference that at least one lineup change is being planned for Tuesday's home game against Boston College to counter the fact that the Eagles play as many as four guards at a time.
As a result, Turgeon said he will likely move freshman Shaquille Cleare, who started the past two games in place of senior James Padgett back to the bench, and will use another perimeter player in the starting lineup. ...
"Shaq didn't play well, but I'm not going to not start him Tuesday because of Saturday's game. It's more about who we're playing," Turgeon said. "Boston College is likely going to start four little guys, so we'll probably start a different lineup. Shaq will still play significant minutes. I'm not sure what we'll do the next game after that [Saturday at Duke]."
He's not kidding: the five most-used players for Boston College go 6-2, 6-3, 6-4, 6-5, and 6-8. There's no one there for Cleare to check, especially because Ryan Anderson at 6-8 can step out to the perimeter. If BC went with that traditional five, Cleare would be in no man's land defensively. So you can understand the switch.
The dead obvious thing to do, and the thing I do ultimately expect, is for Jake Layman to come in at the four, with Alex Len moving back to center. It's been discussed to death, but it's been clear ever since the Virginia Tech game that Layman may well be a better player - perhaps a much better player - when he starts, so getting him in would be a bonus. Not to mention that he's another offensive threat in a way that someone like Pe`Shon Howard isn't, and getting more of those on the floor is looking like a necessity at this point.
But I do wonder if the real reason to do it might actually be because he matches up better with BC's potential lineups. Layman's real competition for the starting spot is probably not Howard but instead Charles Mitchell, but Mitchell would find himself in no-man's-land quite a bit, too, unless you want him trying to check a 6-5 slasher. Layman would match up easily with Patrick Heckmann, who is basically a poor man's version of Layman himself, matching him for athleticism and skill but still boasting three or four inches on him. Of course, BC won't often stay in that lineup, I'd assume, given that they won't want Alex Len isolated on 6-8 Ryan Anderson all day long. Dennis Clifford, BC's own seven-footer, may not provide much, but he's at least a physical match for Len, and you'd expect him to get some serious time in an attempt to neutralize him.
When that happens, Anderson will move down to the four, meaning Maryland will either need to bring on one of their post players to counter, or try to accommodate that in the regular lineup. With, say, Howard in, instead of Layman, the latter option isn't really possible; with Layman in and playing the four, I wonder if Maryland wouldn't actually have their best matchup on him anyway. Anderson's got some Mike Scott in him, and between his physicality, quickness, and skill, would probably have the upper hand on Padgett or Mitchell, same as Scott did when Turgeon tried to check him with Padge last year. Layman defensively is a work-in-progress, but he has the physical tools to frustrate Anderson, so long as he's dialed in.
I'd be hoping that's not the situation to begin with, of course, and Turgeon probably agrees. But I'd expect a Layman-Anderson matchup for at least a little while tomorrow, and it'll be interesting to see how Sunshine handles himself.
Regardless, I can't help but feel disappointed about the timing of the switch. I'm not necessarily disappointed that Turgeon's going to juggle his lineup against Boston College - it's a fairly sensible coaching move - but there's no getting around that going to a four-guard rotation - yet another new concept - holds a good chance of disrupting Maryland's limited chemistry even further. It's looking obvious that the players could use some stability right now as they try to get into a rhythm, and breaking out a new lineup tomorrow, then another against Duke, isn't likely to do that cause much good.
That said, it's not the end of the world, either. You don't want to stabilize an unbalanced or poor lineup if Turgeon anyway, and the Faust-Allen-Dez-Len-Cleare look that hit a brick wall in Chapel Hill is hardly an undroppable combination. It's just the perils of the schedule, I suppose.