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Maryland Escapes Northwood in Preseason Exhibition, 89-84: Thoughts and Impressions

COLLEGE PARK MD - FEBRUARY 23: Terrell Stoglin #12 of the Maryland Terrapins puts up a shot against the Florida State Seminoles at the Comast Center on February 23 2011 in College Park Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
COLLEGE PARK MD - FEBRUARY 23: Terrell Stoglin #12 of the Maryland Terrapins puts up a shot against the Florida State Seminoles at the Comast Center on February 23 2011 in College Park Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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Terrell Stoglin scored 23 points, James Padgett nearly had a double-double, and Maryland saw inconsistent play on the way to a closer-than-comfort 89-84 win over Northwood in their only preseason exhibition of the season.

There were some ups, and probably a deal more downs, in the Terrapins' first semi-competitive outing of the season. Stoglin led the Terpins in scoring despite starting 0-6 from the field, and Sean Mosley finished second with 20 points of his own. Nick Faust made his Maryland debut with an impressive dunk, a 55-foot buzzer beat at the half, and 14 points, but was sat halfway through the second half with some cramping issues, which shouldn't have been a surprise given how much he played.

The Terrapins led easily for much of the game, but a second-half 15-3 Northwood run brought the Seahaws back to within striking distance. The lead would shrink to as small as three, but a scoring burst from Stoglin settled matters late. And a quick FYI: while Northwood is an NAIA team, they're the top-ranked NAIA D-II team and are coached by the legendary Rollie Massimino, so hey, there's that.

I know most people couldn't see the game - it wasn't on TV anywhere or particularly easily accessible online - so I'll share some impressions after the jump. First a few general thoughts, followed by individual player recaps, with the always-present disclaimer: it was an exhibition game, which means you can only read so far into it.

This team will miss Pe'Shon Howard. Howard doesn't seem like a big piece on his own, but his steady, pass-first presence is one that Maryland will struggle to replace. The obvious idea was to move Terrell Stoglin to play the point, but he's more scoring-oriented than ever before. Especially early on, he had a tendency to overdribble and try to force the issue, and it hurt Maryland's offensive rhythm. There will be times when he has to do that for Maryland to win - in fact, he had to do it even in this game in the second half - but he needs to learn to pick and choose his moments. Being both a scorer and a distributor is a difficult task for anyone, but Stoglin will have to learn it for Maryland sooner rather than later.

Offensive efficiency is lacking, and that's dangerous. Maryland doesn't have a lot of talent, nor very much depth. They can't afford to shoot themselves in the foot, and that's exactly what they did tonight. They turned it over 23 times, and usually in very sloppy, unforced ways - bad passes, dropped balls, and the like. It happened in half-court sets and it happened in full-court sets. It looked endemic at times. The Terrapins are likely going to be a slow-it-down team this year, one that can't afford mistakes; they made entirely too many tonight.

Free-throw shooting and perimeter defense are back to their usual selves. Maryland's free-throw percentage tonight? 59%. Even Stoglin was 2-6 from the stripe. I can't believe they're still struggling there. As for perimeter defense: The Seahawks shot 37% from 3, but Noah Keeton went 5-8 and was a gigantic part of that late run. Jonathan Dunn, the Seahawks' best guard, dropped 34. It reminded me of when random players from Illinois, Miami, and Virginia Tech would catch fire from deep against Maryland's defense.

Changes in the Turgeon era. The differences between Turgeon and Gary, through one game, are probably what you expected: no full-court pressure, less fast-break, and much more boxing out. The last note was welcome: even though Turgeon complained early on about a lack of boxing out, it was a breath of fresh air after the Gary era there. Past that, I don't know if it was the TerpsTV sound or just Turge, but if this broadcast is indicative of what we'll hear the rest of the year, Turge is very loud and very instructive. His voice pierces like Steve Donohue's whistle.

Not all doom and gloom. I know I probably seemed pretty down, but that's because most of the really good stuff came from individuals, which I was saving for below. In truth, there was still quite a bit of encouraging stuff coming out of tonight as far as individual performances go. The team concept could still use some work. For now, let's get to the individual player recaps. The obvious caveat: it's Northwood, and it's an exhibition game.

Terrell Stoglin. Started 0-6, overdribbled, forced the issue, etc. He started to warm up as the game went on and did finish with 23, most of them coming in the second half. Really, though, it was one of those games where you're left scratching your head at how he scored so many. He's still a volume scorer - dude did shoot 7-18, after all. He looks much stronger than he did last year in terms of body physique - he's definitely more defined, and hopefully that makes him tougher to knock off the ball. Still savvy with the ball, but he needs to knock the rust off a bit, as the stats would indicate.

The interesting thing is it kind of appears that Stoglin and Turgeon don't really mix too well. Turgeon had a quick hook for him a few times after he got in a bubble or didn't do the things Turgeon wanted him to do. I don't think Stogs is Turge's idea of an ideal PG. Then again, maybe it's just Turgeon holding his PGs to a higher standard.

Sean Mosley. It was Opposite Day for Sugar Sean, who lit up the scoring charts but was loose with the ball. He was Maryland's most effective scorer early, knocked down 2 three-pointers, and hit eight free throws, and if he can score like that all season Maryland's season will be a lot easier. He also ended up with 5 turnovers, making him one of the biggest culprits of the TO problem along with Stoglin. He's still gritty and gives good effort. All in all, given that he scored with ease, I'll consider it a very encouraging performance.

Nick Faust. Faust didn't put it all together tonight, but he showed that A) he's fun as hell to watch, and B) when he does put it all together, he's going to be very good. He played 27 minutes despite missing most of the last 10 minutes due to the aforementioned cramping, so it's clear he'll be expected to shoulder a load this year. He started shakily, but ten minutes in he started to showcase the athleticism (with a nice baseline dunk) and shooting ability (4-8 from beyond-the-arc) that was so lauded. Interspersed with the generally solid performance were a few moments of brilliance: an absurd dish to Len that the Ukrainian wasn't ready for and an NBA three-pointer while double-teamed, to name a few. And he had easily the highlight of the night, nailing a more-than-halfcourt buzzer-beater right at halftime. That's one of those things you see and think "He's just one of those types of players."

That, for the record, is what Mark Turgeon thinks: he lavished Faust with praise after the game. Faust is the primary backup at point guard (where he didn't look too shabby, by the way; he started sets quickly, and handled well) and starter at the 2-guard, which equates to him seeing a lot of playing time and taking a lot of shots this year. So long as he can handle it - he did struggle with cramps today, after all - he'll play a massive role this year. Unless Austin Rivers is even better than everyone's said, Nick should put up a fight for ACC ROY just by sheer virtue of what he means to the team.

James Padgett. Padge's performance was sort of like Stoglin's: he looked like he did last year, didn't really stand out at all during the game, and all of a sudden you look at the box score and bam: he has 10 points and 9 boards. Padgett is a scrapper inside, and the newfound emphasis on boxing out favors him. He'll put up big rebounding numbers this year, I think. Offensively, he got his points the same way he always has: finishing around the rim. He still wasn't aggressive or assertive enough inside for my taste: he has really good post moves, but still seems tentative to engage down low. 

Ashton Pankey. Is he the best post player Maryland has right now? Maybe. I don't think anyone knew what to expect out of Pankey, who missed all of last year with injury and is now a redshirt freshman. But his end result  - 6-8 for 12 points with 5 rebounds - is something I take every day of the week. Pankey looked to have great hands, nice inside touch, and was very comfortable down low, not shying away from contact or seeming jittery. He has the potential to be a great rebounder, too, though I'd have preferred to see a little more of it tonight. Either way, I think he has a starting spot on lockdown.

Mychal Parker. Perhaps forced into major minutes by Faust's injury, Parker saw more time than I think anyone was expecting - 26 minutes, only four fewer than Mosley. He still seems to be adjusting to the game, but things looked much more smooth today than they did last year: he was more active and involved, especially in the second half. He grabbed a pretty critical rebound late in the second-half, and did it so forcefully that I actually thought it was Mosley at first - it was probably the most dialed-in I've seen Parker. Still, I don't think Maryland will be relying on him very much this year, and he's still a hyper-athletic work-in-progress.

Alex Len. The Ukrainian - or, as Chris Knoche said, "big Ruski" - saw 16 minutes of playing time tonight, in the only chance we'll have to see him play before his ten-game suspension forces him to sit for most of Maryland's out-of-conference slate. So, is he The Missing Piece®? Probably not. He was okay, don't get me wrong, and is still just huge. But he looked like someone who hadn't practiced in several weeks, probably because he hadn't. He dropped several passes inside, perhaps looked a bit jittery, and wasn't the same dunking machine we saw at Madness.

The potential is there, but he A) needs to get more in-tune with his teammates, and B) could use to get a bit stronger, as he occasionally got pushed around down low. Maryland will be a better team with him in the lineup, but he doesn't necessarily have a starting spot with his name on it for when he returns.

Berend Weijs. The Flying Dutchman saw only 11 minutes, much less than I expected. He looked ... well, he looked like the Berend Weijs you know and love from last year. Absurdly lanky, a good shot-blocker, and not much of an offensive threat. That's fine, but I hope the rumored progress wasn't a mirage.

Jonathan Thomas. The 5-11 walk-on was the only non-scholarship player to see time, which likely indicates that he'll be the first walk-on off the bench this year, and may see meaningful time before Pe'Shon Howard gets back. He didn't take a shot, turned the ball over twice, and had an assist. Not a Danny Rubin-esque revelation.