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Diamond Stone, Robert Carter give Maryland basketball inside-out threat

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Maryland's freshman sensation looked the part, and the Terps' interior passing was a major weapon.

Sammi Silber

Last season, Maryland's post offense barely existed. But if Friday's exhibition win against Southern New Hampshire is even an approximation of reality, this season it could be overflowing.

"It's different," Maryland guard Melo Trimble said. "I guess I'm just not used to throwing it inside as much as I did today. It's something I have to get used to, because last year we were pretty much a perimeter team and we didn't have much post presence. But this year is different."

It is different because of the presence of Diamond Stone and Robert Carter, Maryland's five-star freshman center and four-star transfer power forward. In Maryland's 91-55 romp on Friday, Stone and Carter dominated. Carter had a 12-point, 10-rebound double-double, while Stone had 16 points and 5 rebounds on 6-of-9 shooting. Stone had 2 assists, and Carter had 1 but effectively set up a couple of easy baskets with via-point passing.

"The one way we can take advantages of our bigs is passing it in," Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said afterward. "If you can't guard us one-on-one, we're going to score. And if they come to double, we've got good shooters around them."

Maryland's interior passing prowess was on heavy display against the Penmen, and court vision isn't the kind of thing that goes away once competition gets harder. Carter, Stone and Damonte Dodd each stood out as a distributor.

"They are all good passers, from not only the post but from the perimeter," Turgeon said. "It gives us a huge advantage to play inside-out."

Last year, Maryland's lack of interior scoring punch forced Turgeon to tailor an offense mostly around Trimble. While the sophomore is probably good enough to handle a massive load again, Stone and Carter mean he doesn't have to try.

"I think that's what makes our team special," Carter said. "We have great inside players and great outside players. It's different from last year, but now we have a more balanced offense. If we go inside and they double us, it'll make it much easier for everyone else on the team."

For Stone, it's a hobby.

"I actually love passing, to be honest. If people double-team me, that's the one thing I can do," he said. "I can pass."

With Jake Layman and Jared Nickens available for corner-pocket 3-pointers and Trimble and Rasheed Sulaimon as major penetrative threats from the backcourt, double-teaming Stone or Carter becomes a clear pick-your-poison call. Early on, Southern New Hampshire avoided it, and Stone backed in for 6 immediate points.

"It's really big," Trimble said. "That's something we're trying to get used to. We have a great post presence, and I think going inside early like we did today was practice for us to keep going inside."

Last year, Maryland shot just 48 percent on 2-point shots. Against the Penmen, it was 21 of 36, or 58 percent. That's not necessarily predictive, of course, but it's emblematic of Maryland's enhanced ability around the basket. What makes Maryland so dangerous is that Stone and Carter can pass, but it's far from their only option.

"My teammates call me M&M – Many Moves," Stone said, drawing laughter from a group of media late Friday night. "So, yes, a lot of different moves, a lot of different combos."