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Diamond Stone is staying in Maryland basketball's starting lineup

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Mark Turgeon is trusting that Stone will gain valuable experience as a starter, plus other notes from his Saturday conference call.

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Maryland freshman center Diamond Stone had been out of the starting lineup since Dec. 1 at North Carolina, save for an accidental start against Rutgers, but he made a return on Thursday against Iowa. In a Saturday conference call, head coach Mark Turgeon suggested he'll stay there.

"He's asserted himself into the starting lineup," said Turgeon. "Last game you saw us using him on offense and Damonte [Dodd] on defense. As long as he continues to improve, which he is, I think it helps everybody if he's in our starting lineup."

Turgeon had more to say on Saturday, a day before the Terps tip off in Columbus against the Ohio State Buckeyes, a team they blew-out two week ago.

On Stone facing similar early-season struggles against Iowa:

I think the only way he's going to get better is if he goes through those situations. Obviously it wasn't the best start for him with foul trouble and all of that. He got better staying out of it as the game went on, and I think as he gets used to that starting experience, and that was a high level game, but as he gets used to it, he'll get better with it. He just needs the experience.

On Stone's growth on the defensive end:

"He's come a long way. His ball screen defense and transition defense have gotten a little bit better. His awareness has gotten better. His understanding has gotten better. He's come a long way. He's a big young kid and it takes time, so he's a smart kid, he gets it and I think we all have confidence that he's going to try to do the right thing out there now. He's not always going to do it right, but he's going to try to do it right, which is a good feeling for us."

On what Stone's transition into the starting lineup means for getting Michal Cekovsky's playing time:

I think it'll make it easier, and Ceko didn't play [against Iowa]. Well, that was more about who we were playing. But I think Damonte [Dodd] can sub at the four, because he can chase guards a little better, and Ceko can still guard at the five. The team we're playing on Sunday is a little bit more conventional, so I think you'll see Ceko early. He could give us some depth inside.

On Jared Nickens's shooting slump:

He missed a couple so he passed on one last night, which is smart. We tell our guys all the time, get yourself to the foul line, get a layup, get yourself going. So no different for him.  We have confidence that Jared is going to make every shot. It's a long season, and hopefully he's going to start being more confident and play better out there.

On Sunday's game on the road at Ohio State:

We have gone there and gotten our tails kicked, so it should dial us in to want to go up there into Columbus and play well. To get where we want to be and be a great team, coming off a loss or coming off a win, whatever it is you've got to be as best prepared as you can for the next one, and hopefully our guys will be mentally ready.