For Maryland coach Mark Turgeon, watching point guard Pe'Shon Howard go down in practice with a season-ending knee injury was akin to watching an awful movie — for the second time.
When Howard tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee last week, the coach, who said his point guard was "just spinning and dribbling," surely had a sickening — and familiar — feeling.
Turgeon had been through all this before, losing the sophomore for the first nine games of the season to a broken foot.
Not only is Howard's latest injury more severe, the timing is worse. Turgeon believed the young Terps (14-10, 4-6 Atlantic Coast Conference) were starting to make something of a season in which little had been expected of them by fans and the media.
Now, Maryland must scramble at point guard — again — as it prepares for the regular season's last six games, beginning with Thursday night's home contest against Boston College (8-17, 3-8).
"We were starting to play," Turgeon said sadly. "[We had North] Carolina down nine [points] here. And Clemson down like 15 or 16 at their place. We were really starting to get it. I feel for Pe'Shon. I also feel for the team because no one expected us to be any good. And I thought we were starting to be a lot better than everyone thought we would be. I thought we had a chance to win a lot of games down the stretch."
Turgeon was quick to emphasize that the season is far from over. "Still get to play the games, still got a chance," he said.
But, as of Wednesday, the Terps had seven teams ahead of them in the ACC. It's uncertain whether Maryland can regain momentum — they had won on an opposing team's court for the first time in Howard's last game, against Clemson — without their floor leader.
Howard was injured two days before Maryland's 73-55 loss to Duke. Part of the team's problem in the game was simply adjusting to the shock of losing Howard — a player Turgeon has called his "security blanket" partly because he is unselfish and plays rugged, man-to-man defense.
Against the Blue Devils, without Howard, "we couldn't even run a play," Turgeon said.
"We're back to square one," senior Sean Mosley (St. Frances) said.
Maryland must again formulate a strategy for replacing Howard, partly by using freshman Nick Faust (City) and leading scorer Terrell Stoglin at the point.
"I think Nick's going to play some point, Terrell's going to play some point. I tried Arnold [Richmond] — [it] probably wasn't fair to Arnold at Duke," Turgeon said. Richmond, a walk-on, played one minute against the Blue Devils and had one rebound and one turnover and didn't score.
"You know it's tough. It's tough. We're just going to try to figure out and do the best we can," Turgeon said.
Howard, who is expected back next season, averaged 6.5 points and had a team-high 52 assists.
Howard, who has a flair for the fancy pass, was recruited as a combo guard. "Pe'Shon really wasn't a true point guard but was doing a heck of a job for us," Turgeon said.
Howard accompanied the team as he recovered from his first injury. He hobbled around the court on one foot during practices at the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, encouraging teammates and trying trick shots.
Forward James Padgett said Howard recently left a message for his teammates. "He put on the practice board, 'Go out there and practice hard because everyone don't get the chance to still be playing,'" Padgett said. "He just wants us to be a better team."
Notes: Turgeon said he considered the issue of Stoglin's tweets from Saturday's Duke game to be over. A widely retweeted post attributed to Stoglin said "Loved sittin that bench today." The player was on the bench during key moments of the second half after Turgeon questioned his shot selection. Stoglin later tweeted that he should have kept his feelings to himself. "He calmed down. He's competitive, that's why he's a good player," Turgeon said Wednesday. … Maryland will raise a banner Wednesday to honor Ernie Graham, the 13th-leading scorer in the program's history.
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