COLLEGE PARK ——Coaches say the best way to emerge from a slump is simply to keep shooting. Terrell Stoglin didn't need to be told twice.
It was Nov. 18, and the Maryland guard was one day removed from the worst game of his college career — 0-for-9 from the field against Alabama in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off.
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"Probably like 10 times in high school," Stoglin replied. Seated next to Stoglin at the post-game media session, Sean Mosley just started laughing at his teammate's bravado.
Twenty games into the season, Stoglin may occasionally lack for assists, but he hardly ever lacks for confidence.
It takes a certain athletic arrogance for a 20-year-old to follow a career-worst performance with a career-best showing a day later. Stoglin, who leads the Atlantic Coast Conference in scoring (21.3 points per game), "thinks he can score every time he touches it. It's a curse and a blessing for him," Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said Tuesday as the Terps (13-7, 3-3) prepared for their road game against Miami (12-7, 3-3) on Wednesday night. The Terps have not won this season on an opposing team's court.
Stoglin has traveled miles — literally and figuratively — from when he was a slightly overweight Arizona high school player lightly recruited by Texas A&M when Turgeon was the Aggies' coach.
"He's actually a lot better in college than I thought he could be," Turgeon said. "He was kind of a pudgy, little bit overweight kid coming out of high school, and he's redefined his body and got rid of a lot of body fat. I knew he could score, but I didn't know if he could score this much at this level, so he's been a lot better than I anticipated when I watched him in high school."
Stoglin averaged 11.4 points under coach Gary Williams last season. But he was still finding his way.
Stoglin, a left-hander, sometimes struggled to understand how to be a team player. Coaches say he is so intense, so willful — and so focused on scoring for his team — that he occasionally misses open teammates.
He never seemed more down than after last season's ACC tournament loss to Duke, in which he scored six points on 2-for-10 shooting.
"Personally, I feel if I could have given more, we could have won," he said softly in the locker room.
This season, Turgeon has sometimes seemed to wage a tug-of-war with the player. Twice, Turgeon has not started Stoglin in a game to send him messages.
Assistant coach Scott Spinelli said during the Puerto Rico Tip-Off that there was a natural period in which the first-year coach and second-year player had to figure each other out.
"Anytime there is a change like there was, some personalities have to be able to mesh," Spinelli said.
Turgeon talked early in the season about getting Stoglin to share the ball more and consistently play team defense.
But Turgeon's tone has changed of late. Increasingly, the coach talks about Stoglin's progress.
"It's not going happen overnight, but if we popped in a film from Day One until now, I think you'd just be shocked how much better the kid is. I'm proud of him," Turgeon said Tuesday.
"He doesn't totally know how to play a certain way for us to win. In his mind, he's got to shoot every time for us to win. He's trying to figure it out."
After Stoglin scored 28 points in Saturday's win over Virginia Tech, Hokies coach Seth Greenberg said Stoglin — who shot 9-for-21 — "plays for both teams."
Greenberg seemed to want to clarify his remark a few days later.
"That was a compliment," Greenberg told reporters. "People have taken it as a shot. I meant that he's fearless. The guy made two ridiculously tough shots with people all over him. He does that every game. He has the ability to make tough shots."
Like Turgeon, Stoglin can be blunt. He was asked in early January how he accounted for his defensive improvement since the season began. He said candidly that Turgeon had told him that he wouldn't play unless he guarded better.
It's hard to tell which came first for Stoglin this season — the scoring or the swagger. He has 20-plus points in 14 games this season. He is adept at scoring in the lane, surrounded by bigger players, or hitting from the beyond the arc. He has made six 3-pointers in a game three times.
"I think he wanted to put himself in better shape, so he's a lot stronger coming down the stretch," teammate Pe'Shon Howard said.
"We mess around here, and I've seen him make floaters from half court [in practice]," Howard said. "It just comes so natural to him. It's just like breathing."