Comcast Center will once again be the site of mystery. For the second straight game, the Maryland men's basketball team will have an altered starting lineup when the Terps take the court Saturday at 2 p.m. against South Carolina State.
And coach Mark Turgeon is keeping his potential lineup close to the chest.
"I know who I want to start," Turgeon said at Friday. "But we'll see if it happens that way."
Whatever the lineup, the Terps (7-1) hope the results will be the same as when a starting five consisting of three freshman — Jake Layman, Shaquille Cleare and Seth Allen — senior James Padgett and sophomore Dez Wells led a 100-68 thrashing of winless UMES on Wednesday night. It was the first time three true freshmen started for the Terps since 1993.
Turgeon said he's pleased with his team's offensive progression — the Terps are shooting 49 percent from the floor and averaging 10 more points per game than last season — but he is still looking for ways to create a more efficient offense with the new additions on the roster.
"We shot 61 percent last gamem and I don't want to screw it up, but we still have to figure out how to use Dez and we're still figuring out ways to get Alex [Len] the ball… [and] how to use Seth the right way," Turgeon said. "I'll probably be saying that in January too, just trying to figure it out. I'll never stop trying to get us better, offensively and defensively."
"I think we are at a point where we can play lackadaisical and beat teams like UMES," Allen said. "But come ACC play, if we don't play hard, we are not going to be as good as we want to be, so there is a lot of room for improvement."
One area in which Maryland hopes to improve is reducing its turnovers. The Terps have averaged 15.6 per game. They coughed up the ball 15 times against UMES and will look to cut that number against South Carolina State (4-4), a team that forces 14.9 per game. Offensively, yhe Bulldogs are led by senior point guard Khalif Toombs (15.5 ppg), junior guard Adama Adams (14.6 ppg), and junior forward Matthew Hezekiah (12.3 ppg).
Turgeon is also hoping for the reemergence of point guard Pe'Shon Howard's shot. While Howard has recovered from the ACL injury he suffered in February, dishing out an Atlantic Coast Conferece-leading 6.1 assists per game, the junior has struggled to find the basket. Howard has only attempted eight field goals in the last four games, making none.
"I want him to look for a shot a little bit more." Turgeon said. "He's not making shots in games, but he's making them in practice, so that's a good sign for me that he's going to start making them in games. We are all confident when he shoots it. I want him to shoot when he's open."