It's already 10 games into the season, and that means that Olexiy ("Alex") Len, a center from Antratsit, Ukraine, is set to make his regular-season debut Wednesday night for the Terps (7-3) against Albany at Comcast Center.
Here are some notes and impressions of Len, who was the main topic during coach Mark Turgeon's teleconference with the media today.
*The 7-1 Len may not start against Albany, but he will certainly play. I expect he'll be a starter soon enough. Point guard Pe'Shon Howard, who returned Friday night from a broken foot, is expected to start.
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"Adding Pe'Shon and and him in a week gives us depth," Turgeon said. "We've been trying to pressure more in practice."
*Athleticism? Anybody remember seeing 7-1 centers literally doing cartwheels? Len did one as he ran onto the court for his Maryland Madness introduction. Then he caught a lob and dunked.
*Turgeon says Len "can shoot the ball, can dribble it, can pass it. For his size, he’s very skilled." But don't forget he's a freshman. "He’ll be like any freshman," the coach said. "Some games he’s going to be better than others."
*Len seems already to have improved since his only game action -- an exhibition stint against Longwood in which he played 16 minutes and had four points and six rebounds. He had to sit the first 10 games of the season for having previously signed a deal with a club team overseas.
So what do I expect? A really big, talented shot blocker with a nice shooting touch. I think he'll make an immediate impact, but we won't really know who he is until much later in the season when he's had an opportunity to develop against ACC talent.