Welcome back to Morning Shootaround, which will be a regular feature this season the day after Maryland basketball games. While we can’t bring you into the Terps’ locker room after games – reporters haven’t been allowed in there since the last couple of years under Gary Williams – we will recap what was said in the press conference afterward by Maryland coach Mark Turgeon and his players. We will give some of our own insight into what transpired on the court during the previous night’s game and what the Terps will be working on at practice looking ahead to their next game.
Maryland 70, Georgia Southern 53 @ Comcast Center, Saturday
Considering Mark Turgeon’s coaching tree, there’s a certain amount of stubborness involved when making in-game decisions. I didn’t cover Phog Allen or even James Naismith – regardless of what some of my younger editors at The Sun and even younger Maryland beat writers might think. But I did cover Dean Smith and Larry Brown and Roy Williams, and they all have something in common: doing something they think works regardless of whether it does in a particular situation.
Turgeon has a little bit of that trait – or perhaps fault – in him, too. After saying that he wouldn’t make any complete lineup changes as he did in Tuesday’s win over Lafayette, a move that Turgeon admitted cost his team some momentum and stopped a game-breaking run in its tracks, Turgeon nearly did the same thing early in the second half against Georgia Southern. It came after Turgeon had started three subs – freshmen Charles Mitchell and Seth Allen, and senior Logan Aronhalt -- to start the second half.
Along with regular starters Nick Faust and Alex Len, this lineup opened a 3-point halftime lead to 15 in a little over five minutes. That’s when Turgeon put three of his regular starters back in and while Georgia Southern never got any closer than than nine, the Terps never got back the same kind of flow until he put Mitchell and Aronhalt back in the game with a little under nine minutes left.
“I wasn’t going to sub all five again, but we got tired and I felt comfortable doing it,” Turgeon said. “So that’s why I did it.”
Turgeon admits that he uses his “gut” when shuffling players in and out, especially in what is not a tight game. It’s a nice luxury to have, the ability to go 10-deep, when a year ago Turgeon had to use walk-ons and players who would be at the end of the bench this year. But as the schedule gets tougher – starting this week with a road game at Northwestern on Tuesday night in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge and a matchup with George Mason next Sunday in the BB&T Classic – Turgeon is going to have use more than just his gut and not worry about hurting the feelings of juniors and seniors.
It’s going to be interesting to see if Turgeon makes any lineup changes this week with some tougher competition, or whether he sticks with his most veteran lineup to start and then mixes in the younger guys. I asked him Friday whether it might be better to mix it up a little, as he did to start the second half, with a senior such as Aronhalt, sophomores Len and Faust, and freshmen Allen and Mitchell.
Turgeon has started the same lineup all season, but that might change shortly if Mitchell (his first double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds) and Shaquille Cleare (10 points, five rebounds) continue to play well. While Allen didn’t have a great shooting game (1-for-4, 0-for-3 on 3s) against Georgia Southern, he did have six assists (three turnovers) and was on the floor for a couple of Maryland’s big runs during a team-high 29 minutes.
“When we practice, we split our lineups up. We don’t put all the freshmen and new guys on one team,” Turgeon said Friday. “I may be subbing a little bit different in the games. Right now I don’t think any of my young kids deserve to start. Therefore I’m not going to punish a kid because our team might look a little different. Every game is different when you sub.”
Speaking of Aronhalt, I asked Turgeon during the Friday teleconference whether the transfer from Albany was in a difficult situation. He was brought in because of his experience – he had played three seasons for the America East team – but also for his ability to stretch defenses. But his limited minutes, and shots, left Aronhalt starting to look like the odd-man out.
“It’s not fair,” Turgeon said Friday. “He can’t get into it. I told him that. He had a big shot before the half (against Lafayette), ran a play for him. He can’t get into the flow. Last few games he hasn’t had a chance to get into the flow. Right now, unfortunately he has to be the designated shooter. I can’t expect anyone to come in like that.”
Clearly, Turgeon had something else in mind for Aronhalt against Georgia Southern. He put him with a little over eight minutes to go in the first half and immediately ran a play for Aronhalt, who hit his first 3. He hit another before coming out after about five minutes. Turgeon then started Aronhalt in the second half and the 6-3 guard hit a couple of more 3s to finish with 12 points in 15 minutes. He didn’t miss a shot.
“[Logan Aronhalt] is pretty good,” Turgeon said Saturday. "He made one against the zone and got them out of the zone. Then we ran a play for him and I think Shaq [Cleare] made a great screen for him and got him open and he knocked down another one. In the second half out of bounds he hit another one and then we ran a play and he hit the last one. He got open looks. It was good to see because Logan hadn’t shot the ball well. He was in the gym early this morning -- I heard around eight o’clock -- shooting. You like to see that. Guys get rewarded for hard work. It’s good for him. He really helped us stretch it. When Logan is hitting shots you see that we get the ball inside a little bit easier and can score a little bit easier. I was happy for him because he hadn’t shot the ball very well yet. It was good to see.”
Coming off the bench and getting limited minutes has been an adjustment for Aronhalt.
“I think I’m just getting used to the mindset,” he said. “Coming from Albany, I was playing basically 35 minutes a game. For me to flip and come in to play spot minutes here or there, just come in and make shots, it’s different. And it’s taken me a couple of games to get used to it. I’m finally enjoying it and getting used to it.
Tuesday’s game in Evanston, Ill., will be interesting given what has transpired in the past week. It will give the Terps a little taste of life on the road in the Big Ten. Welsh-Ryan Arena is easily the smallest venue in the league (a little over 8,100), so Maryland can imagine it is at Cameron Indoor Stadium – minus a nationally-ranked team and the sport’s all-time winningest coach. I don’t know if Bill Carmody is still running the Princeton offense he learned under Pete Carril, but I assume he is. That could prove problematic. Northwestern is 6-0 and has a lot more experience than Maryland, including graduate student Jared Swopshire, who played at Louisville and was named the tournament MVP for leading the Wildcats to the South Padre Island Invitational championship Saturday night.