A new Maryland basketball era began Sunday night with a 71-62 victory over UNC-Wilmington. It actually began with Terrell Stoglin on the bench.
Though neither first-year coach Mark Turgeon nor Stoglin would say what led to the benching, you get the feeling listening to the sophomore guard that they're not quite yet on the same page.
It probably has something to do with the defensive effort Stoglin has put out -- or not put out -- in practice and the fact that he thinks the position is called points guard.
"I wanted to show coach that I wanted to play defense this game and I wanted to get my teammates involved also," Stoglin said.
Stoglin wound up coming in quickly after the Terps couldn't get into their offense without him, and he ended up leading Maryland in scoring with 22 points on 6-of-16 shooting.
Asked what Turgeon is looking from him, Stoglin said, "He just wants me to be a leader. He feels that at all times I should have a good attitude, I need to be more vocal. Everything he tells me I'm just going to try to do and become a better basketball player. What he has to say is going to help me, not hurt me."
Stoglin made an interesting comment about winning for the first time without Gary Williams on the bench.
"It was really good for us, especially how the game started off," he said. "It's great, I guess."
It will be fascinating to watch how this relationship evolves, especially since the Terps clearly need Stoglin to be their point guard without Pe'Shon Howard available for a couple of months
Here are a few more observations as the Terps head to Puerto Rico later this week, with their first game against Alabama on Thursday.
* Teams are going to zone Maryland all season until Turgeon's team can show it can hit its outside shots. The Terps didn't hit a shot outside the paint until there were a little over three minutes left in the first half and wound up shooting 0 for 9 on 3s. It's not just the fact that they were missing shots, but that Stoglin and, to a lesser extent, freshman Nick Faust, were hoisting what Turgeon called "ill-advised" shots. And he was being nice.
* Maryland's inside game might be a little better than expected. Turgeon said at his first preseason press conference that the frontcourt was better than he thought and that the guards weren't as good. Forward James Padgett and Ashton Pankey validated that comment by combining for 25 points and 15 rebounds. UNC-Wilmington coach Buzz Peterson said that Maryland's bigs surprised him a little "and if they play like that, they're going to beat some people."
* The Terps are going to have to get after it a little better defensively on the perimeter. After getting burned by Northwood guard Jonathan Dunn for 29 points (34 total) in the exhibition game, freshman Adam Smith had 23 for UNC-Wilmington, including 16 in the first half. Only a terrific block on Dunn's dunk attempt by Sean Mosley and Smith going left when he was supposed to go right on the inbounds play right after that saved the Terps from possibly getting taken down to the wire -- or worse -- Sunday night.
* Sophomore guard Mychal Parker is going to have to get the Terps something. Parker was one of the top recruits two years ago, but played little under Williams as a freshman. Turgeon seemed to have some doubts about his intensity level during the preseason, but he wound up starting him Sunday night when Stoglin was benched. In 24 minutes, Parker had five points and three rebounds and only showed some toughness on a short fallaway in traffic. The Terps are going to need him to play bigger.
* I give Turgeon a lot of credit for playing former walk-on John Auslander and walk-on point guard Jonathan Thomas, but as much a credit as it is that they've worked hard to find their way into the rotation, it really does speak to Maryland's lack of depth inside with Alex Len sitting out the first 10 games and Howard out for a couple of months. Eventually that lack of depth is going to become a big problem for Maryland.
My overall thoughts on Maryland's opener under Turgeon were that the Terps played hard under their new coach, but that he and Stoglin are going to have to find a way for Stoglin to be productive offensively and play with some intensity on defense.
What do you think? Is it going to work?