Len Elmore was back on campus Thursday night, watching the school he played for more than 40 years ago in person for the first time in three years.
In his role as a color analyst for Fox Sports 1, the former All-American had to put aside his rooting interest as an alum to talk objectively about a team that came into the game against Minnesota in a slump.
Elmore left Xfinity Center impressed with what he saw from the Terps in their 77-66 win over the Gophers, but knowing there is still a lot of room for improvement, especially from freshman center Bruno Fernando.
“I thought they rebounded very well mentally” from the 68-67 loss Monday at Michigan, Elmore said Friday. “Mark said they came out flat, but they responded to him.”
Early in the game, the cameras focused on Maryland coach Mark Turgeon in the middle of the team’s huddle during one of the television timeouts.
“I heard him really exhort them, to get their heads in the game, which they did, particularly in the second half,” Elmore said.
The overall performance was “promising,” Elmore said.
Elmore, who played the bulk of his college career with fellow All-American John Lucas at point guard, was particularly impressed with sophomore point guard Anthony Cowan Jr., who finished with his second career double-double of 15 points and a career-high 10 assists.
“I have admiration for Cowan who was scoreless [until the middle of the second half] but he didn’t really force anything,” Elmore said. “He still did his job distributing and did a nice defensive job on [Nate] Mason and [Dupree] McBrayer.”
Elmore said that he thought senior center Michal Cekovsky was more active than he has seen him in awhile.
“They may have found something in the way they used Cekovsky,” Elmore said. “The more he got those alley-oops, and the more they found him, the more he was willing to move without it. I think that’s very important. I think that’s going to be the best way to use him.”
Elmore had an interesting observation about Fernando, who picked up two early fouls and only played nine minutes, finishing with just four points and two rebounds.
“He's starting to realize, this game’s not easy, and the league is not easy,” Elmore said. “I saw him respond a little too emotionally on the sideline. You’ve got to let that go and stay in the game [mentally].
“If things aren’t working out, look at Cowan, if things are not working on the offensive end, there are other things you can do. You hurt your team when you just check out because you can’t get a couple of calls.”
Elmore, who splits his time between Maryland, New York and Florida, said that he has also followed the situation involving Maryland athletic director Kevin Anderson, who in October took a six-month “professional develop sabbatical.”
A member of the search committee that recommended Anderson’s hiring in 2010, Elmore has admittedly been out of the loop when it comes to whether Anderson will return to his job in the spring or, as many believe, take a buyout on the remaining 17 months on his contract.
Elmore, whose wife, Gail Segal-Elmore, is a member of the school’s Board of Trustees, said that if Anderson doesn’t return, he would like to see someone with Maryland ties get the job.
“First and foremost, someone with the proper qualifications that fit a school of this size, magnitude, import, but there’s no reason to believe that someone with strong Maryland ties doesn’t have that,” Elmore said. “I would hope they would make that a priority.
“Someone who has been groomed throughout years and years of association with the university, or someone who has come up through the university … that’s what I would like to see. At this point in time, it’s so critical as we move into another phase that we have someone with that affinity and is not looking anywhere else. This would be their dream destination.”
Asked why it’s so important to have a person with ties to Maryland as its next athletic director if Anderson doesn’t return, Elmore said that the person must be able to relate to the alumni to build a bigger donor base.
“If you take a look at our field of supporters, if you take a look at the general population out there, the ones who are the most important, the ones who mean the most and can help build this athletic department are people that come from this university and have that same affinity and have those things in common to get the best and the most for the university,” Elmore said.
Elmore said his viewpoint isn’t a knock on acting athletic director Damon Evans, who was once the athletic director at Georgia.
“I’m not excluding anyone,” Elmore said. “I just think that [having direct ties to Maryland] should be the priority.”