From the moment Ricky Lindo Jr. stepped on the floor at Xfinity Center on Tuesday night during the first half of the No. 6 Maryland men’s basketball team’s 74-55 win over Fairfield, the difference in his bounce and his body language was noticeable. He wasn’t going through the motions, as he appeared to be in the first few games.

Gone was the uncertainty bordering on indifference that Lindo showed since the season began, as well as in a handful of practices during the preseason. In its place was the confidence and production — as well as the potential for a player who made a huge jump since the end of his freshman year — that Terps coach Mark Turgeon needed to see.


It never wavered throughout the 21 minutes Lindo played Tuesday. By the time Turgeon removed Lindo late in the game, he had given his best overall performance since joining the Terps in August 2018 as the last signee of the 2019 recruiting class. It showed great promise not only for Lindo, but for Maryland.

“I think with Ricky, it’s all about body language,” Turgeon said after Lindo scored a career-high 13 points on 6-for-6 shooting to go with seven rebounds, four of them on the offensive glass. “Ricky’s so hard on himself that when he makes a mistake, he puts his head down. He only played nine minutes the other day [against Oakland] but it was a really good nine minutes.”

Asked how Lindo handled going from getting his first career start in the season opener against Holy Cross to playing just seven minutes against Rhode Island and seemingly falling behind freshmen Makhi Mitchell and Donta Scott in the rotation of the team’s big men, Turgeon said that Lindo was a bit confused about his apparent demotion.

“After the Rhode Island game, I said, ‘Ricky, do you know why you didn’t go back in the game [in the second half]?', and he said, ‘I have no idea,' ” Turgeon recalled. “I said, ‘Because of your body language. How often do we talk about your body language?’ So he’s changed things. Once he changed that, because he’s so hard on himself, he’s become a better player.”

Said Lindo: “I think that’s a main part of it. You need to always emphasize the body language. When I realize my role and what I’m really good at, it really looked good tonight. … Once Coach Turgeon told me what he wants me to do, especially executing that tonight, it makes me feels good and makes me wants to do it for the rest of the season.”

It wasn’t just body language that impacted Lindo’s reduced role. In Turgeon’s eyes, he had gone away from the player he had been as a freshman, who was well-respected by his teammates for being a high-volume rebounder, an above-average defender and a player who always seemed to have energy despite limited playing time.

“When freshmen become sophomores, they think they need to become somebody else,” Turgeon said. “He just needs to be Ricky. If he’s Ricky, the rest will take care of itself. I think that’s really what he’s done.”

Coming in Tuesday to replace Scott, who in his first college start struggled during an abbreviated seven-minute stretch, Lindo took advantage of his size and athleticism against the Stags. Of his six baskets, five of them came on either rebound follows or dunks. Perhaps the best play he made was driving through contact, getting fouled and converting a three-point play.

“When Ricky plays hard, we’re pretty much an unguardable team,” said fellow sophomore Jalen Smith, who finished with 17 points and eight rebounds. “He’s always active on the boards, he can drive, he’s athletic. He’s always there to help out when the team is down. … It just came out in this game and he played the game we all knew he could play.”

Said sophomore point guard Eric Ayala: “We’re just happy for Ricky. We know how hard he works. He puts countless hours into his work and his craft. It was a special night for him. … He showed a full showcase. He gave everybody a glimpse of what he can do and his potential. I think him crashing the offensive glass, it just brings another athletic dynamic to the team.”

What Lindo did Tuesday wasn’t a complete surprise — especially on the defensive end and on the boards — considering what he had shown in flashes as a freshman. The biggest play he made last season came against Nebraska, when he swatted away a last-second half-court lob that appeared destined for a dunk by Isaiah Roby. It helped preserve a 74-72 win.

But along with putting on 35 pounds since he arrived at Maryland — going from a painfully thin 185 to a solid 220 — the biggest improvement Lindo made was on the offensive end. He worked with assistant coach Matt Brady to develop a repeatable 3-point shot and seems more comfortable putting the ball on the floor.

Asked if it’s hard to focus on defense with the confidence he has developed in his offensive game, Lindo said: “It does come to my mind, but whatever the team needs, I’m going to provide it. It’s not really important that I shoot all 3s. We have scorers for that. I’m just here to rebound, defend and crash the offensive glass and do what I have to do.”

Was Tuesday night his best game as a Terp?


“So far,” he said.


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