If Maryland Madness is typically more style over substance, the newcomers to this year’s Terps men’s basketball team might have to adjust their priorities.
Listening to coach Mark Turgeon at Big Ten media day Thursday in New York, you would think freshmen Darryl Morsell (Mount Saint Joseph) and Bruno Fernando, as well as graduate transfer Sean Obi, play the game wearing construction hardhats and work boots.
All three are expected to play important roles for the 2017-18 Terps who begin the regular season Nov. 10 against Stony Brook at Nassau Coliseum on Long Island. They have already made strong impressions on their coach and new teammates.
“Darryl and Bruno have been fantastic,” Turgeon said. “We haven't slowed down for them. They've kept up, with everything that we've put in. You know, when I signed both those players ,I wanted to add toughness and physicality to our team, and we did that with both of them.”
Morsell, who along with 2018 commit Jalen Smith led Mount Saint Joseph to the 2017 Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference title, is expected to back up sophomore Anthony Cowan at point guard. Cowan started every game as a freshman for a 24-9 team that lost to Xavier in the NCAA tournament’s Round of 64.
“Darryl is a big guard (6 feet 4, 205 pounds). He's playing point guard. He played point guard on his AAU team, did not for his high school team. He has a lot to learn there,” Turgeon said. “And he's got Anthony up in him every day, which is hard.
“Anthony is obviously pressuring the ball. But Darryl is doing a terrific job. Really doing a great job. Worked hard on his shot. Shooting the ball well, and going to be a great defender for us also.”
Many expect Bruno — a 6-10, 245-pound forward from Angola who played his last two years before college at private schools in Florida — to compete for a starting job at power forward and to pottentially spend time at center.
“Bruno is kind of a guy that we really haven't had since I've been at Maryland — just a really strong, hard-playing, really, really good basketball player,” Turgeon said. “He's talented. He can do a lot of things. I think he'll really help us defensively in shot blocking and rebounding.
“And he runs the floor. He's probably one of the hardest playing and practicing players I've ever coached. So it's exciting — two good pieces, and we added Sean Obi, a physical player, a transfer player, who makes our practices much more physical.”
As a freshman at Rice in 2013-14, Obi averaged 11.4 points and 9.3 rebounds while getting 11 double-doubles, including a career-high 25 points and 19 rebounds in a triple-overtime win over South Alabama.
Obi, who is originally from Nigeria, transferred to Duke, where after sitting out the year the Blue Devils won the national championship, had a difficult time getting in the rotation in 2015-16. The 6-9, 250-pound center, who is expected to back up senior Michal Cekovsky at center, sat out last season with a knee injury.
“Obi’s thing is rebounding, and he knows it,” sophomore Kevin Huerter said Thursday. “[Obi] rebounds and he looks to kick it back out and go fight for the next one. He sets great screens; his guy doesn’t move. He’s solid. He’ll be really valuable for us.”