Maryland basketball coach Gary Williams has an unusually large incoming class this season — and he isn't ruling out starting one of the newcomers.
"We have an interesting team because we have six veteran players and six new players," Williams said in an interview Wednesday in his Comcast Center office.
There is expected to be competition for the remaining spots.
"Can somebody start out of that [new] group of six? We don't know," Williams said. "I'd start the best players. The freshmen have to make us better. You don't just play them because you want them to have a chance to play. You play them because they can make us better."
Williams is not averse to starting a first-year player. "Keith Booth comes here, Joe Smith comes here, they start right away," the coach said. "Steve Blake starts right away because they were the best players. [Greivis] Vasquez started as a freshman. I recruit that way — I don't promise starting positions to anybody, but I tell them if they're good enough, they'll start."
Maryland loses senior starters Vasquez, Landon Milbourne and Eric Hayes. The trio accounted for more than half of Maryland's points last season.
The seniors' departures means the Terps will have lower expectations than a year ago. Last year's team advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament before losing 85-83 to Michigan State.
Monmouth assistant Tahj Holden, a former Maryland player, said Williams historically performs well in years when the Terps are not believed to be particularly strong.
"He does really well with the teams like that," Holden said.
Maryland will have three seniors vying to start — guard Adrian Bowie, swingman Cliff Tucker and forward Dino Gregory.
"The veterans obviously have to step up," the coach said.
Maryland's incoming class is composed of guards Terrell Stoglin and Pe'Shon Howard, forwards Mychal Parker, Ashton Pankey and Haukur Palsson and center Berend Weijs.