Terps Win with Depth

Alex Len scored 14 points in his first game with the Terps.

Last Friday marked the exciting return of true point guard Pe'Shon Howard after being sidelined for eight weeks with a foot injury. Coach Mark Turgeon admitted it was like starting over again, and tonight the Terps found themselves in the same position as the seven-foot Ukrainian center Alex Len re-joined the team after being forced to sit out for ten games. Prior to the team introductions Len showed up on the video board saying, “I'm ready to play,” and he sure was.

The excitement and anticipation of Alex Len at tip off erupted on the Terps second possession as the seven foot one center slammed down his first Maryland dunk. Len unexpectedly received the start along with previously injured guard Pe'Shon Howard but this was short lived as Coach Turgeon did a four-player switch a few minutes in. The addition of Len gave the team more depth than Albany as Howard and Stoglin shared point guard responsibility but struggled on the inbound pass.

But the real story of the night was Alex Len who made dunks look easy and even knocked down a nice jumper for two early in the first half. “Thank God I started him. I decided two weeks ago I probably should because in the long run he has a chance to be pretty good, to be our best guy,” Turgeon said.

The addition of Len allowed Stoglin to no longer be forced to walk the ball up the court and gave players the green light to run fast breaks. Maryland led halfway through the first half 23 to 13 after a slew of missed three point shots by Albany. Two dunks by Len later, Albany gave up on the outside shot and gained an inside presence which provided an opportunity to stay in the game with free throws. Albany went to the free throw line more than Maryland in the first half, which is a rare occurrence for the Terps who shot 67% in the first half. Terps were up by six with under four minutes to play in the half as Faust airballed another three, very similar to the Radford game last week. Stoglin and Mosley hit long-range shots and Len dunked on the last possession, Maryland headed to the locker room with a five point lead.

Albany picked its game up at the start of the second half with a quick three pointer. Pe'Shon Howard tried a no look pass but when it did not connect, Albany scored a bucket off the Maryland turnover and tied the game at 44 all. Maryland continued to struggle as Albany grabbed an easy layup for their first lead of the game. Albany and Maryland traded baskets and kept the score within two as both Padgett and Len ended up at the free throw line. And no, Len's shot is not that ugly for a big man.

Stoglin became increasingly frustrated with the lack of foul calls his way, something he complained about last game, however Padgett got to the line once again and hit both free throws to tie the game at fifty with thirteen minutes to go. Stoglin found another way to contribute and hustled down the court for an assist to Faust followed by a three to give Terps a lead of nine.

Just as it seemed the Terps were finally able to put away a team, a stolen pass from Howard led to a basket and free throw for Albany. Turgeon's nerves were tested again from Parker's missed layup and Len's missed follow up dunk off the layup as Turgeon dropped to his knees yelling “C'mon!”

A giant block by Len led to a highflying bucket by Faust, Terps were up by nine with less than two minutes to go. Albany was given numerous free throw opportunities on poor fouls and careless turnovers but could not convert at the line and Maryland won their fifth consecutive, final score 83-72.

Alex Len completed his Terrapin debut with a solid fourteen points, eight rebounds and three blocks. “He's a great shot blocker,” Turgeon commented. Terrell Stoglin added another twenty two point night to his resume as Coach Turgeon gave Stoglin a lot of credit. “Terrell was fantastic tonight, shared the ball, excellent guarding, made big shots for us, was really good on the break.” After changing the line-up too many times to count, Turgeon knows, “we're just a whole different team with Len and Pe'Shon. It was fun to coach.”

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