A New Season

After the loss of Pe'Shon Howard for the season due to a torn ACL, the Terps are back at square one.

After what was certainly a tumultuous weekend for the Maryland men's basketball program, at least one thing remains a certainty: James Padgett will not be playing point guard.

“No that will not be happening,” guaranteed the 6-foot-8 forward in response to a reporter's attempt to make light of the Terps' backcourt situation. And while the playful jab may have brought about a few much-needed smiles in the bowels of the Comcast Center on Wednesday, the Terps' disastrous weekend is no laughing matter.

The Terps' misfortunes began last Thursday when sophomore guard Pe'Shon Howard had to leave practice after sustaining a knee injury. Howard had already missed the first nine games of the season with a broken bone in his left foot and was averaging 6.5 ppg and 3.7 apg in the 14 games since his return.

Test results Friday confirmed the team's worst fears: Howard had torn his ACL in his right knee and would miss the remainder of the season. According to Mark Turgeon, the injury couldn't have come at a worse time.

“We were really starting to play,” said Turgeon, referencing his team's performances against North Carolina and Clemson. “We were really starting to get it. So, it's disappointing. I feel for Pe'Shon. I also feel for the team because no one expected us to be any good and I thought we were starting to be a lot better than everybody thought we were gonna be.”

Without their floor general, the Terps' offensive dynamic completely changes; severely setting back a team that was just starting to put things together.

“We're back to square one,” admitted senior Sean Mosley. “It's a work in progress with us and it's very frustrating but there's nothing that we can do about it.”

Just hours after receiving the news of Howard's season-ending injury, the team boarded a plane headed for Duke, where the deflated Terps took on the No. 4 Blue Devils Saturday afternoon. Maryland put up a valiant fight for a good portion of the game, pulling within four with as little as 8:40 left to play. Ultimately though, costly turnovers, cold shooting from outside and little to no presence on the boards resulted in a 73-55 thumping.

Howard's absence was more than evident in the loss, as the Terps squandered countless opportunities to open up a significant lead on a Duke team that was uncharacteristically sloppy early on. Maryland registered only eight assists in comparison to their 13 turnovers and was an abysmal 1-for-14 (7.1%) from beyond the arc.

“We couldn't run any plays Saturday,” said Turgeon. “We moved guys around positions and had one day and quite honestly we were all a little stunned with the injury.”

Key to Duke's victory Saturday was their dominance on the glass. Center Miles Plumlee's career-high 22 rebounds anchored a 48-33 advantage on the boards for the Blue Devils.

“I hope they respond,” said Turgeon of his frontcourt. “They got whipped pretty good … You can tell I'm more of a confident builder than a tear down guy but our guys know they gotta play better.”

Just when the worst seemed to be behind them, the Terps experienced a little more turbulence before their flight had even departed Saturday night, this time coming in the form of a tweet from guard Terrell Stoglin.

The Terps' leading scorer spent most of the final minutes of Saturday's contest on the bench, after his had teammates put together a brief run, getting as close as four while the sophomore sat. As Duke began to take command in the waning minutes however, Stoglin's discontent on the bench became more and more apparent, ultimately manifesting in a disgruntled postgame tweet concerning his lack of playing time down the stretch.

“We had it handled before we left the ground in North Carolina,” said Turgeon. “I'm disappointed in it but that's today's world … I'm not gonna take that [Twitter] away from him because he's a guy that needs to grow up and learn how to use that tool. I said, 'It hurts you a lot more than it hurts anybody else and there's a lot of people following you on that and you hurt yourself today.'”

Turgeon, who says he has a great relationship with Stoglin, claims the issue was resolved and behind them by the time the team landed in Baltimore Saturday night.

“He [Stoglin] calmed down,” said Turgeon. “He's competitive. That's why he's a good player.”

“He's the leading scorer on the team and he's gonna do any and everything to win,” said Mosley of the sophomore. “When his number is called to make the play he always makes the plays for us. We just gotta keep him under control throughout the rest of the season.”

Stoglin's subpar shooting performance against Duke (13 points on 4-of-16 shooting) was made up for in large part by freshman Nick Faust, who led the Terps with 15 points and eight rebounds. Yet, with the shakeup in the backcourt, Faust will in all likelihood be relegated back to the point, an unnatural position for him.

The Terps can't afford to live in the past however, as their last six games of the regular season begin Thursday night at home as they welcome Boston College (8-17, 3-8 ACC) to Comcast Center.

“You gotta be disciplined to beat them,” said Turgeon of the Eagles. “You know, you see teams really improve during the league and I thought we were one of those teams. I think you see it with them. They're really improving at a high rate.”

In terms of an approach from here on out, perhaps James Padgett put it best.

“Coach said that this is gonna be our new season. So we're just trying to forget about the past and work on getting better.”

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