He's got to be in the running for most improved player from one year to the next, Turgeon said. He's added strength, he's added confidence, he understands the language better.
Turgeon says he sees major improvements on the defensive end from sophomore Alex Len who came to Maryland last season from Antratsit, Ukraine. Offensively he leads the team in scoring with 12.7 points per game, and averages 8.2 rebounds per contest. Last season he averaged 6.0 and 5.4 respectively.
I knew he'd be better. I didn't know he'd jump this much, said Turgeon
In fact, Turgeon says two weeks into practice this season, he questioned Len's toughness.
I was like 'Holy smokes, this guy's never going to get it,' said Turgeon. And then something came on.
Besides his ability to score, rebound, and block shots, his presence in the paint draws double teams and poses a problem for defenses when Len is able to kick it out to the open man. Turgeon acknowledges the consistency he has played at a high level and commends him for that.
He's been fun to coach. You keep working with him and you know there's so much more there, and that's what's exciting, said the second-year coach.
Coach Turgeon will certainly look to squeeze every ounce of talent from Len and the rest of his Terrapins Thursday night against Virginia Tech, as they look to win consecutive games for the first time since conference play began a month ago.
The last time Maryland faced the Hokies was Jan. 5 at the Comcast Center, a game where the Terps shot 51.7%, including 10-23 from beyond the arc, winning 94-71. However, as Turgeon has said in the past, no ACC opponent can be overlooked.
They're a team that has a ton of fight in them, just competing like crazy, he said. I've been really impressed with them.
The Hokies have started to play more of a zone defense since playing Maryland in the conference opener. Turgeon feels instead of changing their offensive game plan, the key is going to be making shots like they did in their last meeting, as well as in their most recent win against Wake Forest in an 86-60 slaughtering.
The other day we made shots, a lot of shots, he said. That always makes the offense look better.
Turgeon feels limiting defensive mistakes will have to be the biggest change from Maryland's last meeting with the Hokies.
Defensively we have to do a much better job than we did here to give ourselves a chance to win on Thursday, said Turgeon.
A win in Blacksburg would get the Terrapins back to 5-5 in conference play and mark their first road win in that ten-game stretch.