Maryland had one of its veterans break out a bit on the offensive end as center Damonte Dodd finished second on the squad with 13 points against St. Mary’s Nov. 17. But the Terps are still searching for some consistency out of two of their noted sharpshooters: Jared Nickens and Dion Wiley, who both played 22 minutes off the bench.
The junior wing Nickens started well in the 93-45 victory, canning a triple right off the bench to put UMD up 21-3 at the 13:58 mark. But he was 1-for-8 from the field and 1-for-5 from range the rest of the way, finishing with eight points. Wiley, meanwhile, had a dunk late for his only bucket. He recorded six points on 1-of-2 from the field, missing his only 3-point attempt.
For the season, Nickens is shooting 14 percent from the field (3 of 21) and 18.8 percent from beyond the arc (3 of 16). Wiley, for his part, is hitting at a 16.7-percent rate (2 of 12) and hasn’t canned a single triple in five attempts.
But head coach Mark Turgeon was encouraged by what the pair did in other areas Nov. 17, namely defense; rebounding; and passing. Wiley had an assist, three boards and only one turnover, while Nickens had three rebounds; a block; three steals; two assists and also only one turnover.
“I think they both played better,” Turgeon said. “Jared gave us more than just the shooting – he defended, rebounded, executed his part of the offense and gave us great spacing. He did a lot of great things.
“Dion, we just have to be patient with him. He had a major injury and really didn’t play ball for eight or nine months, so it’s just going to take time. He had his best minutes [against St. Mary’s]; he had 22 [minutes]. He got the dunk, he defended better, so his minutes were better than they’ve been. But it’s going to be a process with him.”
While those two attempt to find their shooting rhythm, freshmen like Justin Jackson, who earned his first start against St. Mary’s, Anthony Cowan and Kevin Huerter have stepped up in all areas. Jackson had six points, 10 boards and three assists in 19 minutes; Cowan had eight points, four steals and seven dimes; and Huerter had 11 points, a block, a steal and an assist.
With those first years solidifying themselves as starters, might there be some contention between them and some of the veterans?
“Not really,” Turgeon said. “Our guys like each other, care about each other. My veterans know it’s a long season and anything can happen. So it’s not a concern at all.”
The long season continues Nov. 20 against Towson. Division III St. Mary’s is in the rearview mirror, and now the Terps are at least back to facing mid-major competition. The Tigers were picked to finish second in the Colonial Athletic Association and feature two dynamic upperclassmen in guard Mike Morsell and forward William Adala Moto, the two averaging more than 20 points per game. Towson is 2-0 to start the season with wins over George Mason and Morgan State.
After that 2 p.m. affair in Xfinity Center, the Terps host Stony Brook Nov. 22 before breaking for Thanksgiving and then heading to New York for the Barclays Classic Nov. 25-26.
“It’s busy. Going into this stretch, we’re trying to freshen them up a little bit one. We took [Nov. 16] off and we’re taking [Nov. 18] off,” Turgeon said. “Guys are in the gym shooting on their own, but it’s one-day prep for Towson and one-day prep for Stony Brook. It’s a lot coming up starting [Nov. 20]. Five games in 10 days, so we have to make sure we stay fresh mentally and physically as we go through this.”
Note: Turgeon also provided an update on injured center Michal Cekovsky, who is out with a sprained foot.
“It’s day by day. I just don’t know. We’re hopeful at some point we’re going to get him back, but we just don’t know,” Turgeon said. “I think it’s going to be a slow process because he’s got a foot injury, so it’s not like he’s staying in shape. And the injury before that was a hamstring, so it’s going to be a process.”