Terps need more R&R to im­prove

Opener shows re­bound­ing, run­ning keys to build­ing suc­cess­ful sea­son

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - SPORTS - By Don Markus

UNIONDALE, N.Y. — For the first 10 min­utes of Fri­day night’s sea­son opener against Stony Brook at Nas­sau Coli­seum, the Mary­land men’s bas­ket­ball team seemed to be feel­ing out both its op­po­nent and it­self. The pace was a bit choppy, the ex­e­cu­tion a lit­tle sloppy. The next 10 min­utes were much dif­fer­ent, as the Terps be­gan to speed up the game, first with their de­fense and re­bound­ing, and then with their fast break.

It was a glimpse into how Mark Tur­geon wants his team to look this sea­son, a style of play that he has tried to im­ple­ment dur­ing his first six years at Mary­land but has not had the com­bi­na­tion of play­ers to do it con­sis­tently. Two first-half pos­ses­sions that be­gan 40 sec­onds apart — as well as a subsequent pos­ses­sion a cou­ple of min­utes later — showed how ef­fec­tive the Terps could be.

The first be­gan with a de­fen­sive re­bound by An­thony Cowan Jr. and ended five sec­onds later with the sopho­more point guard lob­bing a half­court pass to fresh­man Bruno Fer­nando for a dunk.

The sec­ond be­gan with Fer­nando block­ing a shot, tak­ing con­trol of the re­bound and throw­ing the out­let to sopho­more for­ward Justin Jack­son, who was fouled go­ing to the bas­ket. That play also took five sec­onds.

The last was all Jack­son, who cor­ralled a missed 3-pointer by Stony Brook for­ward Tyrell Stur­di­vant and drib­bled the length of the court be­fore fin­ish­ing with a scoop layup.

“I told him that if he gets the re­bound he can bring it up the court,” Tur­geon said of Jack­son, who fin­ished with a ca­reer-high 14 re­bounds to go with 11 points for his third ca­reer dou­ble-dou­ble. “He likes to drib­ble, he likes to bring it up the court.

“We’ve got mul­ti­ple guys — Kevin Huerter, Justin, An­thony, Dar­ryl [Morsell], even Dion [Wi­ley] when they get re­bounds, they need to bring it. The break’s much faster, we got bet­ter in tran­si­tion as the game went on.”

Said Jack­son, “That’s just the beauty of our team now. We’ve got guys that can push the ball on the break, we have so many ball­han­dlers on the court at once, it opens up the floor for us. We have shoot­ers, we have slash­ers, it’s go­ing to be a great sea­son.”

It’s not as if the Terps played at a tur­tle’s pace the past few years with Melo Trim­ble and Cowan run­ning the break with plenty of op­tions — from Dez Wells to Jake Lay­man to Robert Carter Jr. to Di­a­mond Stone to Jack­son, Huerter and Michal Cekovsky — to fin­ish it. Video: Ra­dio:

“The last three years, we’ve been top 10 in the coun­try in tran­si­tion,” Tur­geon said. “I think this team can be even bet­ter.”

The source of con­fi­dence for Tur­geon, whose team plays its home opener Sun­day night against UMES, is the growth of his sopho­mores, the re­newed health of Cekovsky and red­shirt ju­nior guard Wi­ley and the ad­di­tion of Fer­nando and fel­low fresh­man Morsell (Mount Saint Joseph).

If there’s one player who gives the Terps a dif­fer­ent look than they’ve had un­der Tur­geon, it’s Fer­nando, the 6-10, 245-pound cen­ter from An­gola who seems to play with the kind of full-court en­ergy that was of­ten in­con­sis­tent from big men such as Stone, Carter and Da­monte Dodd.

“He was amaz­ing, man,” Jack­son said of Fer­nando, who over­came early foul trou­ble to fin­ish with 10 points in 13 min­utes. “That’s not even all he can do. He was play­ing a lit­tle bit ner­vous, it was his first col­lege game. Like I say, ev­ery­thing is just a step­ping stone. He’s build­ing.”

Huerter, who had 13 points and four as­sists, said there has been an em­pha­sis on re­bound­ing, in part to help the Terps run. De­fen­sive re­bound­ing, some­thing the Terps have strug­gled with at times in re­cent sea­sons, is the key to get­ting the break.

Against Stony Brook, Mary­land pulled down 34 of its 42 re­bounds on the de­fen­sive end. Over­all, the Terps out­re­bounded the Sea­wolves 42-26.

“A big thing go­ing into this game was, last year we weren’t a good re­bound­ing team, we have a phys­i­cal­ity this year with Sean [Obi] and Bruno and Dar­ryl,” Huerter said. “That’s one of our goals; we’re not go­ing to get beat on the glass this year.” Top tar­get signs with Ken­tucky: Top Terps tar­get Kel­don John­son com­mit­ted and signed with Ken­tucky on Satur­day, the Terps’ sec­ond miss on a blue-chip tar­get in a month.

John­son, a five-star se­nior guard at Oak Hill Academy (Va.) rated the No. 14 over­all player in the 247Sports.com Com­pos­ite rank­ings, joins John Car­roll point guard Im­manuel Quick­ley in the Wild­cats’ re­cruit­ing class.

ABBIE PARR/GETTY IM­AGES

Coach Mark Tur­geon says his Terps have been ranked in the top 10 in the na­tion in tran­si­tion the past three years.

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