Depth gives Terps charge

Cekovsky and Wi­ley play im­por­tant roles; Trim­ble scores 21

Baltimore Sun - - SPORTS - By Don Markus

COL­LEGE PARK — Michal Cekovsky was look­ing for­ward to the start of his ju­nior sea­son, a chance to fi­nally get con­sis­tent min­utes rather than play spo­rad­i­cally, as he did his first two years. Then came the in­juries. They started at the end of Au­gust, when Cekovsky suf­fered a ham­string in­jury that lin­gered for more than two months. Fi­nally re­cov­ered shortly be­fore the sea­son be­gan, Cekovsky then sprained his foot.

With se­nior cen­ter Da­monte Dodd sit­ting out Tues­day’s game against Stony Brook be­cause of a con­cus­sion suf­fered in Sun­day’s win over Tow­son, Maryland coach Mark Tur­geon fi­nally took the wraps off the 7-foot-1 Slo­vakian.

Get­ting his chance when red­shirt sopho­more Ivan Ben­der picked up two early fouls, Cekovsky started his sea­son im­pres­sively, fin­ish­ing with 11 points in 16 min­utes as Maryland won, 77-63.

“He looked fresh,” Tur­geon said af­ter the Terps won their fifth straight game to start the sea­son. “He looked fresh phys­i­cally, he looked fresh men­tally. That was [af­ter] one day of prac­tice af­ter he sprained his foot. I was re­ally en­cour­aged.”

Said Cekovsky, who hit five of seven shots, in­clud­ing a pair of em­phatic dunks in the sec­ond half: “I still have to find the rhythm, stay out of foul trou­ble. But it was nice to be back.”

Cekovsky wasn’t the only player who pro­vided a spark off the bench.

Red­shirt sopho­more guard Dion Wi­ley, who missed all of last sea­son with a torn menis­cus and then missed Sun­day’s game Bar­clays Classic Brook­lyn, N.Y. Fri­day, 9:30 p.m. TV: MASN Ra­dio: 105.7 FM, 980 AM

with a stom­ach virus, made his first four 3-point shots Tues­day af­ter miss­ing his first five this sea­son. Wi­ley fin­ished with 13 points in 13 min­utes.

“I think he played at a re­ally good pace of­fen­sively tonight,” Tur­geon said. “Dion’s a starter in my mind, who’s not start­ing. Doesn’t mean he won’t start as the year goes on. He’s that kind of player for us.”

Along with ju­nior guard Jaylen Brant­ley, who had six points, three re­bounds and an as­sist in 21 min­utes, it was the big­gest con­tri­bu­tion in a game by Maryland’s re­serves all sea­son.

“That was the deep­est we’ve been all year,” Tur­geon said. “We’ve had so many guys not play­ing well. Tonight I was ner­vous.”

Cekovsky, who lan­guished while play­ing be­hind Di­a­mond Stone and Dodd last sea­son, showed off some of his ath­leti­cism on the dunks. Cekovsky also showed some rare emo­tion, hang­ing on to the rim and earn­ing a tech­ni­cal foul af­ter the first dunk, and beat­ing his chest as he ran down­court af­ter the sec­ond.

“That was my fault,” he said of the tech­ni­cal. “I prob­a­bly got a lit­tle too ex­cited. Sorry for that. I apol­o­gized to Coach and the team.”

Though there was still some ob­vi­ous rust on Cekovsky’s game, as well as some re­main­ing holes in it in terms of his play­ing with his back to the bas­ket, he adds di­men­sions the other Terps’ big men lack, par­tic­u­larly his abil­ity to score in the air and around the rim.

Ju­nior guard Melo Trim­ble, who led the Terps with 21 points, knows what Cekovsky could mean to a team that lost all of its low-post scor­ing with the de­par­tures of Stone and for­wards Robert Carter and Jake Lay­man.

“He gives us low-post pres­ence, some­thing that Coach Tur­geon’s been try­ing to find with our bigs,” Trim­ble said. “We all know Ceko can score; he just had to come back healthy to prove it. He’s a work in progress and he’s go­ing to con­tinue to get bet­ter. This is not the first game that he’s go­ing to sur­prise ev­ery­one.”

NOTES: Stony Brook, which lost four starters, and coach Steve Pikiell to Rut­gers, from last year’s NCAA tour­na­ment team, is 0-3 un­der for­mer Ohio State as­sis­tant Jeff Boals. ... Maryland has off un­til it plays Rich­mond in the first round of the Bar­clays Classic in Brook­lyn, N.Y. on Fri­day night. Kansas State and Bos­ton Col­lege are in the other game. The cham­pi­onship game will be played Satur­day. Maryland for­ward L.G. Gill, cen­ter, shoots be­tween Stony Brook guard Ju­nior Sain­tel, left, and for­ward Jakub Pe­tras in the first half.


Maryland for­ward Michal Cekovsky, right, reaches for a re­bound over Stony Brook guard Ak­wasi Ye­boah, left, and for­ward Tyrell Stur­di­vant in the first half of Tues­day night’s game. Cekovsky fin­ished with 11 points, seven in the sec­ond half.

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