Maryland basketball vs. Indiana University of Pennsylvania: Previewing the exhibition

THE INFO

Who: Maryland (17-15 in 2011) vs. IUP (23-6).

When: Friday, 7 p.m.

Where: Comcast Center

Online: Game will be streamed at UMTerps.com.

DMV radio: WTEM (980 AM), WJZ (105.7 FM).

Coaches: Terps — Mark Turgeon (Second season, 17-15). Crimson Hawks — Joe Lombardi (Seventh season, 123-59).

THE SCRIPT

This will be the public’s first live look at the Maryland men’s basketball team against another opponent, the final tune-up before the Terps open the regular season next week at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center against defending national champion Kentucky. Turgeon expressed his disappointment Thursday at his team’s inconsistent practices, especially on the defensive end and with Maryland’s guard play. Boasting a young roster that will rotate four freshmen and two sophomores, the Terps will undoubtedly endure some growing pains, but developing stability will be a premium for Turgeon and his staff, who have scaled back on adding new offenses and defenses, instead focusing on hammering home fundamentals in the preseason. Turgeon cautioned against heightened expectations for this young bunch, but the excitement is obvious, especially with a solid recruiting class and added depth. 

The 2011-12 PSAC West champions in Division II, IUP fell to Pittsburgh, 69-54, in a scrimmage last Friday, and return three starters from last season, who accounted for 41 percent of the team’s scoring and 61 percent of its rebounding. 

THE QUESTIONS

1. Who will start? Alex Len and Nick Faust will almost certainly get tabbed against IUP and, barring any sort of football-esque surprises, will start against Kentucky. Pe’Shon Howard figures to be in the mix at point guard, if only because of his experience, while Jake Layman has impressed at small forward and could get the nod there, especially with Dez Wells’s status still in flux. With Len at one of the post positions, either James Padgett or Shaquille Cleare will likely compliment him down low, though Turgeon has expressed surprise at Charles Mitchell’s preseason performance. Don’t read too much into tonight’s starting lineup. Everything could very well change against Kentucky and down the road.

2. New-look offense? By all accounts, the Terps will operate inside-out through Len, and will feature a much more balanced attack with Terrell Stoglin, last season’s leading scorer, out of the picture. At least until his freshmen get their feet wet in college action, Turgeon expects Len and Faust to shoulder the scoring load, but the scrimmage, with minutes likely kept low across the load, should give a glimpse into the potential depth of this Maryland roster.

3. How will the freshmen fare? Layman, Cleare, Mitchell and guard Seth Allen make up an exciting and personable class for Turgeon, who was finally able to recruit his type of players into College Park. The buzz surrounding these four, not to mention sophomores Len and Faust, have expectations high around the Comcast Center, but tonight will be the first chance to see how far they’ve come through summer workouts and the preseason.

THE STATS

9-19: Estimated net weight gain this offseason by the Maryland basketball team

3: Division II teams to finish ranked in the top 25 nationally in three straight seasons. IUP is one.

2.2: Blocks per game by Len, third in the ACC.

THE QUOTES

“To be quite frank, I’m not sure I could start five guys. I’m not sure we have five guys practicing well enough to start. I know I’m being critical today, but if you were at practice you’d feel the same way.” — Turgeon.

“Right now, at this point, there’s no excuse for how we’ve been practicing. I think we need to pick it up for our game tomorrow. I think he’s been a little frustrated with us. We’re still catching onto things a little slowly, but we’ll get it together by tomorrow.” — Cleare.

THE TERPS TUNE OF TODAY

Space Jam” by Quad City DJs.

 

Alex Prewitt covers the Washington Capitals. Follow him on Twitter @alex_prewitt or email him at alex.prewitt@washpost.com.

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Alex Prewitt · November 2, 2012