Maryland’s lineup remained stagnant throughout non-conference play, adjusted only against two particularly weak opponents (South Carolina State and Maryland-Eastern Shore) to give its younger players starting experience.
Once ACC play opened and the Terrapins began struggling with their consistency however, Coach Mark Turgeon began tinkering on a game-by-game basis, no longer hesitant to bench upperclassmen for freshmen. Over the past seven games, Turgeon has fielded five different starting lineups. It appears a sixth is in the works.
Given Boston College’s small lineup, the Terps will likely adjust accordingly, Turgeon said Monday on the weekly ACC coaches teleconference. Freshman Shaquille Cleare, who has started the past two games against North Carolina State and North Carolina at center, will come off the bench.
“Boston College will most likely start four little guys,” Turgeon said. “So we’ll probably start a different lineup on Tuesday. That’s the way we’re preparing. We’ll see. Shaq will still play hopefully significant minutes.”
Turgeon was unsure about Cleare’s replacement, but logic indicates that if Maryland wants to run small, someone like Jake Layman might be the answer as a stretch four.
Junior point guard Pe’Shon Howard, who has started 12 games this season, has been struggling recently, while senior Logan Aronhalt is more valuable as a zone-breaker off the bench, so Layman could be Maryland’s best option. The freshman swingman has excelled in his two starts, most notably torching Virginia Tech, but the sample size is small.
Cleare was hampered by foul trouble against the Tar Heels, logging just 10 minutes, five rebounds and four fouls.
“I’m not going to not start him Tuesday because of Saturday’s game,” Turgeon said. “It’s more about who we’re playing.”
Especially as offensive execution lags, Turgeon might begin playing the matchups more on a game-by-game basis, adjusting his lineup to fit the situation.
“I don’t know. We’ll do the next game after that,” Turgeon said. “We’ll have to see.”
UPDATE (2:15 p.m.): Sounds like Charles Mitchell and James Padgett are also in the mix to return to the starting lineup. Boston College has been starting 6-foot-5 forward Patrick Heckmann with 7-foot-0 center Dennis Clifford coming off the bench.
Admittedly, having Cleare defend a 6-foot-5 swingman would be fairly difficult.
“I said I wasn’t going to start Shaq. And Charles and James are smaller than Shaq,” Turgeon clarified during his Tuesday press conference. “I felt like it would be really hard to chase Heckmann around, the four man for them, who can really stroke it and drive it, with Shaq and Alex. Probably going to stay away from that. They go big lineup some with Anderson and Clifford. We’ll go big then.
“We played more of the smaller lineup, and our guards are playing well. That’s something we can do tomorrow. We’ve practiced that, and we’re ready to do that.”