Maryland basketball vs. Alabama: Previewing the NIT quarterfinals


(Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

THE INFO

Who: Maryland (24-12) vs. Alabama (23-12).

When: Tuesday, 7:30 p.m.

Where: Coleman Coliseum, Tuscaloosa, Ala.

TV: ESPN.

DMV radio: 105.7 FM, 980 AM, 1300 AM.

Coaches: Terps — Mark Turgeon (second season, 41-26). Crimson Tide – Anthony Grant (fourth season, 86-51).

Pomeroy ratings: Terps 48th, Crimson Tide 53rd.

Final RPI: Terps 71st, Crimson Tide 60th.

THE SCRIPT

With an NIT semifinal appearance and a trip to Madison Square Garden serving as the low-dangling fruit, Maryland enters the quarterfinal matchup at Alabama looking to build on the strides made since postseason play began. In its way, a tough Crimson Tide team that hasn’t lost at Coleman Coliseum since December. The Terrapins are already short-handed after Seth Allen fractured a bone in his shooting hand, so how will the other players respond to that adversity? A road win would go a long way in justifying the praise players and coaches alike have heaped onto Maryland’s performance. Lose, and the season’s over.

THE QUESTIONS

1. No more Seth? Without its third-leading postseason scorer, the Terps will need others to handle the load, especially along the perimeter. Dez Wells, Pe’Shon Howard and Nick Faust will, as usual, take care of the ballhandling duties. Allen provided a consistent spark off the bench, energy that will have to be matched with a suddenly shortened rotation.

2. Win the post? Turgeon mentioned that, with Allen out, the front court could actually receive plenty minutes. Alabama only rotates one player taller than 6 feet 8, so the opportunity is there for Alex Len, James Padgett, Charles Mitchell and Shaq Cleare to make their mark.

3. Handle the press? Turgeon also expects Alabama to come out in a full-court press, so Wells and Faust could have a field day in the open court. That is, if Maryland doesn’t revert to its old turnover-prone ways first.

THE STATS

6: All-time NIT semifinal appearances for Alabama.

8: Years since Maryland last appeared in the NIT quarterfinals.

.500: Faust’s shooting percentage over the past 10 games.

THE QUOTES

“It would have been great with a healthy Seth, because we have to adjust to that. I think last year in Puerto Rico, not sure what the halftime score was, but we barely got to 10. They’re hard to score on this year too. Big and athletic. On the road, we know how far we’ve come. We know how far we’ve come from Puerto Rico. For us to have 24 wins, really starting over this year, we really have. Is it a measuring stick? Yeah, but it’s also a measuring stick that we’re in position to be in this game less than two years later. I just want us to play well. I want the kids to be loose, have fun and play well.” – Turgeon.

“Every game is a test to see how much we can grow up. It’s uncharted waters, a situation we haven’t been in before. So it’s like coach’s test for us. It’s like a pop quiz every time we step out on the court. It’s all about how we handle it. We’re excited for the opportunity. It’s more just the fact that it’s one more step towards a championship. That’s enough excitement for us.” – Howard.

THE TERPS TUNE OF TODAY

“Woke Up This Morning” by Alabama 3.

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 · March 25, 2013