Maryland basketball vs. Abilene Christian: Previewing the game

November 13, 2013
(Associated Press)
(Associated Press)

THE INFO

Who: Maryland (0-1) vs. Abilene Christian (0-2)
When: Wednesday, 7 p.m.
Where: Comcast Center
TV: Comcast SportsNet Plus
DMV radio: 105.7 FM, 1300 AM, 980 AM.
Coaches: Terps — Mark Turgeon (third season, 42-29). Wildcats – Joe Golding (third season, 24-32)

THE SCRIPT

The Maryland men’s basketball team scheduled this game for a reason. Rather than fill its slate with Division I cupcakes like it did last year, the type that gave the Terrapins a nonconference strength of schedule that ranked 321st nationally, why not fill the spot with a team transitioning from Division II to Division I? Wednesday night’s game, which almost certainly will be a lopsided blowout, will not count against Maryland’s RPI, so it brings the best of both worlds – an easy early-season win that helps the Terps in the standings but doesn’t hurt them too much come NCAA tournament selection time. The home opener at Comcast Center should otherwise be a humdrum affair, given that the first two games of Abilene Christian’s three-game East Coast swing resulted in losses to Duquesne and Saint Bonaventure by 19 and 28 points, respectively. So the Terps can tinker with their lineup, experiment with different combinations and, if all goes to plan, rest their starters early.

THE QUESTIONS

1) String together two halves? Maryland returned home from its season-opening 78-77 loss to Connecticut wondering which half to draw from. The first half, when the Huskies rolled to a double-digit lead with little opposition and plenty of slop from the opposite side? Or the second, when the Terps erased a 17-point deficit and brought the evening down to the final possession? Coach Mark Turgeon says both; he wants Maryland to have the same intensity it brought after intermission while learning from its mistakes before.

2) Clarify the PG situation? On Tuesday, Turgeon announced plans to lessen the load on junior Dez Wells, whose much-hyped start at point guard resulted in a 3-for-10 shooting night and six turnovers. This could mean more minutes for freshman Roddy Peters, or for Division III transfer Varun Ram, or even tweaking things within the offense to allow Wells to play more off the ball. Turgeon wouldn’t disclose specifics, but knows Maryland needs to figure its point guard situation out soon. Wednesday will be a good chemistry lab to try.

3) Get everyone going? This includes center Shaq Cleare, who started but finished with just four points and one rebound in 19 minutes, and Nick Faust, whose shooting line against Connecticut (5 for 18) was an eyesore. Cleare needs a confidence boost and might get one against an Abilene Christian team with just two players taller than 6 feet 5, while Faust could use a night of better shot selection and crisper decision-making with the basketball in his hands.

THE STATS

23: Consecutive games to open last season in which Maryland outrebounded its opponent. Connecticut bested the Terps on the boards by three on Friday night.

35: Consecutive home openers won by the Terps.

12: New players added by Abilene Christian this offseason. Only sophomore Parker Wentz (8.3 ppg) returned.

THE QUOTES

“No, let’s don’t make excuses for them. It was just laziness and not doing what they’re supposed to be doing. If they want to be great, they’ll stop doing those things. If they want to be mediocre, we’ll play like we did Friday night.” – Turgeon.

“That’s something we take personally.” – forward Charles Mitchell, on being outrebounded against Connecticut.

THE TERPS TUNE OF TODAY

“From West Texas” by Explosions in the Sky

MORE ON THE TERPS

Turgeon gets chance to work on point guard rotation.

‘Laziness’ a factor vs. U-Conn.

Terps hope for two good halves vs. Abilene Christian.

Recruits expected to sign letters-of-intent this week.

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 13, 2013