The Maryland men’s basketball team tips off against Morgan State at 6 p.m. at Comcast Center, following Thanksgiving and a week where three big coaching moves overshadowed the program’s Paradise Jam tournament victory. Get ready for the matchup with some pregame notes:
>> Freshman Damonte Dodd has logged 27 total minutes this season, which is 15 more than Jon Graham and 45 less than Varun Ram. He didn’t crack the rotation against Northern Iowa and Providence, earning the first two DNP-CDs of his college career. He has scored one point, grabbed three rebounds and blocked three shots in four games, but Coach Mark Turgeon says he wants to get the athletic center more playing time moving forward.
“Every game I go in and anticipate playing Damonte,” Turgeon said. “I anticipated playing him against Providence and I didn’t. So do I anticipate playing him Friday? Yes. Will I? I don’t know.”
Morgan State’s 7-foot-2 center Ian Chiles is coming off a monstrous game against Marist in the U.S. Virgin Islands, when he scored 25 points, grabbed nine rebounds and blocked seven shots to help the Bears secure their first win of the season. Starting center Shaquille Cleare has impressed Turgeon with his low-post defense, and even though he’s struggled offensively, it’s a sacrifice the third-year Maryland coach is willing to make.
“I think Shaq really played well defensively down there,” Turgeon said. “Our points per possession allowed when Shaq’s in the game compared to when he’s out is not significant, but there’s an edge there for Shaq. To me, we’re defensively when Shaq’s in the game. We’re a little better offensively when Charles [Mitchell] is in the game. It’s a crapshoot for me for that. I was really impressed with Shaq’s defense down there. I thought he did a really ncie job, especially on [Northern Iowa’s Seth Tuttle] and I think he was too physical for the big kid from Providence. I was really pleased with Shaq’s defense. He missed some shots he’s gong to make as we go forward, and so is Charles. Our low-post scoring has to get better. There’s no doubt.”
That, by the way, is the first time in almost two years on the beat that Turgeon has referenced advanced stats.
>> Maryland and Morgan State played on opposite sides of the Paradise Jam bracket, providing the opportunity for both sides to advance scout in person. The Bears dropped their first two games — 78-59 against La Salle and 75-66 against Vanderbilt — before beating the Red Foxes, but Turgeon still hasn’t seen them play live. Assistant coach Bino Ranson will handle the scout.
“I did not see them in person, but I didn’t see Providence in person, but my assistants will have us ready,” Turgoen said. “Am I worried about a letdown? Yeah I don’t think the building will be very full Friday. A little bit concerned, but I also think our guys have gained a tremendous amount of confidence. We weren’t a very confident team when we went down to St. Thomas. It showed in the first half against Marist, but as the tournament went on we just became more and more confident.”
Inclement weather left the Terps delayed in Charlotte on their flight home, and they returned late Tuesday night. They took Wednesday off, save lifting and free throws, then practiced Thanksgiving morning.
>> Juan Dixon will make his debut on the Maryland staff this Friday, serving as an assistant to the head coach. The legendary point guard has remained involved in the program since Turgeon assumed control in 2011, but credited his coach Gary Williams with helping him through the hiring process.
“Coach Williams has been a huge supporter,” Dixon said via teleconference. “It’s definitely someone I confided in, I asked for his advice, so he definitely helped me a lot through this process and I’m extremely grateful and humbled to be in the position I’m in today. Yes, Coach Turgeon and Kevin Anderson have been very supportive and they’ve given me this opportunity to be a part of their program, but Coach Williams has helped me along the way. He’s taken phone calls from me, given phone calls in the past.”