Who: Maryland (8-5) vs. North Carolina Central (7-3)
When: 2:30 p.m.
Where: Comcast Center
Internet: ESPN3 (game not televised over the air)
DMV radio: 105.7 FM, 1300 AM, 980 AM.
Coaches: Terps — Mark Turgeon (third season, 50-33). Eagles – LeVelle Moton (fifth season, 68-64).
Kenpom rating: Maryland 69th, North Carolina Central 128th.
An uneven Maryland men’s basketball season continued on Sunday evening when the Terrapins topped Tulsa at home after overcoming an early double-digit deficit. Seth Allen returned from his broken foot to score 15 points, Dez Wells notched his 1,000th career point, Coach Mark Turgeon got his 300th career victory and everyone was happy eight days after the Terps’ embarrassing home loss to Boston University. The turnaround will be fast, however, as Moton and upstart North Carolina Central come to town, in another reunion game of sorts.
This season, Maryland has already seen assistant Scott Spinelli face his alma mater (Boston University) and Turgeon face an old teammate (Tulsa Coach Danny Manning), and the run continues Tuesday with Wells and Moton. Moton has known Wells’s mother, Pamela, for more than 20 years and serves as a mentor figure to the junior guard, who affectionately calls him “Uncle.”
1) Keep the focus? Maryland returned from Christmas break a “mentally fresh” team, Turgeon said, though the Terps certainly didn’t show it in falling behind by 15 points to Tulsa during the first half on Sunday night. But they rebounded well, got a solid 11-point win and now need to avoid the New Years’ Eve hangover against the tough Eagles. Last season, with one of the nation’s youngest rosters, Turgeon scheduled a New Years’ Day game to keep his players at home during the festivities, but he opted for the Dec. 31 game instead this year. Still, the matchup offers a stark discrepancy in experience. North Carolina Central is the country’s second-most-experienced team, with an average of 2.68 years of college basketball on the roster. Maryland, on the other hand, ranks 306th in that same category, and needs to avoid the slow starts upon which a more veteran team can capitalize.
2) Figure out the post rotation? Turgeon continued to throw different front-court combinations at the wall in the hopes that something might stick on Sunday night, but he wound up playing Shaq Cleare only five minutes (zero in the second half) and a foul-troubled Charles Mitchell just eight. Jonathan Graham has been the most consistent presence, a smart defender who can block shots without demanding many offensive touches to make an impact, so perhaps he has earned his turn in the lineup after Damonte Dodd received his first career start.
“Those guys are nice to have,” Turgeon said of Graham, a junior transfer from Penn State. “He just wants to get tip-ins and lay-ins around the rim and things like that. He doesn’t care if we throw him the ball. He’s a coach’s dream, a kid who plays hard, tries to do everything right. He’s a great kid and a great teammate. I’m really happy for Jon, because he didn’t say a word, he’s paid his dues and now he’s feeling more comfortable and it really helped us.”
3) How will Seth Allen recover? It’s unlikely Turgeon throws Allen into the starting lineup just yet, particularly given the way Roddy Peters has emerged in his absence, so he has the luxury of easing the sophomore point guard into the rotation. But with Georgia Tech just around the corner, Allen needs to recover quickly and demonstrate his once-broken foot can handle 20-plus minutes each night, because when the bulk of ACC play begins, he will be needed to contribute more than ever.
19.2: Offensive rebounding percentage for North Carolina Central’s Jordan Parks, the fourth-best rate nationally.
17.9: Charles Mitchell’s offensive rebounding rate, which ranks 12th.
330: North Carolina Central’s national rank in effective height, an average of the center and power forward position, according to analyst Ken Pomeroy. Basically, the Eagles are short in the paint.
“I had an app on my phone called The Countdown. I had the date and everything set up. It was ticking. When I was at practice, I was watching it, the seconds go down ,seconds, hours, days, weeks, months, all that. When it hit zero, I was happy.” – Allen.
“We had a new motto as a team, starting a new season. Guys stayed positive. We never really get down in the first half, down on ourselves, because we believe that as long as we get stops we can come back. We just keep a positive attitude, do everything we can to win.” – Nick Faust, who quietly had a stellar game against Tulsa with 13 points on 3-of-5 shooting, two rebounds and two steals in 20 minutes.
THE TERPS TUNE OF TODAY
“All the Faces” by Creed Bratton.