A stable starting lineup, looking ahead to the Hokies and other notes from Mark Turgeon’s conference call

Some quick-hitters from Coach Mark Turgeon’s ACC conference call Monday morning. 

>> Turgeon fielded his 11th lineup this season against Wake Forest, and this installment paid off with 14 points in the first five minutes, as many as the Terrapins scored in the entire first half a few weeks back at Miami.

Of the five starters, four finished in double figures. Jake Layman, James Padgett and Alex Len shot 16 for 19 combined from the field and notched 12 points apiece, while Dez Wells chipped in 11 points.

Padgett especially has come on recently, turning in consecutive stable outings against Florida State and the Demon Deacons. According to Turgeon, that earned the senior captain a place in the starting lineup, saying Maryland would “stick with” that rotation, at least for now.

“I was really happy for James,” Turgeon said. “It’s been an up and down year. That was the James of last year. For us to have any chance to do what we need to do down the stretch, we need Padgett to play that way.”

For more on Padgett, check out the Wake Forest postgame notes here.

>> Turgeon said he expects Virginia Tech to play a little more 2-3 zone than the Terps saw in their first meeting this season, a 94-71 rout on Jan. 5 at Comcast Center. Turgeon hasn’t watched the film of that game since the morning after, but will begin scouting and reviewing the Hokies tomorrow.

“We made shots against them,” Turgeon said. “We’ve been up and down with that. If they’re going to play 2-3, we’re going to have to make some shots. That’s something we’ll work on this week, continue to work on our execution. There were some defensive mistakes we made. That’ll be the biggest change. Offensively, if they’re in man, we’ll run the same stuff. We’ll practice against both. Defensively, we have to do a much better job I think than we did here to give us a chance to win on Thursday.”

Sounds like Turgeon also likes having a lineup with both Jake Layman and Logan Aronhalt on the floor to provide better outside options.

“We’ve added some things, continue to add some things,” Turgeon said. “With so many new guys it’s taken a while to figure out how to play. We have a rotation that we’re sticking with as far as trying to keep shooters on the floor for spacing, so we’ll see if that helps us.

>> Turgeon had some interesting comments about Alex Len, who rebounded in a big way after a miserable outing against Florida State. Two weeks into practice this season, Turgeon said Monday, he figured Len was “never going to get it.”

“Then something came on,” Turgeon said. “My thing with players, I tell them  to be consistent. There’s a certain way I want Alex to play to be successful. One day out of four, one day out of five last year, this year it’s been four days out of five. He’s much better than I thought he would be at this point.

“I think it’s pretty obvious that he’s a whole different player. He’s got to be in the running for most improved player from one year to the next.”

>> Turgeon didn’t have much to offer regarding a Virginia Tech scout, but did heap some praise onto first-year Coach James Johnson, who certainly has his hands full down in Blacksburg. Despite having the nation’s leading scorer in Erick Green (25.5 points per game) and the best start in program history, the Hokies have since lost four straight entering Thursday’s matchup.

“The thing I see about VT is they’re a team with a ton of fight in them,” Turgeon said. “They’re competing like crazy, playing hard, first-year coach coaching every game like it’s his last game, coaching his tail off, doing everything they can.”

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 · February 4, 2013