With less than three weeks before college basketball’s regular season ends, the Maryland men’s basketball team finds itself “back to square one,” as senior Sean Mosley put it Wednesday, patching together a lineup without starting point guard Pe’Shon Howard.
And another challenge reared its head in the wake of Saturday’s loss at Duke. It’s one that has been brewing all season long: How to cultivate teamwork when the hyper-competitiveness of one player, sophomore Terrell Stoglin, tends to turn games into one-man shows.
Maryland’s 73-55 defeat at Duke, the Terrapins’ first game since Howard was lost for the season to a torn anterior cruciate ligament, brought Coach Mark Turgeon’s twin challenges into stark focus.
Without a genuine point guard at his disposal, as was the case for the season’s first nine games, which Howard missed with a broken foot, Turgeon shifted ballhandling duties to Stoglin, his leading scorer. Stoglin fared poorly in his dual roles, managing just two assists and 4-of-16 shooting (including 0 of 6 from three-point range) against a Duke defense that was scripted to shut him down.
Exasperated by Stoglin’s rash shooting during the loss, which dropped Maryland to 14-10, 4-6 in ACC play, Turgeon benched him for much of the second half, and the sophomore responded immediately after the loss by venting his frustration on his Twitter account. Within minutes, the sarcastic comment was deleted.
Before practice at Comcast Center on Wednesday, Turgeon said the Twitter kerfuffle had been resolved before the team left North Carolina on Saturday night, and that there wasn’t any need to ban or limit on Stoglin’s use of social media.
Regarding Stoglin’s grousing, Turgeon said he was “disappointed in it, but that’s today’s world.,The way I look at it is: It’s like raising kids. Kids make mistakes; you correct it. I’m not promising you he’s not going to do it again; I hope he doesn’t.
“I’m not going to take [Twitter] away from him because he’s a guy that needs to grow up and learn how to use that tool. I said [to Stoglin]: ‘It hurts you more than it hurts anybody else. There are a lot of people following you on that. You hurt yourself today.’ ”
Still, that leaves Turgeon with a dilemma at point guard, with Boston College (8-17, 3-8) due at Comcast for a 9 p.m. game Thursday.
With nearly a week to craft a better plan than he employed during Howard’s earlier absence this season, Turgeon finds himself essentially where he was in early November: Forced to cobble together a point guard from his first- and second-best scoring options, Stoglin and freshman Nick Faust, who led the Terrapins with 15 points at Duke.
“Nick is going to play some point; Terrell is going to play some point, depending on foul trouble,” Turgeon said. “It’s tough. . . . We’ll just try to piece it together.”
The challenge of managing Stoglin remains.
As Turgeon frequently notes, the sophomore has carried the Terrapins all season as the team’s (and ACC’s) leading scorer, with a knack for clutch baskets at crucial moments. But his shoot-first approach has also slowed the development of players around him.
“All I can try to do is keep teaching him what I think is good for us and not good for us,” Turgeon said. “And he has got to be willing to put his team first and his teammates first. When he does that, he takes the right shots.”
Mosley, the Terrapins’ senior leader, has also tried to bring out the best in Stoglin without dampening his competitive fire or compromising the locker room’s sense of teamwork.
“We know Terrell is the leading scorer on the team, and he’s going to do any[thing] and everything to win,” Mosley said. “When his number is called, he always makes the plays for us. We just have got to keep him under control through the rest of the season. Like I told Terrell: ‘Sometimes things don’t go your way. Sometimes things don’t go my way. Things don’t go a lot of people’s ways. But at the end of the day, we’re going to need you. So try to stay focused.’ ”
Terrapins note: Tickets are on sale to the general public for the ACC men’s basketball tournament in Atlanta March 8-11. Details are available at www.umterps.com.