Howard, one of just three returning players who has started a game for the Terrapins, is Maryland’s best ballhandler. Coach Mark Turgeon said he planned to replace him at point guard with back-court mate Terrell Stoglin, the Terrapins’ most prolific returning scorer (11.4 points per game).
In a telephone interview Thursday, Turgeon said Howard’s injury has created a number of concerns, namely who will back up Stoglin at point guard, how Turgeon will restructure the team’s offense and defense, and how he can avoid burning out his seven available scholarship players in practice.
“Terrell can’t play 40 minutes every game,” Turgeon said. “That’s where the big problem is, so we’ll do it by committee. If there’s good timing, it’s good that it happened at this time in the year. I felt like we were really practicing well — Pe’Shon especially.”
Maryland’s regular season opener is Nov. 13, less than three weeks away, against UNC Wilmington.
Meanwhile, Maryland is still awaiting word from the NCAA about the eligibility of Alex Len, the 7-foot-1 Ukrainian center who signed with the Terrapins this summer. Under NCAA rules, Len hasn’t been able to practice with the team since his 45-day window for establishing eligibility expired on Oct. 14. While the matter drags on, Len may only watch practice. If eligible, he would give Maryland eight healthy scholarship players.
According to Turgeon, Howard experienced pain in his left foot a week ago. But he also had cut his foot, and it appeared the pain was related. The discomfort ebbed for a while, then returned. Tests conducted Wednesday revealed a fracture in a small bone in the foot.
Howard told Turgeon that he’s “a fast healer” and expects to beat the timetable for his return. Given the uncertainty, Turgeon said it’s premature to consider whether to redshirt Howard in order to extend his eligibility another year.
“It could be eight weeks, could be seven weeks,” Turgeon said. “We’ll take that first four-week period and put a cast on it and X-ray it again. If it’s healing quickly, great. We’ll X-ray it again in another four weeks. If it takes 12 to 13 weeks, you have to talk about” a possible redshirt.
If sidelined eight weeks, Howard would be back for the Terrapins' ACC opener at North Carolina State on Jan. 8. If it’s 12 weeks, he would miss the first four conference games — against N.C. State, Wake Forest, Georgia Tech and Florida State. Maryland hosts Duke on Jan. 25, which falls 13 weeks after the diagnosis.
A 6-foot-3 guard from Los Angeles, Howard played in all 33 of Maryland’s games last season, averaging 5.4 points and 3.2 assists. He dished out 106 assists and committed 56 turnovers. Stoglin tallied 108 assists but turned over the ball 75 times.
With Howard sidelined, that leaves just two players who averaged double-digit playing time last season: senior guard Sean Mosley (24.6 minutes per game) and Stoglin (21.5).
Maryland now has four healthy guards on scholarship: Mosley, Stoglin, sophomore Mychal Parker (who averaged 1.3 points and 6.2 minutes in his 13 games as a freshman) and freshman Nick Faust of Baltimore.