The errant pass sailed toward the scorer’s table, directed at no one in particular but arriving at Maryland men’s basketball Coach Mark Turgeon. Turgeon grabbed the ball and slammed it to the court. The Terrapins had an 11-point lead in their exhibition game, but Turgeon succumbed to a moment of controlled frustration, a blip in an otherwise solid debut for this new-look roster.
Maryland pulled away in the second half against Indiana University of Pennsylvania for a 73-61 win Friday night at Comcast Center. A second-half rally was capped by a dunk in traffic by freshman Jake Layman on a nifty assist from classmate Seth Allen that sent the Comcast Center crowd roaring in delight, an exciting glimpse into the future for this young team.
“We did a lot of good things in the second half, but I was a little disappointed with our physicality,” Turgeon said. “I thought we played soft in the post, both offensively and defensively. We were too nice and too friendly, except for Charles Mitchell.”
Mitchell, a 6-foot-8 freshman from Atlanta, was monstrous in his public debut. He had eight points and 15 rebounds, including seven offensive. Allen paced the Terrapins with a game-high 16 points, added five assists and wreaked havoc on the Division II River Hawks’ offense with five steals.
One week before tipping off the 2012-13 season at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center against defending national champion Kentucky, Maryland was invigorated by fresh faces and veterans. Transfer Logan Aronhalt hit two big three-pointers. Nick Faust, a sophomore but already a leader, kept Maryland close with 10 first-half points, and finished with 13 despite four turnovers.
“We have a five-guard rotation that I feel good about,” Turgeon said. “It’s nice to have so much depth. I think at times we got tired tonight, but I think [IUP] was more tired than we were.”
Turgeon’s frustration at his team’s inconsistencies throughout preseason practices seemed justified in the first half. Maryland shot just 31.6 percent and was behind 34-33 at the break, struggling to finish at the rim and defend the River Hawks in half-court sets.
But the Terrapins opened the second half on a 9-2 run, aided by a deep three-pointer from Allen and a transition jumper by point guard Pe’Shon Howard. Consecutive three-pointers from Aronhalt and Howard pushed the lead to double digits.
“It’s always good to learn from a win,” Aronhalt said. “We saw some flashes of brilliance out there, and at times it was looking ugly. We just didn’t have the energy we needed in the first half. First game, we’ve got a lot of young guys on the team. Even in the warmups they were just trying to figure things out. After we settled in, we took care of business.”