Seated courtside at the scorer’s table for Maryland’s scrimmage at Comcast Center on Saturday, Pe’Shon Howard had a terrific vantage point for assessing what the shorthanded Terrapins need to work on.
“A lot of things,” said Howard, who won’t be able to help anytime soon as he’s sidelined by a broken foot for 10 to 12 weeks. The sophomore point guard proceeded to enumerate them: “Defense. Rebounding. Offensive patience. Not turning it over. Making the simple play. The list could go on forever.”
Howard was quick to add that he suspected every college basketball team had an equally long to-do list at this point in the year. But there’s no mistaking, as Coach Mark Turgeon told the few hundred fans on hand, that the Maryland men’s basketball team is very much “a work in progress” two weeks before its Nov. 13 season opener.
Howard’s broken left foot, apparently suffered a week ago but not diagnosed until Wednesday, represents the latest challenge for Turgeon, who is now down to seven available scholarship players.
The coach confirmed Saturday what the scrimmage made apparent: Sophomore Terrell Stoglin, the team’s best shooter, will be expected to start at point guard and score. And 6-foot-6 freshman Nick Faust, who bristles with promise, will serve as the backup point guard — a role Turgeon never envisioned until Howard’s injury.
Losing Howard “was a big blow,” Turgeon said. “Pe’Shon was really practicing well and playing well. He was our leader. It puts a lot on Terrell . . . and it puts a lot on Nick.”
Leaning on crutches, his left foot in a walking boot, Howard was upbeat Saturday, vowing to do his best to help his teammates as he rehabilitated the broken bone. Asked about taking a medical redshirt this season, Howard said he would do whatever was in the team’s best interest. If that meant taking the year off, so be it.
“If I redshirt, that gives me another year in College Park, and I love College Park,” said Howard, a Los Angeles native. “I love college. I could be here forever, really. If they gave me 10 redshirts, I’d be fine. It’s all about what the team needs.”
For now, the Terrapins need more bodies, more stamina and more time to prepare — particularly with Howard’s injury leading to a major reworking of the starting lineup and Turgeon’s offense. With just four guards among seven available scholarship players, Turgeon can’t script a running game. His players were winded Saturday after 20 minutes.
Faust led all players with 15 points. Center Berend Weijs had 13, and redshirt freshman Ashton Pankey was a strong force under the boards.
Among the six walk-ons — who worked against a presumptive starting lineup of Sean Mosley, Stoglin, Faust, Weijs and Pankey — the most impressive was 6-7 sophomore forward John Auslander.
Maryland will hold a closed scrimmage Sunday against George Washington. Meanwhile, Turgeon is still awaiting word from the NCAA about the eligibility of 7-1 freshman center Alex Len, who’s prohibited from practicing with the team until a decision is reached.