The Washington Times - March 7, 2012, 07:33PM

ATLANTA – A year ago, Mychal Parker played all of 80 minutes and rarely received meaningful work.

There were more than enough playing time to go around this season, meaning the Maryland guard wouldn’t be underutilized.

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“I feel like this year has been prosperous,” Parker said Wednesday at Philips Arena, the day before the Terrapins meet Wake Forest in the ACC tournament. “I feel like I grew in a lot of ways this year, definitely on the defensive end.”

No one familiar with Parker’s recruitment to Maryland would have guessed he would rely on defense to remain on the floor (he averaged 17.8 minutes and 4.2 points this season).

And that includes Parker, who acknowledged defense wasn’t so much a weakness as something he simply didn’t have to concern himself with before arriving in College Park.

“I didn’t,” Parker said. “It’s very different. It’s really difficult. Not playing defense your whole life and you come to college and you have to play defense or you’re going to get killed, it was really hard for me to switch.”

Parker’s minutes have increased since Pe’Shon Howard was lost for the season with a knee injury last month. He’s played at least 18 minutes in six of the last seven games after reaching that plateau once in the previous 11.

How far has his defense come? Clearly not enough to completely satisfy Mark Turgeon – though Parker is appreciative of the effort the Maryland coach has put into helping him improve.

“He always gets on my case and tells me I have to get better and have to go harder,” Parker said. “I’ll be thinking that I’m going hard, but he’ll say ‘You have to go harder and have to give me your all.’ And I just want to thank coach for that.”

Patrick Stevens