Terps win in Pe’Shon Howard’s return, but team is still far from finished product

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Maryland guard Pe’Shon Howard played for the first time all season Friday. It did not solve all of the Terrapins’ troubles.

Freshman center Alex Len will debut next week. He, too, is unlikely to prove a complete panacea.

Maryland is unquestionably better with two more scholarship players. Howard is more of a known quantity and provided a lift in a 65-60 defeat of Radford. Len is a less known variable, though he will help fortify the Terps’ frontcourt.

Neither, though, is an elixir to make everything perfect for Maryland (7-3).

“We’re starting over,” coach Mark Turgeon said. “It’s a guessing game. I feel like we’re starting over.”

It’s especially true for a man who repeatedly says he coaches by feel. Most of the time, a rotation is set once nonconference play winds to a close. Turgeon’s just getting started at figuring out how Maryland will look.

One thing was clear from the Terps’ latest home scare: Howard will be a big part of the Terps’ identity going forward.

The sophomore, who suffered a broken foot in October and missed eight weeks, didn’t start against the Highlanders (3-11). But he was in within three minutes, receiving a solid ovation from the half-capacity crowd.

More telling: He logged 32 minutes, more than any Terp besides Terrell Stoglin.

Most telling: He checked with 11:32 left in the second half and never came back out.

The points (seven) and assists (three) and the no-look passes (one right out of the chute) were helpful. The long stint, though, revealed plenty about a player who said he was unsurprised with the work asked of him.

“It was kind a test for myself, too, just seeing how far we could push it,” Howard said.

In Turgeon’s ideal scenario, he would probably ease Howard back into the lineup. Ten minutes here, another 15 there. Three more games remain before the Terps’ Jan. 8 ACC opener at N.C. State, more than enough time to re-acclimate the starting point guard.

Except there isn’t a ton ideal about the Terps’ predicament. Maryland hasn’t won a game by double figures yet, which doesn’t detract from a four-game winning streak but is hardly eye-catching, either.

Howard, as well as he fared for a guy playing his first college game in nine months, didn’t summon the mojo for a blowout. Radford, which has not defeated a Division I team since Nov. 11, shot well from the perimeter in the first half before making only four shots from the floor after the break.

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