The starting lineup unveiled Sunday on the Comcast Center video board minutes before Maryland’s opener against UNC Wilmington uncorked new coach Mark Turgeon’s first game-day surprise.
Sophomore guard Terrell Stoglin was coming off the bench.
Over the next two hours, something less surprising happened: Stoglin scored a team-high 22 points in the Terrapins’ 71-62 victory.
“He was real tuned in,” forward James Padgett said. “He made a lot of shots. He played a good game, one of the best games I’ve ever seen him play by far.”
Turgeon said Stoglin’s absence from the starting lineup was “nothing big.” Stoglin said what led to the brief benching was between him and the first-year coach. Considering Stoglin logged 33 minutes anyway, it was hardly a major development.
Still, it was another step in perhaps the most important relationship Turgeon must forge if the undermanned Terps (1-0) are to be competitive over the next four months.
Turgeon understandably desires an emphasis on defense and valuing possession. With only seven scholarship players at his disposal for the first third of the regular season, those issues are amplified.
The 6-foot-1 Stoglin, meanwhile, occasionally showed interest in defense as a freshman and committed more than a few turnovers while trying to create offense.
Stoglin, of course, wants to play. It’s also evident Stoglin is by far the most effective scorer Turgeon inherited. The preseason work open to the public —- both a team scrimmage and an exhibition game —- hinted Stoglin won’t instantaneously become the player Turgeon desires.
But both Stoglin and Turgeon need each other for Maryland to enjoy any level of success. And Sunday, once Stoglin checked in nearly three minutes into the game, the coach and the player both had reason to be pleased.
“Terrell played his tail off tonight,” Turgeon said. “He guarded. He was in a stance, he was in position, he played shots. He made one mistake and let the guy drive around him and went back to his old habits, but I think some things that transpired for him to not be in the starting lineup today allowed him to play the way [he did].”
Stoglin provided more than the much-needed scoring he’ll be counted upon to deliver all year. He committed three turnovers, though Turgeon said two in the second half came as a result of doing the right thing within the offense. He split time at the point with Nick Faust. And he made four late free throws to finish sealing the victory.
Maryland, though, won’t win many high-scoring games this season. The Terps grew weary toward the end Sunday, even as Turgeon deftly shuttled walk-ons John Auslander and Jonathan Thomas in for cameos throughout the night.
Hence the attention paid to Stoglin’s defensive work.
“I heard all last year I couldn’t play defense, so it’s something I wanted to work on and get in better shape and I felt like I did a great job today,” Stoglin said.
Couldn’t or wouldn’t is a debate for another time. But there’s no question the Tucson, Ariz., native heard the criticism.
“It bothered me because I know I can,” Stoglin said.
Now, so does Turgeon, whose evolving relationship with his prolific guard figured to be one of the Terps’ fascinating subplots. It just so happened to emerge in the season’s first game.
“He feels at all times, I should be ready, I should have a great attitude,” Stoglin said. “I need to be more vocal, he says. Everything he tells me, I’m just going to try to do and just become a better basketball player. What he has to say is to help me, not hurt me.”
—- Patrick Stevens