For the weeks leading into center Alex Len‘s debut, Maryland coach Mark Turgeon described how the Terrapins would practice one way and play another.
It was a fact of life that impacted some players in December.
Ashton Pankey happens to be dealing with the aftereffects now.
The redshirt freshman has struggled over the three games since Len’s return, managing seven points and four rebounds in 58 minutes of work off the bench.
“Alex has come in and played and he’s taken some of his minutes,” Turgeon said Saturday. “Pankey was playing all the five spot for us, guarding the biggest guy on the floor and always at the five. Now Alex comes in and we don’t want to confuse Alex so Alex is just going to play the five.”
The stretch comes right after Pankey rattled off three straight double-digit scoring games, including a career-best 17 points against Radford on Dec. 23.
Since then, Pankey’s only tried four shots and scuffled at both ends of the floor.
“It’s just a transition for him,” Turgeon said. “When things aren’t going well for Ashton, he doesn’t handle it very well. It’s part of maturity and growing up. He can’t let the first possession affect the rest of the game. But when things go good, he plays well. If he makes his first shot or he gets a rebound, he usually plays pretty well. He has to grow up and realize not every game is going to go perfect and do what he does well. It’s all part of it. I’m starting to see a little growth out of him, which is good.”
—- Patrick Stevens