- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 20, 2012

Maryland’s priorities did not change over a nine-day break for final exams.

The Terrapins’ opportunities to address them were decidedly scattershot during that stretch.

There were two days off, a mentally draining three-day run of practices and then another day without practice.

All the while, coach Mark Turgeon knows Maryland (9-1) must still deal with its turnover issues, its sometimes-sluggish offense and a defense he’ll probably never be entirely satisfied with.

“It’s a dysfunctional time, it’s a hard time,” Turgeon said. “Look at some of the scores. Some games are closer games than there should be, there are some upsets. It’s got my attention.”

For good reason, since Stony Brook (8-2) visits Comcast Center on Friday. It will be the Terps’ only game in a 16-day span and arguably their trickiest nonconference test at home.

That might seem like damning with faint praise, considering some of the lightweights Turgeon scheduled before he knew what his roster actually would look like. Yet the Seawolves (under former George Washington assistant Steve Pikiell) are expected to contend for the America East title and perhaps earn their first NCAA tournament bid.

They already have played since exiting their own final exams (Tuesday’s victory at Sacred Heart), a source of some angst for Turgeon as a rotation with four freshmen comes out of the end-of-semester break.

“It’s all how you approach it,” Turgeon said. “I’m a little concerned because we have so many new guys, and they really had to work hard leading up to finals and during finals. That’s my biggest concern. Every team is different.”

This one just happens to have Turgeon frustrated with its inability to match his lofty expectations.

Maryland still can get to 10-1 for the first time since 1998-99. Center Alex Len emerged as a more potent force from the opening game. Guard Pe’Shon Howard functions as an effective table-setter. Guard Dez Wells made an instant difference after being declared eligible last month.

Just three games remain before the start of Maryland’s penultimate run through the ACC, with Friday posing a once-a-year brand of difficulty because of the team’s off-and-on activity over the last week.

“This is what we signed up for,” Howard said. “Everybody knows what to expect, so everyone’s up to the challenge.”

This particular challenge, it turns out, might be a way for the Terps to avoid any post-exams doldrums. At least that’s what Turgeon hopes.

“The good thing for us is we’re playing a good Stony Brook team,” Turgeon said. “Nationally, people might not know how good Stony Brook is, but we do.”

Notes: Turgeon said junior forward John Auslander will miss the rest of the season with a broken left tibia. Auslander averaged 1.3 points and 0.5 rebounds in four games as Maryland’s 11th man.

Maryland won its only previous meeting with Stony Brook, 107-59 in 2000.

The Terps are 23-1 all-time against current members of America East.

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