- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 3, 2021

For the next one to two weeks, the Maryland basketball team will be without a key starter — but the team has gained an extra coach.

Darryl Morsell underwent successful surgery Friday to repair a fractured bone in his face, suffered midway through Thursday’s loss to Michigan. The senior guard will miss Monday’s matchup against Indiana and won’t be able to return for another week beyond that, leaving a leadership void on the court.

So in the meantime, Morsell has shifted roles, handing out instructions even while holding an ice pack on his swollen face.

“He’s been a coach on the sideline,” Terrapins guard Hakim Hart said. “He’s been helping the younger guys, like me and stuff like that, with teaching points on the defensive end, because that’s what he’s really good at.”

Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said Morsell’s pain level has been manageable despite the persistent swelling. He isn’t traveling with the team to Bloomington, Indiana. Morsell suffered the injury when Wolverines guard Franz Wagner elbowed him in the face.

Morsell had a visible dimple on his face and was soon ruled out for the remainder of the contest. He went to the shock trauma center in Baltimore after Thursday’s game, where his parents met him. The next morning, he had surgery.

“We feel like he’s on the right track,” Turgeon said. “During practice, he’s got ice on it the whole time. He’s our toughest kid, so we’ll see [about the timeframe]. … It’s different without him. Obviously, he’s a real important part of our team. You’re asking more out of more people.”

Morsell has started 90 games in his career, often assigned with shutting down the opposing team’s best offensive player. He’s averaging 7.7 points in 25.5 minutes per game this season, along with eight total blocks and eight total steals.

Without a dominant interior defender, Maryland has used small-ball lineups frequently this year. That’s left the trio of Morsell, Jairus Hamilton and Donta Scott to battle with larger players down low. With Morsell unavaible, there will likely be an increased workload for Hamilton and Scott.

And Hart will find his way into the starting lineup for the third time this season. Hart replaced guard Aaron Wiggins in the lineup on Dec. 4 against St. Peter’s, and the sophomore knocked down five triples en route to a career-high 32 points.

Having that game in his recent memory boosts his confidence heading into Monday’s matchup with the Hoosiers.

“My mentality is that I’ve started before,” Hart said. “Just got to keep that mindset that just got to go and win the game.”

From the sidelines during practice, Morsell has stressed to his teammates the importance of playing hard each possession. The Terrapins have seen a touch of inconsistency in that regard this season. In the Big Ten opener, Maryland looked flat in a loss to Rutgers. Turgeon’s squad then knocked off No. 6 Wisconsin last week before falling to No. 16 Michigan.

The Terrapins have a difficult road ahead — just like every other Big Ten team, playing in the toughest conference in the country. After facing Indiana, there’s No. 10 Iowa and No. 15 Illinois.

Morsell’s experience and leadership could help in those matchups, depending on when he’s cleared to return. But without him, Maryland must adapt.

“Darryl, he’s a tough kid,” Hamilton said. “He just brings so much energy to our team. Offensively, defensively, he just has a huge presence on the court. It’s been definitely a team contribution trying to pick up that energy and all that toughness that he brings daily. Now we’re just trying to figure out how we move on with him being out however long he’s going to be out.”

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