Terps fans will have their first chance to see the sophomore trio of Kevin Huerter, Justin Jackson and Anthony Cowan teamed up with freshman Bruno Fernando.
The Maryland Terrapins travel to New York to play the Stony Brook Seawolves Friday night to begin the 2017-18 season.
There was speculation that Fernando would not play in the season opener after suffering an ankle injury about three weeks ago, which has kept him off the court for most of the preseason.
That speculation is now gone, as Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon announced that Fernando will be in the game against the Seawolves.
“He was playing at a really high level [before the ankle injury], and that changed some things,” Turgeon said of the 6-foot-10 forward from Angola. “He has some big upside. He can do some things that no one else can do on our team.”
Friday’s game against the Terps and the Seawolves will be the fourth time the two teams have met in the head-to-head series. Maryland holds a 3-0 advantage over Stony Brook, including a 77-63 victory last season at the Xfinity Center.
Maryland has made a habit of playing well on the road and in season openers. Maryland was 11-4 away from Xfinity Center last year, and it is 16-4 in opening games since the 1997-98 season, including a current three-game win streak.
Turgeon said there are pros and cons to starting the season on the road. A benefit is having a large alumni base in New York. A con, Turgeon said, is scheduling Stony Brook so close to their campus.
“They have a ton of [offensive] sets, so they’re really going to test us, defensively,” Turgeon said.
Aside from Fernando, senior center Michal Cekovsky will make his return Friday night after sustaining an ankle injury that kept him out of the final lineup for the last six games of the season.
“He’s practiced every practice, he hasn’t sat out a play,” Turgeon said. “We’ve had some tough practices, and he’s played through all of them. He should be ready to go.”
Huerter said he is excited to get the season rolling.
“This is the best time of the year,” he said. “Ever since the buzzer went off last year, we’ve been ready to get back out there. I think we’re all excited.”
Freshman Darryl Morsell will also make his official debut with the team against Stony Brook. Morsell has already shown what kind of force he can be for the Terps by putting up 14 points and three rebounds in an exhibition game against Randolph-Macon last week.
Huerter said Morsell was “a baller” before the team departed for Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, New York on Thursday.
“It was nice to see him aggressive [against Randolph-Macon],” Huerter said. “I don’t know if I expected him to be as aggressive as he was, but he’s a player. He’s a baller and we expect that from him.”
Turgeon said he doesn’t really know who will be in the starting lineup Friday night. Because of the injuries and other factors, he hasn’t really been able to settle in on one starting lineup.
But Turgeon would like to change the lineup based on who Maryland is playing.
“We can play some big lineups, we can play some small lineups,” Turgeon said. “And I think that’s something new for the guys to understand. I hope we can settle on eight or nine guys we’re comfortable with.”
Cowan said the depth Maryland has just shows that anyone can play and have a big game.
“It’s not just going to be one person like it was last year,” he said. “It’s going to be more spread out.”