After cruising to victory in their exhibition game on Friday, the Maryland Terrapins will begin their regular season on Tuesday night against Holy Cross.
The Crusaders had a middling season last year going 16-17, but then endured an offseason of change. Head coach Bill Carmody retired and former Marquette assistant Brett Nelson took over. On the court, they also faced some key departures, as three of their top four scorers from last year are gone. Junior guard Austin Butler is the Crusaders best returning player.
Under Carmody, the Crusaders played a slower, more half-court centric game. They were dead last in the Patriot League in pace of play and allowed the second-lowest points per game. They also had the worst rebounding differential in the conference. A new coach combined with a newly constructed roster makes it harder for the Terps to scout.
“We don’t have any film on Holy Cross whatsoever. They got a new coach so we’re going into this a little bit blind tomorrow night,” head coach Mark Turgeon said. “It comes down to your defensive principles and playing hard.”
One thing to monitor for the Terps is the starting lineup. Senior point guard Anthony Cowan Jr. was not in the starting lineup on Friday, but Turgeon insisted he will be on Tuesday. As for the other four spots, Turgeon says he had an idea of who the starting lineup would be entering Monday’s practice but an unidentified player “took the day off” (meaning he did not practice hard) so it is likely said player will not start tomorrow.
Assuming Cowan does start it will be his 100th career start in as many games, which is a rare feat in college basketball. Cowan is the first Terp to do so since Melo Trimble, who started all 104 games in his three-year career.
“I’m happy that coach gave me the opportunity to get to a good start here to my career at Maryland,” the senior point guard said. “It means a lot he had some confidence to put the ball in my hands early.”
Maryland deployed 11 players in the first half of Friday’s exhibition, so look for Turgeon to continue to go to his bench as it is one of their strong suits. With Maryland being a heavy favorite, expect to see freshmen Donta Scott, Makhi Mitchell, Makhel Mitchell and even Hakim Hart get some playing time.
“I didn’t think we were a deep team a month ago. I didn’t think we were a deep team even two weeks ago. Even a week ago I wasn’t sure how deep we were,” Turgeon said. “It’s been really good growth out of the new guys, which has made us a deeper team. I think you saw that with Makhi and Donta on Friday night.”
Under Turgeon, the Terps have won five consecutive season openers and will look to make that six in a row on Tuesday night. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at the Xfinity Center and the game can be streamed on BTN +.
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