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Maryland Basketball Showing Bright Spots Despite Injuries and Inconsistent Play

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Can these bright spots translate to wins in the Big Ten?

NCAA Basketball: Maryland at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

It has been an interesting non-conference season for the Terrapins this season.

The Terps are 10-3 and likely to enter the remaining portion of Big Ten season at 12-3, but it is difficult to grasp just how good Mark Turgeon’s squad is.

They are certainly talented. Anthony Cowan has developed into a go-to scorer, Kevin Huerter’s range is from the halfcourt line and talented freshmen Bruno Fernando and Darryl Morsell have shown flashes of spirited play.

Still, inconsistency reigns for the Terps. Maryland needed to come from behind to beat Bucknell and Catholic (MD), lost to St. Bonaventure at home and skirted opportunities to beat quality opponents like Purdue and Syracuse. A win over Butler is their only KenPom top 50 victory.

Injuries have contributed to some of the inconsistency, but it could be a blessing in disguise as the rest of Big Ten play looms.

The last two victories over Gardner-Webb and Division II opponent Catholic saw key contributors Justin Jackson, Fernando miss with various injuries. Dion Wiley was also out against Catholic due to sickness.

Despite some early game issues against both opponents, some key bench players contributed quality minutes. Take a look below at some contributions from Maryland’s roster during this interesting stretch.

Joshua Tomaic

The 6-foot-9 redshirt freshman forward logged just 17 minutes in five games this season before being thrust into action the past two games. In those two games, Tomaic has played an average of 16.5 minutes. He has made the most of this opportunity.

A stretch during the first half of the Gardner-Webb game showed Tomaic’s potential. Tomaic stretched the defense with a three-pointer to put Maryland up double digits and then recorded a block in the final minute of the half to show off his defensive abilities.

Tomaic finished with nine points and six rebounds in 16 minutes. He followed this up against Catholic with seven points and eight rebounds in 17 minutes with another block and three-pointer.

After Jackson and Fernando returns from their injuries, it will be interesting to see where he might fit in the rotation. Turgeon has to be encouraged by his play, and he gives Maryland a different dynamic when he is on the floor.

Ivan Bender

The junior forward’s minutes have dropped this season from 14.3 to 11.3 per game, but he’s provided some good minutes against Gardner-Webb and Catholic.

The Gardner-Webb game in particular was a nice showcase of his “jack of all trades” skill set.

Bender played 17 minutes and scored just four points, but also grabbed five rebounds, distributed seven assists and had a block and steal.

He followed up that performance with six points and six rebounds against Catholic.

Bender’s minutes again might decrease when the starters return, but it has to be encouraging that the veteran Bender has handled the minutes reduction well and has played hard when given the opportunity. More opportunities could arise in Big Ten play.

Darryl Morsell

The electrifying freshman guard came out of the gates like a bolt of lightning, but struggled during the middle portion of their schedule. After a 3-16 performance against Purdue, it seems clear that Morsell has been instructed now to rush things. It is encouraging for Maryland that he seems to be responding well.

Morsell has shot over 40 percent from the field over the last four games. He had maybe his best game as a Terrapin against Gardner-Webb with 18 points on 6-8 shooting. Morsell refused to settle for jump shots and got to the line for seven attempts, converting six times.

The takeaway here is that Morsell will remain more in the rotation even with the injured players returning. With those players removed, Morsell was patient and efficient. With his talent, should this continue, Morsell will be a consistent double figure scorer.

Overall

Maryland continues to be a confounding team. Opportunities to earn top 50 KenPom wins begin in January, so getting healthy now is imperative.

While some of the play hasn’t been pretty over the past couple weeks, there are certain contributors who have shown promise. The change to get reps, earn confidence in themselves and from Turgeon could pay dividends down the line in Big Ten play.