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Maryland Basketball 2011-12: First Look

It's that time again.

The leaves are changing, the weather is getting a little chilly, and the sun is setting earlier each day. It can only mean one thing:

College basketball is upon us. 

Tomorrow night, Oct. 14, officially marks the first day of practice. Basketball programs all across the country will be celebrating the start of a new season with their own versions of Midnight Madness, and it will be no different here at Maryland, who actually started the tradition 40 years ago. 

The buzz surrounding Maryland Madness this year, however, will be largely centered around new Head Coach Mark Turgeon. Turgeon was hired after longtime Maryland legend Gary Williams retired from the position back in May. Turgeon's hire was marked with some trepidation among the Terrapin Faithful, but so far he has proven that he means business.

Three 2011 recruits have already committed to the Terrapins - Seth Allen, Shaq Cleare, and Jake Layman - which is good for #11 in the nation on ESPN's class rankings. And Turgeon and his staff are not done yet. They remain in the hunt for several elite prospects, including Mitch McGary, Amile Jefferson, and Robert Carter. 

For now though, the Turgeon and the Terps are going to focus on the upcoming season. There are some immediate challenges, one being the fact that the players will have to adjust to an entirely new coaching style. Additionally, the team was hit hard when Jordan Williams - one of the best big men in the ACC - left early for the NBA, and when Haukur Palsson - a rising sophomore who was expected to compete for a starting spot, - decided to pursue a professional career in Europe instead. 

That, along with the departure of graduated senior Dino Gregory, has left the team with big holes in the front court. Turgeon will rely on James Padgett and Berend Weijs - two players who have little experience in big games - and redshirt freshman Ashton Pankey, who has not played in two years due to injuries, to pick up the slack. 

The guard situation at Maryland looks much better off. The Terps return 2010-11 All-ACC Freshman team member Terrell Stoglin, as well as veteran senior Sean Mosley and flashy sophomore Pe'Shon Howard. Also looking to make an immediate impact will be highly regarded freshman Nick Faust, and sophomore Mychal Parker

A surprise to the 2011-12 Maryland basketball team could come in the form of Ukrainian big man Alex Len, who is awaiting word from the NCAA Clearinghouse as to whether he will be cleared to play this season. Len is listed at 7'1," and could possibly be a huge boost to a currently under-sized front court. 

After Maryland Madness on Oct. 14, your first chance to see the Terps in action this season will be an exhibition game on Nov. 4, when they host Northwood at 8 p.m. Their first official game will be Nov. 13 at home versus UNC Wilmington. After that, the team will be immediately tested when they travel to Puerto Rico for the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, which includes Alabama, Wichita St., and Colorado. 

The rest of their non-conference slate will be highlighted by a home match against Illinois in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, a game against Notre Dame in the BB&T Classic, and a contest in January against Temple at the historic Palestra. 


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