COLLEGE PARK -- Diamond Stone struggled against seven-foot Georgetown senior Bradley Hayes on Tuesday, despite Maryland’s win. So head coach Mark Turgeon made the decision to bring him off the bench on Friday against Rider.
That must have done the trick.
Stone was the catalyst that a struggling Maryland offense needed, scoring 10 of his 12 points in the second half of the Terrapins’ 65-58 come-from-behind victory at XFINITY Center in College Park.
“I like to think he’s a competitor and he responded and responded the right way and that’s what you want as a coach -- him to respond the right way -- and that’s what he did in the second half,” Turgeon said postgame. “We don’t win the game without him. He was terrific.”
After the Maryland deficit grew to 14 points with 16:19 to play, Stone scored eight of Maryland’s next 13 points to help trim Rider’s lead all the way down to four. That run included a Stone putback slam that ignited what had been a dormant Maryland crowd up to that point.
He was the interior presence that Turgeon’s team had lacked up to that point and he finally gave them some inside-out options to free shooters on the perimeter.
“I was just waiting for him to call my number,” Stone said, “and once he did, I went and performed.”
But Stone’s offensive skill has never been questioned. It is defensively where he has had to progress the most and still must progress going forward.
When Maryland trailed in the second half, they switched to a 1-3-1 zone for spurts and stuck Stone in the middle. He ended up blocking two shots, which were not only big defensive plays but helped to liven the crowd as well.
“[Turgeon] challenged me on the defensive end,” Stone said. “He wants me to do a lot defensively so I have to step up to the challenge. It’s hard every day.”
The motivational tactic to bring Stone off the bench worked once, but he may be too valuable to keep there for long.