COLLEGE PARK -- Maryland freshman Diamond Stone started for the first time in seven games on Wednesday night against Rutgers. It turns out, that was the result of a procedural error before the game, as hinted at postgame by senior Jake Layman without further elaboration.
But on Thursday while speaking with the media, head coach Mark Turgeon filled in the details.
“It was a mistake. It happened in the [score]book and good thing we had a good player who was ready to play,” he said. “I thought he handled it well for not being mentally prepared for it, so it happens. But it better not happen again.”
It made for an unusual scene before the game.
Stone was listed as the starting center on the XFINITY Center scoreboard and in the online scorebook available to media. Even the public address announcer introduced Stone as the starter, accompanied by a graphic featuring Stone’s picture being shown on the overhead videoboard.
But Dodd stood up off the bench and ran through the two parallel lines of reserve players that had been formed (as usual) for the introduction ceremony. Stone was in one of those lines as if he were meant to be a reserve.
When both teams took the floor, though, Stone was the team’s starting center. He did just fine, as Turgeon said, tallying a double-double of 15 points and 10 rebounds.
“The main goal is to win so if me coming off the bench ... projects us to win, then I’ll do it,” Stone said. “If me starting makes us win, then I’ll start. So it’s pretty much whatever it takes to win.”
Expect Stone to be back coming off the bench on Saturday against Wisconsin.
What Turgeon’s adjustment to move Stone to the sixth man's role has done is shielded Stone from foul trouble while shuffling his other, more defensive-minded pieces like Dodd and Michal Cekovsky into more advantageous spots in the rotation. The result has been a more balanced team with more flexibility because there has been less foul trouble.
“What Diamond wants to be is he wants to be on the floor in a close game at the end of the game,” Turgeon said. “That means he’s arrived.
“Will we continue to do this the rest of the year? I don’t know. But right now it’s working for us.”