COLLEGE PARK -- Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon had to smirk as he said it after his team’s 96-55 victory over St. Francis (PA), looking at the stat line for Ivan Bender in his collegiate debut -- four minutes, five points, six rebounds.
“Six rebounds in four minutes -- that’s 60 rebounds in a 40-minute game, so that was great,” Turgeon said. “For his first time on the floor, I thought he acted really mature and showed great poise. Really happy for him because he’s such a great kid.”
Bender redshirted last season as he continued to recover from a knee injury, then was suspended by the NCAA for the first six games of the 2015-16 season because of an eligibility issue.
Yes, he played his four minutes against the St. Francis bench, but as Turgeon said he showed poise and aggressiveness -- punctuated by a dunk on a fast break for two of his four points.
If Bender’s minutes are limited, it’s not because of a lack of skill, as both Turgeon and junior forward Robert Carter, Jr. pointed out.
“We got a lot of big guys,” Carter said. “Coach is already trying to shuffle around four big guys and you got another big that doesn’t even play that much, so you can only imagine how tough it is on Coach to just try to play everybody.”
Damonte Dodd, Michal Cekovsky, Diamond Stone, and Carter have more or less solidified themselves as the post rotation so far in the early part of the season.
Bender’s presence can help if there is foul trouble in a given game, but realistically Maryland is already trying to work with a nine-game rotation as is.
“We have so many good bigs,” Turgeon said, “it’s hard to get guys in the game.”