COLLEGE PARK -- After much offseason hype, the No. 3 Maryland Terrapins will take the court Friday night for the first time in live action against another opponent when Division II Southern New Hampshire comes to XFINITY Center in College Park.
Here are 5 things you need to know to preview the matchup.
1) “Work in progress”
Maryland’s core of players had a disjointed summer, with players like Melo Trimble, Rasheed Sulaimon, and Diamond Stone being fully available to practice together at varying times because of academic loose-end-tying or Team USA commitments.
So head coach Mark Turgeon says that, though he doesn’t want to make excuses, his team is trying to catch up fully from a chemistry standpoint and a rotation standpoint because they did not have the full summer together.
We’ll see some of that hashing out of details in Friday’s exhibition.
2) Bino Ranson’s connection
Maryland assistant coach Bino Ranson graduated from Southern New Hampshire in 1999 after a decorated playing career at the school. He graduated as the school’s seventh-leading scorer, fifth-leading assister, and third-most prolific shooter from three-point range.
He has been invaluable to Maryland during Turgeon’s tenure, especially as a recruiter. Turgeon talked for an extended time Thursday singing his praises.
3) Facing a smaller team
Like most Division II teams when compared to Division I teams (especially Power 5 schools), Southern New Hampshire will run small lineups. The team’s tallest player is 6-8 senior BJ Cardarelli and they list only one player as a center.
For Maryland, that means either challenging themselves by running bigger lineups and forcing players like Robert Carter to defend smaller players or go small and see what types of lineups come from that.
Southern New Hampshire spaces the floor and shoots the ball from the perimeter, so Maryland knows what is coming.
Versatility will be one of Maryland’s biggest strengths this season, with the variety of ball handlers and ability to shift forwards and centers are to play either really big or really fast.
With that versatility comes the need to make decisions. How will the guard lineups be shuffled? Melo Trimble, Rasheed Sulaimon, and Jaylen Brantley are all capable ball handlers.
Frontcourt? Is Diamond Stone a starter right now? More on that below. Damonte Dodd, Michal Cekovsky, Jake Layman, and Robert Carter will be moved around at the four and five spots, or the three when it comes to Layman and possibly Carter.
5) Diamond’s big jump
Turgeon said that five-star freshman Diamond Stone has taken a big step forward over the past two weeks. He came to college as a standout offensive player, but it was the defensive end of the floor where he needed the most work.
It’s still not clear if he’ll begin the season in the starting lineup or if junior Damonte Dodd will start at that position, but we could start to get an indication of what Turgeon is thinking with Friday’s exhibition.
In my opinion, bringing him off the bench -- at least early in the season -- could benefit him. His offense would solidify the second unit and he could shift to power forward if he wanted alongside a player like Michal Cekovsky.
Second-unit power forwards would help him get his feet wet defensively and he could have his way with them on the other end of the floor.