Mark Turgeon’s decision to re-insert freshman Diamond Stone into the starting lineup against Iowa this week was not a spur-of-the moment decision.
After Maryland topped the Hawkeyes, 74-68, on Thursday night in College Park, Turgeon said it was a long time in the making and that Stone had been ready to start again for about the last five games.
Now, Turgeon said during a conference call on Saturday afternoon, Stone will be there for the foreseeable future.
“He has inserted himself into the starting lineup and you saw us using him on offense and Damonte on defense,” Turgeon said. “As long as he continues to improve, which he is, I think it helps everybody if he’s in our starting lineup.”
But a few of the same troubles that plagued Stone last time he was a full-time starter showed again early on.
Iowa center Adam Woodbury had five points through the first four minutes of the game as the Hawkeyes worked the ball inside. Stone picked up an early foul and was out of the game by the under-16 timeout.
Turgeon realizes that.
“I think the only way he’s going to get better is if he just goes through those situations,” he said. “Obviously it wasn’t the best start for him with foul trouble and all that, but he’s getting better staying out as the game went on and I think as he gets used to that starting experience … he’ll get better with it. He just needs the experience.”
At this point in the season, though, a team's best players have to play the most minutes and Stone is unquestionably a part of that. From an efficiency perspective, he is one of the most valuable players on Maryland's roster.
In just over 20 minutes per game, he is posting 13 points and 5.4 rebounds per game while shooting nearly 60 percent from the floor and 81 percent from the free throw line. The hope is that his efficiency persists as the minutes load is increased.
Maryland faces Ohio State on Sunday at 1 p.m.