Intrigue abounds as No. 21 Maryland tips off with Quinnipiac

NCAA Men

As Maryland slogged through a disjointed 17-14 season, the Terps often appeared to have five wings on the floor — strong players, but none with a clearly defined role.

That won’t be a problem this season.

As he enters his 11th season in College Park, coach Mark Turgeon has a true point guard to run the offense and an imposing center to anchor the defense.

Mining the transfer portal, Turgeon secured 5-foot-11 grad transfer Fatts Russell, the all-time steals leader at Rhode Island, and 6-11 Qudus Wahab, the top rebounder and shot blocker last season at Big East champion Georgetown.

The new arrivals will bring intrigue and promise in their Maryland debut on Tuesday night when the No. 21 Terps of the Big Ten host Quinnipiac of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.

“We were missing two pieces last year, and it was a true point guard and a center,” Turgeon said. “It was really obvious, so right away it kind of makes us complete.”

Mix the two new pieces with a trio of returning starters, and Maryland suddenly has an experienced, well-rounded starting five. Eric Ayala, last year’s top scorer (15.1 ppg) and a fixture in the lineup for the fourth straight year, is on the Jerry West Award watch list after exploring his NBA stock last spring.

Donta Scott has a perimeter touch to go with his physical presence at 6-8 and 230 pounds. Scott shot 44 percent from beyond the arc, averaging 11 points and a team-high 5.9 rebounds. Hakim Hart, a 6-8 swingman who averaged 7.1 points per game, has breakout potential as a long, athletic rim runner and perimeter threat.

Off the bench, Turgeon can turn to two other experienced guards who arrived via the portal. Grad transfer Xavier Green (Old Dominion) is a rugged defender at 6-6 and a former Conference USA tournament MVP. Ian Martinez (Utah) averaged 5.2 ppg last season.

Another key bench piece is 6-8 James Graham, who has dropped 35 pounds since his arrival last season as a mid-season enrollee from high school.

“It’s a well-constructed team. That’s hard to do,” Turgeon said. “We’re still figuring out our team. We’ll look a lot different in February.”

Maryland won’t be the only experienced team on the floor on Tuesday. Quinnipiac has four returning starters from last season’s 9-13 team and another who not only started in the past for the Bobcats, but led the nation in rebounding.

After a disappointing season at Texas Tech, where the fit wasn’t right, Kevin Marfo, a 6-9, 245-pound forward, has returned to Quinnipiac as a grad transfer. Two years ago, Marfo averaged 10.2 points and 13.3 rebounds per game, tops in Division I.

Marfo will rejoin familiar teammates Jacob Rigoni, a five-year starter who led the team last year in points (11.8 pg), rebounds (6.3 pg) and 3-pointers (52), and guard Tyrese Williams, a four-year starter who averaged 7.1 points per game.

Fifth-year coach Baker Dunleavy also will count on returning starters Savion Lewis, who averaged 8.4 ppg and led the team in assists with 3.4 pg, and Tymu Chenery, who scored 9.7 ppg. They are joined in the backcourt by Luis Kortright, who averaged 10.3 ppg off the bench.

“We have a chance to win,” Marfo said. “All the right pieces are there. I’m just excited to be part of the program again.”

–Field Level Media

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