Seawolves aren't like Terps' other early opponents
Of the 10 nonconference teams invited to Comcast Center to play the Maryland basketball team this season, one currently has a winning record.
That rare nonconference home challenge comes Friday night in the form of Stony Brook (8-2) of the America East Conference. The Seawolves, coming off a 22-win season, own a double-digit RPI, better than seven of the 12 teams in the ACC.
After losing 13 straight games to BCS conference schools, it's questionable whether Stony Brook can make Maryland (9-1) sweat. But at least there is reason to believe the Terrapins will have to do a little more than show up as they shake off the rust of an eight-day layoff.
|Stony Brook at Maryland|
|When » Friday, 8 p.m.|
|Where » Comcast Center|
|Radio » ESPN 980|
"The good thing for us is we're playing a good team," Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said. "People that don't follow college basketball might not know how good Stony Brook is. But we do. Our coaches do. Our players do. I don't know how well we're gonna play, but I expect us to be really focused on who we're playing tomorrow night."
The 10 teams on the Terps' home schedule before its ACC opener have a combined record of 45-67, winning one of 23 games against BCS conference schools. Playing overmatched teams such as Maryland Eastern Shore (0-10) and South Carolina State (4-8) has helped Maryland roll up impressive numbers. The Terps rank fourth in the nation in assists (18.8 per game) and rebounds (45.4 pg) and second in field goal defense (33.8 percent). The lack of competition, however, has left the Terps craving a challenge.
"We're very anxious. We think we're ready," sophomore Nick Faust said last week. "We're not looking past these teams, but I think we really want to get after it. Guys are really ready for it."
Final exams are completed, and the Terps have been out of their regular routine. But the time off hasn't been uneventful as Turgeon revealed Thursday that junior reserve John Auslander broke his tibia and is lost for the season.
Stony Brook has been boosted by 6-foot-8 freshman Jameel Warney (11.9 ppg, 7.9 rpg), and its top scorer is 6-foot junior Anthony Jackson (13.2?ppg). But the "piece that makes them go," according to Turgeon, is versatile 6-5, 225-pound senior Tommy Brenton (7.7 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 4.8 apg), last year's America East defensive player of the year. The last time Brenton played at Comcast Center, he led River Hill to the 2007 Maryland 3A state championship.
"He's the most the complete player they have," Turgeon said. "He's a tough matchup for us."
Thursday was one of the few times this year headed into a home game that Turgeon was asked any questions about the visiting team. The Seawolves have won four straight, avenging their first loss with a victory at Sacred Heart. Their only other defeat came when Connecticut hit its last eight 3-point attempts to overcome a seven-point deficit in the second half.
Stony Brook's impressive resume has the attention of Maryland point guard Pe'Shon Howard.
"They've been real competitive in their games," Howard said. "We're really excited just to have another challenge and get a chance to prove to ourselves and prove to coach that we're getting better. I think he's really worried about this game. He knows how good this team is."