Freshman breaks bone in left hand in practice

Early this year, Maryland coach Mark Turgeon joked in his typical glass-half-empty way that injuries only happen when you can least afford them. Sure enough, in a season in which he has used 10 players in his rotation, the Terrapins have remained injury free.

But when Maryland (24-12) travels to Alabama (23-12) on Tuesday night for the NIT quarterfinals, the Terps finally will be without one of their key pieces. Freshman guard Seth Allen, who broke a bone in his left (shooting) hand in practice Sunday, likely is done for the season.

Allen, who is averaging 7.8 points, 2.3 assists and 1.0 steals, is the quickest player on the team and had played well recently, proving especially effective when the Terps used fullcourt pressure. In five postseason games, Allen had collected 54 points, 15 rebounds, 14 assists and seven steals with just six turnovers.

NIT quarterfinals
Maryland at Alabama
When » Tuesday, 7 p.m.
Where » Coleman Coliseum,
Tuscaloosa, Ala.

"I feel bad for Seth because he's really been playing well," Turgeon told reporters Monday before the team departed for Alabama. "And it's a big blow to us because of the way he's been playing."

The injury is nothing new for Allen, who suffered a broken arm and shattered elbow in a bicycle mishap six years ago and a broken left hand last season at Fredericksburg Christian.

With five rotation players available for three perimeter positions, Maryland still has plenty in reserve. The Terps, however, will be much less equipped to use the five-guard lineup they thrived with in the last 10 minutes of Thursday's come-from-behind 62-52 victory over Denver.

"We can still play a small lineup but maybe not as much," Turgeon said.

It's been a remarkably injury-free season for the Terps. In December, junior forward John Auslander was lost for the season with a broken tibia. But none of the Terps' 10 rotation players has missed time with an injury. The only player to miss a game for health reasons was junior guard Pe'Shon Howard, who stayed home with the flu as the Terps traveled to Florida State.

On Tuesday night, Maryland looks to its pared-down lineup to deliver a trip to Madison Square Garden for the NIT semifinals. If the Terps advance, they would play No. 1 Virginia (23-12) for the third time this year or No. 3 Iowa (23-12). The teams play Wednesday night in Charlottesville.

This will be the fifth meeting ever between Maryland and Alabama. The Crimson Tide got their only win in the series last year in Turgeon's second game as coach of the Terps. In the 62-42 verdict in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, the Crimson Tide manhandled the Terps, outrebounding them 47-29.

The teams have changed drastically since then. While Maryland has added inside presence in freshmen Shaquille Cleare and Charles Mitchell and sophomore Alex Len, who was not eligible last year until late December, Alabama no longer has rugged forward Tony Mitchell, the leading scorer (17 points) and rebounder (11) in last year's game, who was dismissed last year.

The top three scorers for backcourt-oriented Alabama are all guards -- 6-foot junior Trevor Releford (15.1 ppg), 6-3 sophomore Trevor Lacey (11.5 ppg) and 6-6 sophomore Rodney Cooper (10.1 ppg, 4.5 rpg).