Twenty-four years ago, before many of his Maryland men’s basketball players were even born, an energetic recent graduate named Mark Turgeon began coaching the University of Kansas junior varsity team. The Jayhawks were small. So small, in fact, that their power forward stood 6 feet 2. Sometimes he played center.
That was the last time Turgeon ever inserted a five-guard lineup before Thursday night against Denver in the National Invitation Tournament second round.
Backed in to a corner by the Pioneers’ Princeton offense and facing an eight-point deficit midway through the second half, Maryland abandoned its substantial height advantage. Turgeon tossed his motion offense out the Comcast Center windows, calling upon his six guards and swingmen to just play basketball.
They spread four guards along the perimeter, with 6-5 sophomore Dez Wells playing the role of back-down center. Turgeon’s adjustment, initially made in desperation, allowed the Terrapins to squeak out a 62-52 victory over the Pioneers.