Preview: Maryland Basketball Returns to Action vs. Western Carolina

Western Carolina (0-1) at Maryland (1-0)

When: Thursday, Nov. 10 | 7:00 p.m. ET

Where: XFINITY Center

Maryland will look to maintain its winning ways on Thursday night when they host Western Carolina for the first time since 2005, a night when Travis Garrison’s career-high 23 points and 14 rebounds pushed the Terps to a 30-point victory.

Following Monday’s win, Tuesday served as a recovery and scout day as the team returned to practice on Wednesday. The Catamounts are coming off an 11-21 overall record and a last-place finish in the Southern Conference last season. Western Carolina fell in Monday night’s loss at Georgia, 68-55, while redshirt junior Russell Jones registered five steals and Iowa State transfer Tre Jackson dropped a team-high 17 points.

Meanwhile, Maryland head coach Kevin Willard and the Terps walked away with a 22-point win on Monday night in Willard’s debut as head coach. Donta Scott led the way with 18 points on 4-of-5 three-point shooting while Jahmir Young finished in double figures in his Terrapin debut. Willard admitted he’s looking to iron out his second rotation following Monday’s win but delves into the areas of growth after watching the tape.

“I thought we picked up a lot of things. I thought our press was okay. I think the biggest thing is that we didn’t play very good and we kind of were in control for most of the game,” Willard told media on Wednesday. “I never felt like we were gonna lose the game. So, I think for the first game, having that feeling and watching them and going back and watching film, seeing how much better we can get. But I was happy with most of the day with the tempo, I thought we were pretty good. Tempo-wise, we can get better. There’s a lot of guys that, you know, hadn’t played a ton last year. Jahari [Long] was a redshirt last year. Juju was technically a freshman this year, so a lot of young guys that hadn’t played, I thought did a pretty good job.”

Donta Scott wasn’t the only one that stuck out on Monday night as junior guard Ian Martinez tallied a career-high five steals. “He’s gonna develop into a very talented scorer, but I think right now he plays with tremendous energy and a lot of toughness, and he knows he’s an athletic kid, so it’s very rare that, you know, sometimes it takes time for guys to understand their role. I think Ian knows right now, he’s our best defender. He’s going to guard the best guy most nights and I think he takes a lot of pride in that.”

Jahari Long, Martinez’s teammate in the second rotation, will get a chance to showcase himself further after missing the bulk of last season due to injury. Long finished with five points, six assists and one steal in the season opener as Willard noted “he’s still trying to figure it out a little bit.”

“He wants to prove to people that he can play at this level, and he’s progressing exactly the way I was hoping he would.”

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