Maryland Basketball: Stone suspension provides learning experience

Dec 27, 2015; College Park, MD, USA; Maryland Terrapins center Diamond Stone (33) looks on in the first half against the Marshall Thundering Herd at Xfinity Center. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 27, 2015; College Park, MD, USA; Maryland Terrapins center Diamond Stone (33) looks on in the first half against the Marshall Thundering Herd at Xfinity Center. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports /

The Maryland basketball team certainly didn’t take Diamond Stone‘s actions against Wisconsin this past weekend lightly.

The Terrapins center was suspended for Thursday’s game against Minnesota and it could provide a learning experience on multiple levels.

In case you missed it, Stone shoved Wisconsin forward Vitto Brown‘s head into the floor following a scrum during the first half of Saturday’s loss. Despite the severity of his actions, the Maryland center was simply assessed flagrant foul as was Wisconsin’s Charlie Thomas, who defended Brown by shoving Stone after the incident.

Coach Mark Turgeon did sit Stone for the early portion of the second half, but Stone did finish with 10 points and four blocks.

First of all, this is definitely a teaching moment for Turgeon when it comes to Stone. Stone will attempt to learn from this poor show of sportsmanship and hopefully keep his head on straight if something like this happens in the future.

From a different perspective, the suspension comes at a decent time.

Maryland will travel to Minnesota on Thursday. The Golden Gophers only possess one player that is taller than 6’9 (Bakary Konate).

During Saturday’s game against the Badgers, the issue of rebounding was brought to the forefront once again. Forward Michal Cekovsky and center Damonte Dodd combined for just one rebound in 12 combined minutes.

While forward Robert Carter and Stone are clearly Maryland’s key cogs on the interior, Cekovsky and Dodd still have the talent to be very productive. Unfortunately, Cekovsky and Dodd haven’t had many games where they aided in Maryland’s production in the rebounding or scoring department.

When he’s on top of his game, Dodd is certainly capable of being very productive for Maryland.

For example, when Dodd drew the start against Wisconsin in the first meeting in Jan., the Centreville (Md.) native was extremely aggressive and really came to play. On Maryland’s first offensive possession in that game, the Terps attempted to pound it inside early on as Carter hoisted up a hook shot.

The shot didn’t even graze the rim, but Dodd got in tremendous rebounding position and boxed out Vitto Brown. Dodd was able to take the ball back up strong and draw the foul.

Later in the first half, Dodd benefited from the supreme passing skills of Melo Trimble. Trimble drew three Badger defenders towards him as he attacked the rim. At the last possible second, Trimble dropped off a beautiful pass to Dodd, who was in a great position to score.

Dodd was fouled by Zak Showalter, but still managed bank his shot home.

Dodd also has a decent jump shot when he has the space to work with. With 3:20 to go in the first half, guard Rasheed Sulaimon drove towards the basket before dishing it off to Dodd, who splashed home an open jumper.

On the other hand, Cekovsky also possesses the ability to impact the game in several ways.

In Maryland’s recent game against Bowie State, Cekovsky saw extended minutes for the Terps. The Slovakian native got involved early and his teammates weren’t afraid to rely on him.

Cekovsky scored his first four points from the free throw line. On both occasions in which he got to the line, he immediately attacked the rim and took the basketball up strong. Even though he is only shooting 55.9 percent from charity stripe on the season, Cekovsky stayed poised and knocks down his freebies.

With 12:29 remaining in the first half, Trimble was bringing the ball up the floor when he spotted Cekovsky around the rim. He then lobbed a sensational alley oop up to Cekovsky, who slammed it home for two points.

On the ensuing possession for Maryland, Cekovsky benefited from a tremendous pass from Dodd. Dodd found a cutting Cekovsky on the baseline for the easy slam.

It’s really a matter of putting yourself in the right positions to make plays and Cekovsky definitely is capable of doing that. Cekovsky does have a well-rounded offensive game and definitely has the ability to be an impact player off the bench for the Terps.

With Stone absent, the likely starters will be Carter and Dodd down low. However, Cekovsky will definitely see his fair share of minutes against Minnesota.

Next: Tournament resume in good shape

If Cekovsky and Dodd are aggressive from the opening tip, there’s no reason why they can’t be extremely productive against the Golden Gophers and beyond.