Ivan Bender was one of the biggest surprises during the offseason for Maryland.
However, it was announced on Thursday that Bender has a fractured wrist and will be out indefinitely. Bender suffered the injury in the team’s scrimmage against Wake Forest in Richmond last weekend.
With Bender on the shelf, it’s going to be interesting to see how coach Mark Turgeon hands out the minutes in the frontcourt. After all, it’s the area where the Terrapins have the most question marks.
During the 2015-16 season, the frontcourt was a very big strength with star freshman Diamond Stone and Robert Carter in the fold. However, both pursued their dreams of playing professional basketball and are now gone.
It’s a pretty good bet that senior Damonte Dodd will be the team’s starting center.
Dodd has been a reserve through a good amount of his Maryland career. While mainly known as a rim protector, the Eastern Shore native did step up his game offensively last season, especially during nonconference play.
He ended up shooting the best percentage (63.1) out of any of Maryland’s rotation players. Dodd has definitely gotten more comfortable around the rim and that’s a huge bonus for the Terps.
With Jake Layman gone, freshman Justin Jackson looks to step into that role this coming season. He has a similar build and has the ability to play the three and also be a stretch four.
The former UNLV commit was one of the most heralded small forwards in the 2016 class. Jackson is an extremely athletic wing that can really do it all on the court.
Jackson could move up to the four when Turgeon uses Jared Nickens, who is a natural fit at small forward. Combine that with Melo Trimble and that’s a ton of athleticism that will be on the floor at the same time.
Another newcomer that could be a huge help is L.G. Gill.
Gill came to College Park as a graduate transfer from Duquesne. Much like Jackson, Gill is very athletic and he can crash the boards from the best of them.
With Maryland likely rolling with a smaller lineup at times, Gill’s ability to rebound is really going to be a huge bonus. He also possesses the ability to stretch the floor as he can shoot the jumper at a decent rate.
Gill could be a candidate to come off the bench, but that’ll all depend on how much Turgeon likes Jackson early in the season.
The final piece that could make an impact is junior forward Michal Cekovsky.
Cekovsky has been one of Maryland’s key reserve big men over the past two seasons. While the numbers may not support that fact, he’s been someone that Turgeon can count on.
He’s currently recovering from a hamstring injury that he suffered on Aug. 29. However, once he’s back to 100 percent, he could really help fill the void of Bender.
Cekovsky definitely has the ability to score in close when he gets the ball. He’s athletic enough to elevate for an alley oop, which he’s done several times during his Maryland career.
His main strength is his rebounding ability, but he’s also a very strong defender due to his size.
While the loss of Bender isn’t ideal, it’s definitely not a death sentence if he misses a large chunk of nonconference play.
Aside from Jackson, Cekovsky, Dodd, and Gill have a ton of experience at the collegiate level. Dodd and Gill have started in the past.
If Turgeon feels that Jackson is ready to play big-time minutes, Jackson could see time at the stretch four. Jackson may be the biggest x-factor on this roster.
It’s certainly not something that you hope for, but the Terps definitely have the depth to soften the blow of the loss of Bender.