Mark Turgeon's search for an ideal lineup has taken another turn --- the insertion of Shaquille Cleare into a starting slot.
"I think it's a good opportunity," Cleare said. "I'm not going to get too excited or get too above myself with it. I'm just going to go in there and do what coach Turgeon tells me to do. I'll do all the dirty work I always do just to get a W at the end of the game."
Cleare will make his second career start Sunday when the Terrapins (13-2, 1-1 ACC) visits Miami (11-3, 2-0), taking the place of fellow freshman Charles Mitchell. Sophomore Alex Len will pair with him in the frontcourt.
Beyond that, Turgeon said Nick Faust and Dez Wells will likely start as well, with either Seth Allen or Pe'Shon Howard getting the nod at the point.
"Shaq does everything I ask," Turgeon said. "I'm just tired of having him on the bench. I don't know after that. Nick --- Nick earned it. Hopefully, Dez will settle down and play the way Dez is capable of. And at the point, I'm not sure. Seth or Pe'Shon, depending on how they practice."
Cleare played only eight minutes in Wednesday's 65-62 loss to Florida State, his shortest stint since the Dec. 2 BB&T Classic game against George Mason.
At the same time, the 6-foot-9, 265-pounder has looked far more comfortable over the last month than he did earlier in the season.
In his only other start, Cleare scored a career-high 12 points against Maryland-Eastern Shore on Dec. 5. He is averaging 5.1 points, 3.3 rebounds and 14.4 minutes.
"We're playing a big team, too," Turgeon said. "Does that mean Shaq's going to play 30 minutes? Probably not. But I just want to do it and if that's our best lineup, that's our best lineup. I don't know what our best lineup is. I'm still trying to figure it out. I thought I knew what it was but Shaq's starting."
That decision means Len will move over to power forward. For the most part, Len and Cleare have split the time at the center spot this season.
The Terps have worked on using both Len and Cleare on the floor at the same time in practice of late. Now, Maryland will field its biggest frontcourt in the opening stages (and perhaps beyond) against Miami.
"It's going to be kind of scary," Cleare said. "I think it's going to be a great lineup."
--- Patrick Stevens