It’ll almost be ’12 when Maryland’s 7-footer finally plays

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Maryland finally got the good word on 7-foot-1 center Alex Len. Now comes the hard part – waiting for him to take the court.

The NCAA cleared the Ukrainian center to practice, but he must miss the Terps’ first 10 games. That means his first action will be Dec. 28 against Albany. He’s still a bit of an unknown prospect on a national level, but Maryland coaches have seen enough of his skills to know they need him on the court.

“Alex has been working very hard to prepare himself for this opportunity,” coach Mark Turgeon said in a release. “We look forward to having him on the court and to see how he’ll fit into what we want to do offensively and defensively.”

Len’s clearance gives Maryland nine scholarship players, but only eight are healthy.

Guard Pe’Shon Howard may miss as much as three months due to a broken toe, which makes Turgeon’s first year in College Park even more difficult. Can the Terps survive their non-conference schedule? Will the team struggle with chemistry and its rotation when Len and Howard are available?

Maybe it’s one of those seasons where most wins should come as a relief. Beating Duke or North Carolina would be fabulous. But an NCAA tournament berth? That’s probably a bit too much to ask.

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