It’s that time of the year again college basketball is back! This year looks to be a exciting one with big time freshmen coming such as the likes of Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker. Then you add in Kentucky who already had a solid looking young team and now they add possibly the best recruiting class of all time in college basketball signing 6 of the top 20 recruits in the nation last year. After losing in the NIT last year to Robert Morris they will look to get back not only into the the big dance, but also championship as they come into the season number one in the nation. They are not the only ones looking to get back into the NCAA tournament. The Maryland Terrapins have not been to the tournament since the Gary Williams days which seem like decades ago. The last time Maryland went was in 2010, the year they also won the ACC championship with Gary Williams receiving ACC Coach of the Year.
After a very disappointing season last year the Terps will be looking to rebound (No pun intended). This was a team last year that was good enough to make it to the big dance, but a combination of insufficient guard play and in my opinion horrible coaching by Mark Turgeon left this team on the outside looking in. Other then losing Alex Len to the NBA they are returning a plethora of talent especially on the perimeter. It does not get much better than Dez Wells, Nick Faust, and Seth Allen (although injured he will come in time for the majority of the season). They are all solid defenders, they can and will be relied on as scorers, and they are all electric with space. With freshmen and sophomores playing big minutes last year this team has grown a lot and with the additions of 4 star recruit Roddy Peters, Demonte Dodd, and transfer Evan Smotcyz this team has a lot of depth and a solid 8 man rotation. The breakout player this year will be Jake Layman. He looks a lot more confident in his shot and runs the floor very well. Defensively he needs some work but with his great length it does leave him a little room for error. One thing he did do very well last year was anticipate on the defensive end as he forced a lot of steals by paying attention to the guy with the ball and making a break on lazy passes. Look for more of that this year. Down low maybe a work in progress. Shaq Cleare is solid on the defensive end, but almost a no show offensively last year as well as in the loss to Conneticut in Maryland’s first game this year. The good news is that Charles Mitchell looked very good offensively last year and against the Huskies. The bad news about him is that he does not look to have lost a lot of weight which he will pay for when Maryland plays better competition against faster players. This is not to say he will be terrible, rather if he could have lost maybe just 15 more pounds think of how much better he could be. It would equal more minutes and even better quality of play from him. Turnovers may be a problem and most likely the achillies heal for this team as Peters is only a freshmen who sometimes can look like Steve Nash but I also anticipate having many bad freshmen moments. Turnovers were a big problem last year especially for Dez Wells and Seth Allen. At times last year Seth Allen didn’t seem to want to give the ball up and would hold for up to 15-20 seconds at a time which cannot happen. There are too many scoring threats and Seth Allen and all the points guards cannot afford to keep the ball out of their hands. Distribution and turnovers as well as scoring droughts are the two big problems I see for the Terps this year. Getting off to a good start will lasso be key as Maryland has not done that well in the very early stages of this year.
Bottom Line: There are more growing pains to come as this is still a young team and although I do not like Mark Turgeon he does have a lot of fire in him and Maryland’s defense will be solid with offense improving from last season. With this in mind I see the Terps, overall, improving this year finishing the regular season with about 21 wins and barely squeaking into the NCAA tournament. Let’s go Terps!