Monday, October 13, 2014

Big Ten Basketball Preview: #9 Maryland Terrapins

Welcome to the league, Maryland.  Sorry all your players are leaving.  Ok not all, and there's still talent here, but five of the team's eight top scorers transferred out - not graduated, but transferred which is pretty weird.  They still retained scorers #1, #3, and #4 and bring in a nice recruiting class so they won't be at the bottom of the conference, but I don't really see them finishing in the upper division either.

The leading returnee is senior wing Dez Wells, who averaged 14.9 points per game last season.  He's a pretty rare combo of both efficient (top 200ish true shooting percentage each of the last two seasons) and high usage (25% of possessions each of those seasons).  Wells should be in line for post-season All Big 10 hardware, and will likely also cause the most "who the hell is this guy" reactions among the Williams Arena faithful.  Among those who know, you may see a "no means no" sign or something similar considering he was booted from Xavier due to what look like false allegations, but visiting fans aren't much interested in truth so you know.

Along with Wells the Terps get a couple of long-range bombers back in wings Jake Layman (6-8) and Evan Smotrycz (6-9, and yes the same one who used to be at Michigan) who each hit more than 50 three pointers last year, both at a 37% clip.  They should help ease the loss of those other five guys seeing as how they can supply both perimeter scoring and size/rebounding (5.0 and 6.0 per game last year).  Neither is completely reliant on the three either, so they can help provide inside scoring as well.  If you were going to keep just three guys off last year's Maryland squad, these would probably be your three best choices.

Which is good, because they're basically going to have to rely on freshmen beyond Wells, Layman, and Smotrycz.  The key to the season may be point guard Romelo Trimble, ESPN's #29 incoming freshman this year, who, because of the defections, will basically be handed the ball and the starting job.  He plays both guard spots but thrived after moving to point guard, even snagging a position as a McDonald's All-American.  Fellow freshman Dion Wiley (#52) will provide depth and join Layman and Smotrycz as another light 'em up jump shooter.

Normally losing what Maryland lost would be recipe for disaster and obviously they'd be a better team if everybody stuck around, but Maryland has enough staying and enough incoming to at least challenge for an NCAA Tournament bid.  Maryland hasn't been the Maryland of the past, not having made an NCAA Tournament since 2010 - not once in Mark Turgeon's three years.  He's going to need to find a way to have this team take a step forward this season or he could find himself in trouble.


1 comment:

Loretta8 said...

Evan Smotrycz is still in college? Holy shit.