Wednesday, January 5, 2011

season preview: Maryland

Maryland Terrapins

Media prediction: 6th

Last season:

Record: 24-9 (13-3), 2nd in ACC
Postseason: NCAA 4 seed; lost in second round
KenPom: 11th of 347

Returning scoring: 47.4%
Returning rebounding: 63.2%
Returning assists: 33.5%

2009-'10 All-ACC:

1st team: G Greivis Vasquez
2nd team: none
3rd team: none
Rookie: F Jordan Williams
Defensive: none


PG: Adrian Bowie (Sr.)
SG: Sean Mosley (Jr.)
SF: Cliff Tucker (Sr.)
PF: Dino Gregory (Sr.)
C: Jordan Williams (So.)


G Terrell Stoglin (Fr.)
G Pe'Shon Howard (Fr.)
F James Padgett (So.)
C Berend Weijs (Jr.)
F Haukur Paulsson (Fr.)

Coach: Gary Williams (22nd season)


Once: Clemson (H), Florida State (H), Georgia Tech (A), Miami (A), North Carolina (A), NC State (H)
Twice: Boston College, Duke, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest

Maryland is a picture of ACC stability. Rarely at the top, never at the bottom, always a threat. It's in this line of thinking that the ACC media voted them 6th in the conference despite having to replace their top three scorers, including (thank God because he's the king of king douches) Greivis Vasquez. The media's probably right, too.

If anything, maybe the media underrated them a smidge. The first inkling that Maryland probably won't fall that far on the pecking order is that they've been immune to the tendency of ACC teams this year to suffer some form of humiliating loss. They've yet to record a signature win, either, but they were highly competitive in their games against real teams in the OOC and never came close to losing against the bad ones. That's what 20-odd years of coaching stability earns you.

The story of the this year's Maryland team is the group of players who've patiently waited their turn and are now getting it. The best of that bunch is Jordan Williams, a powerful true big man who stands 6'10" and is easily averaging a double-double on the year. Williams was named to last year's all-rookie team and is living up to the distinction as a sophomore. There aren't many players in the ACC who'll be able to handle him.

Williams helps make Maryland's frontcourt a major strength, but he's not alone. Dino Gregory is also an excellent rebounder, and Cliff Tucker can play all over the place. This was, not so long ago, a donut team with nothing in the middle and plenty of outside scoring; that's changed, as Maryland's strength is now clearly inside.

Not that the guards are bad. Adrian Bowie and Sean Mosley are quality veterans, though neither brings quite the scoring punch of sixth man Terrell Stoglin. Stoglin's just a freshman and playing his way into the lineup. Coaches like to have that kind of punch off the bench and a veteran presence in the starting lineup, so Stoglin probably will stay a sixth man all year, but he brings a dangerous shooting presence into the game.

Overall, it's basically what you'd expect out of a Gary Williams team in a "down year": not that down at all, actually. Williams is probably the only real star in the lineup, but nobody's a weak link, either. And they have the ability to run nine and even ten deep if they have to: there are backups for everybody and they can present the same look with different players. Maryland will probably need to pick up a signature win or two in ACC play in order to make the tournament - losing to Boston College at home was a bit of a setback - but nobody will find them an easy out, either. Chances are they'll finish with a winning record and hover in bubbleland for a while, but I think ultimately they're a tournament team, even if as a double-digit seed.

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