Thursday, December 29, 2011

season preview: Maryland

Maryland Terrapins

Media prediction: 9th

Last season:

Record: 19-14 (7-9) - ACC 7th seed
Postseason: none
KenPom: 36th of 345

Returning scoring: 38.7%
Returning rebounding: 25.5%
Returning assists: 53.0%

2010-11 All-ACC:

1st team: F Jordan Williams
2nd team: none
3rd team: none
HM: none
Rookie: G Terrell Stoglin
Defensive: none

(Italics indicate departed player.)

Starting lineup:

PG: Nick Faust (Fr.)
SG: Terrell Stoglin (So.)
G: Sean Mosley (Sr.)
F: James Padgett (Jr.)
F: Ashton Pankey (rFr.)


PG Pe'Shon Howard (So.)
G Mychal Parker (So.)
C Berend Weijs (Sr.)
F John Auslander (So.)
C Alex Len (Fr.)

Coach: Mark Turgeon (1st season)

ACC schedule:

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

The fortunes of two programs changed when Jordan Williams left for the NBA.  Finally reaching his last straw with Williams's departure, longtime coach Gary Williams decided he'd had about enough of the coaching profession, and retired shortly thereafter, causing Maryland to undergo an awkwardly-timed coaching search.  (And of course, the coaching change prompted Justin Anderson to swap his commitment to UVA.)

Maryland did about as well in that coaching search as you'd expect, considering it was such an impromptu one, hiring Mark Turgeon away from Texas A&M.  It's been a rough start to the season, though.  Maryland got a win over Notre Dame, but hasn't beaten any of the other marquee teams on their schedule, not even the MAAC's likely eventual champion, Iona.  The Terps are 7-3, with their biggest margin of victory being nine, over the woeful UNC-Wilmington.  They have even narrower wins over equally woeful teams: six points over FGCU, three points over Mount St. Mary's, four points over FIU, five points over Radford.  None of these teams are currently in the top 200 in the KenPom ratings - the highest is 225th and the lowest, 314th.

However, we haven't seen the full-strength Terps just yet.  Nick Faust is ill-suited to the point guard position, but he was forced to play the one when Pe'Shon Howard started the season injured.  Howard returned against Radford, and didn't start but played 32 minutes.  And 7'1" freshman center Alex Len will make his debut in Maryland's next game (tonight), after serving a 10-game suspension for having signed a semi-pro contract in Europe prior to his Maryland commitment.

Howard's return will probably change Maryland quite a bit for the better as they get used to his presence in the lineup, as Faust has been absolutely horrendous so far.  His shooting has barely hit the mark and he's turned the ball over too much.  Going back to shooting guard will do him good.  Maryland has leaned far too heavily on the electric Terrell Stoglin.  Stoglin is averaging over 20 points a game, almost a third of Maryland's output by himself.  He should; he takes 37.2% of Maryland's shots when he's on the court (and he averages 33 minutes, so that's almost all the time) which is the 6th-highest total in the country.

There's little else to know.  Stoglin so dominates the offense that the rest of the team kind of fades into the background.  They're awfully generic.  And with the team having been incomplete in the first month of the year (in which the Terps did not look good at all) it's hard to say how the pieces will mesh in the ACC season.  My guess is that Howard will improve the efficiency of the offense and take a little scoring load off of Stoglin.  Len is a mystery.  Without him, Maryland has had to play very small; the 6'10", 200-pound-skinny Berend Weijs is at the back end of the rotation and the rest of their forwards are just that - forwards.  Len offers the only hope for a true frontline center, and not even Maryland followers know quite what to expect out of him.

So while Maryland will be a more dangerous team than the one that beat Mount St. Mary's by three, just how much more is up for debate.  I don't think it'll be a great amount.  There's just too much remodeling that had to be done.  If they could have brought back Jordan Williams they'd have at least been a bubble team; Williams was that talented.  But quite a few seniors left, too, and the upperclassmen that are left are role players, not statistical leaders.  With Duke, UNC, and UVA all on the schedule twice, look for Maryland to end up in the bottom half of the ACC this year.

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