Thursday, December 26, 2013
season preview: Maryland
Media prediction: 7th of 15
Record: 25-13 (8-10); ACC 7th seed
Postseason: NIT 2 seed; lost in semifinals
KenPom: 48th of 347
Returning scoring: 63.5%
Returning rebounding: 59.5%
Returning assists: 63.5%
1st team: none
2nd team: none
3rd team: none
HM: C Alex Len
Rookie: C Alex Len
(Italics indicate departed player.)
PG: Roddy Peters (Fr.)
SG: Dez Wells (Jr.)
SF: Jake Layman (So.)
PF: Evan Smotrycz (rJr.)
C: Shaquille Cleare (So.)
G Nick Faust (Jr.)
F Charles Mitchell (So.)
F Jonathan Graham (Jr.)
G Varun Ram (Jr.)
Coach: Mark Turgeon (3rd season)
Twice: Florida State, Pittsburgh, Virginia, Virginia Tech
Once: Boston College, Clemson, Duke, Georgia Tech, Miami, North Carolina, NC State, Notre Dame, Syracuse, Wake Forest
Last season, Maryland was a bottom-of-the-bubble team that lacked anything close to resembling a signature win outside the conference; the best they could show the committee was an ACC tourney win over Duke (as well as home wins over the same and NC State.) Wasn't nearly enough. This year looks much the same, except, throw in some bad losses too.
Personnel losses have hit Maryland heavier than average. Alex Len is off to the NBA, glue forward James Padgett and sharpshooter Logan Aronhalt have graduated, point guard Pe'Shon Howard transferred to USC, and sophomore PG Seth Allen is out for a couple more weeks with a broken foot that's caused him to miss the first half of the season.
Maryland has had to try and make a go of it with freshman point guard Roddy Peters, since Nick Faust long ago proved himself not a point guard and Dez Wells isn't well-equipped to play the one either. It's been up and down; Peters has both an assist rate and a turnover rate in the mid-30s, high numbers both. The Terps also give a few minutes here and there to juco transfer Varun Ram, minutes which are more or less wildly unproductive.
It hasn't helped that Faust has been missing the target with his shots far too much, which has banished him to the bench. Wells is a quality scorer, but until Allen gets back, for now he's the only consistent threat in the backcourt. Where Maryland is dangerous is in their perimeter-oriented forwards. Jake Layman and Michigan transfer Evan Smotrycz both stand 6'8" but are outside sharpshooters and bring a scoring mentality to the court. Smotrycz's game at Michigan saw him drifting outside far too often, but he's been a more well-rounded player at Maryland with more rebounding chops.
Maryland also gets good contributions from Charles Mitchell and center Shaquille Cleare. Cleare is undersized for a center but is a passable shot blocker; his size (only 6'9") gets him beat on the boards fairly often, though. Mitchell isn't a primary scoring option but chips in often enough to open up the floor for the others. Cleare helps make Maryland a decent shot-blocking team; Layman and Wells get good numbers there as well since they're almost always taller than their assignment. Freshman forward Jonathan Graham only sees a few minutes a game, but he too is a blocker of shots; almost one per game despite averaging less than ten minutes.
Barring a miracle run in the ACC, the Terps have probably already blown their shot at a tourney bid. The NIT looks like a very likely destination. If the maxim is true about the ACC being a guards' league, they'll probably struggle some in conference play, too. But they've got plenty of frontcourt scoring, and some of those guys can fill it from anywhere, making them a very difficult matchup at times. Their 8-10 ACC record from last year is a solid starting point which they should be able to surpass by a game or two, and take a run at an NIT championship after getting to MSG last year.