This may end up being the most frustrating season in Mark Turgeon’s successful career. The Terps were expected to struggle this year due to Jordan Williams’ departure for the NBA and the lack of scholarship athletes on the squad. Gary Williams had a storied career as a head coach, but his recruiting was questionable and he certainly didn’t leave much for Mark Turgeon.
Turgeon has taken over a team with far less talent than last year’s squad that didn’t even make the NIT. Amazingly, the Terps have actually competed well in the ACC and have played nationally ranked opponents tough before faltering down the stretch, a common symptom for a young team with a lack of depth and talent. The Terps generally have a nine player rotation that consists of six freshman and sophomores. Seniors Sean Mosley, Berend Weijs, and Junior James Padgett are the only upper classmen who see the floor, all of which are role players at best. As if youth and inexperience weren’t enough, the Terps are now without a true point guard due to the torn ACL of sophomore point guard Pe’Shon Howard. A top ranked team like Duke will always expose the many weaknesses of of a team with that many holes. And they did.
Rebounding has been a major disappointment and yesterday was no different. Alex Len has some potential, but is incredibly weak, especially when he gets his hands on the ball. James Padgett, Ashton Pankey, Sean Mosley, and Alex Len all had the ball taken out of their hands yesterday. I guess they went to the Lee Evans School for ball security. The good news is that Pankey and Len are both freshman who can improve. They have to get much stronger, tougher, and even a little nasty in the paint. Right now they are far too soft. The Plumee Brothers nearly out rebounded the entire Terps squad yesterday with 32 rebounds(Terps had 33). Miles Plumlee had 22 rebounds, the most ever under Coach K. Duke had 21 offensive rebounds to Maryland’s 7. That means that Duke got 14 extra possessions which is a recipe for disaster. The Terps got bullied by a far more physical team yesterday.
This team continues to struggle shooting the ball. If Stoglin has an off day, there is nobody else on the team that can shoot the ball. The team was 1-14 from beyond the arc. The only three pointer came from Freshman Nick Faust who was shooting under 20% for the year. I understand the need to have really good athletes on your team, but can the Terps PLEASE get somebody who can shoot the ball! Had Turgeon’s squad grabbed just two more rebounds and shot just 30% from three point land, they win on the road at Duke Saturday. I know it sounds crazy, but to win basketball games, a team has to put the ball through the basket. Considering you aren’t going to dunk the ball forty times a game, you have to have guys who can knock down an occasional jumper. The good teams can shoot.
Speaking of Stoglin, he really needs to learn the importance of game management. Maryland had cut the lead to four with just over eight minutes to go only to have Stoglin quickly force another shot. Too many times he forces his shot with a ton of time left on the shot clock. He really doesn’t seem to understand the whole “situation and the clock” scenario. He needs to learn a different speed because you can’t play at 100 miles an hour all the time. Stoglin is a great talent, but he needs to be a better teammate and a better game manager. Once he stops forcing his shots, decreases his turnovers and increases his assists, he will be a star. I know he didn’t like being on the bench Saturday, but he was hurting the team with his decision making and poor shooting. He was 4-16 including 0-6 from beyond the arc with 2 turnovers. He deserved to be benched. And note to Terrel: stay off Twitter for awhile.
I also question how good Nick Faust can be? I know he had a career high yesterday, but he also added 4 turnovers to lead the team. He is a ridiculous athlete that can cause some match-up problems on the wing. But, he can’t shoot. Good shooters have good form and good rotation. Faust has neither. He has thrown up some of the ugliest shots you will ever see this year. If Nick Faust wants to be the player Maryland recruited him to be, he needs to really work hard to develop a consistent jumper. If he can do that, and limit his turnovers and charges, Faust will find himself part of a pretty special Terp squad over the next 3 years.
The good news for Terp nation is that help is on the way. They will get some serious help in the paint next year with the addition of Shaquille Cleare who will add 270 pounds of beef in the paint. They also add some shooters with 6 foot 8 small forward Jake Layman who is said to be athletic and sport a “feathery” three point jumper. Shooting guard Seth Allen will be bringing his scoring ability and deadly three point jumper to college park next year as well. Mark Turgeon still has three more scholarships at his disposal if he decides to add to his top 20 recruiting class. Although a bit of a long shot, five star athlete Amile Jefferson is still considering the Terps. If Turgeon and Delonte West can somehow convince Jefferson to travel to college park instead of Duke, UConn and Kentucky, Maryland may have the best recruiting class in the country. Either way, Mark Turgeon should have a young talented team next year. The arrow is pointing up and Maryland fans should be excited about the future.