By: Brett Dickinson and Barry Kamen
BK: Brett, the Maryland men’s basketball program headline this week’s Banter with the news that three players have been granted releases from their scholarships. Freshman guard Roddy Peters, junior guard Nick Faust, and sophomore center Shaquille Cleare will all be leaving the program after a disappointing 17-15 season that ended without a postseason tournament berth. Despite the lack of success, all three of these players have starting experience with the Terps. What kind of an impact will the Maryland men’s basketball team feel with the departure of these three players?
BD: Barry, this team should be significantly different than the past couple seasons. Though there was supposed to be a change in the atmosphere, after Maryland head coach Maryland Turgeon was able to recruit guards Nick Faust, Seth Allen, Roddy Peters and Dez Wells, along with forwards Jake Layman, Charles Mitchell and Shaq Cleare. But it clearly has not worked out the way everyone in College Park had hoped.
So it was time for a major change, as the entire roster has shown a lack of development over the past couple seasons. Faust and Cleare did not show enough effort on the court or understanding on how to simply play team basketball. Being able to essentially “release” them from the roster clears scholarship room to bring in the top 10 recruiting class that will play in the Comcast Center next year. Peters departure was the most interesting though, as he was the team’s prize possession of last off season. There was probably an understanding that with the highly touted incoming freshman point guard Melo Trimble on his way, Peters role would have been limited to coming off the bench.
As a whole this roster should be more complete, with a solid mix of upper class-man that have an understanding of coaching staff and talented freshman that can change the dynamic on both sides of the ball. It should be an improved on-court output, that will be much deeper, while finally playing a natural point guard (in Trimble) that Turgeon has depended on his entire coaching career to control the pace on the court.
But we have heard how some recruits would re-establish Maryland to prominence just a few years ago, from the same exact coaches. If the Terps struggle next season, how long will the leash be for Turgeon tenure in College Park?
BK: Despite the roster turnover, this next season is a make-or-break year for coach Turgeon. No one in the College Park area questions his ability to recruit; the development of those recruits has been the program’s glaring weakness. With Cleare gone, Turgeon will rely on incoming freshman Trayvon Reed and Michal Cekovsky to share minutes and provide a strong post presence in the Big Ten. The aforementioned Trimble will be the key to this team, but the play of wing players Dion Wiley and Jared Nickens will also be relied on following the departures of Faust and Peters.
So far, Maryland has regretted signing Turgeon to an eight-year contract that began in 2011. At the time, I liked the idea of adding stability to a program following the retirement of Gary Williams. The last thing the school needed was to bring a coach who found great success, and proceeded to take a bigger coaching job. Longevity at the head coaching position only matters when the team is winning, and so far, the Terps have not done enough of that. With the team making the transition over to the Big Ten, Turgeon will continue to have a hard time winning basketball games in a conference that boasts 3 schools (Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin) that made the Elite Eight last season. Despite the changes to the roster and the schedule, the Terps have to be better next season. The play of Turgeon’s five incoming freshmen will dictate his future with the program.