On Friday’s edition of “The Reality Check”, Ryan Chell and I decided to put together a Maryland Terrapins season ending report card. After the Terps’ loss to North Carolina in the ACC Tournament, it was easy to assume the basketball season was over in College Park.
That assumption proved accurate Sunday night, as the NIT failed to extend an invite to the Terps as expected. The University of Maryland declined to participate in the lesser known postseason CBI Tournament due to the financial model that forces schools to pay for participation. (Three schools from BCS conferences-Washington State, Pitt and Oregon State all accepted CBI bids.)
It’s a long winded way to say the season is over. The Terps finished 17-15 in Mark Turgeon’s first season since taking over for the retired Gary Williams, surpassing the expectations of many while still falling short of the expectations of others.
In our Report Card segment Friday, I graded Turgeon’s job in year one as a “B”. I noted the lack of both quality and quantity in Maryland basketball players that Turgeon was forced to deal with partly due to the late timing of Williams’ retirement announcement. Not only did Maryland lose All-ACC Center Jordan Williams to the NBA, they also lost F Haukur Palsson to a pro turn in Europe. Turgeon was only able to retain one from Williams’ three-man recruiting class (G Nick Faust) although he made up for that in part with a late commitment from C Alex Len.
(I point all of this out because some Maryland fans have decided to “blame” Gary Williams for the state of the program. They’re only telling half of the story.)
Len’s 10 game suspension to start the season and PG Pe’Shon Howard’s 18 missed games due to injury made an already difficult situation nearly impossible. Entering the season, there was legitimate reason to fear a “bottoming out” of sorts for the Maryland program.
While those fears never came to fruition, the team never fully came together. Sophomore G Terrell Stoglin at times carried the Terps during a 6-10 Atlantic Coast Conference campaign, but often proved to be as much of the problem as the solution. Len never showed progress during his freshman campaign, Senior G Sean Mosley offered valuable leadership but never overwhelmed with his play on the floor. The only player that showed marked progress was Faust, who was named to the league’s All-Rookie team.
All of these were contributing factors in grading the job Turgeon did this season. It was a tough campaign, but it could have been significantly worse. Turgeon deserves credit for keeping the program afloat and avoiding any true embarrassment. (Only a late season loss at Georgia Tech stands out as a head shaker due to the opponent and Maryland’s most lopsided defeats came at the hands of NCAA Tournament participants like UNC, Duke, Virginia, Florida State, Alabama and Iona.)
Nearly five hundred words in, it’s time to look to the future. While Turgeon is absolutely deserving of praise for how he kept this Maryland team together in his first season, the coach offered a noteworthy thought Sunday night via Twitter.