That’s the issue for the coach and the program moving forward. There will be little patience surrounding the program for Selection Sunday to be greeted with tumbleweeds on the Maryland campus. Turgeon will immediately see favor turn to expectations without there being any reason to necessarily assume a quick reversal of fortune.
Maryland will lose Mosley and F Berend Weijs to graduation this season, leaving seven scholarship players eligible to return. Stoglin has already hinted he could test the NBA Draft waters, but it is unlikely he’ll like what he finds in the progress. The undersized guard from Tucson is a tremendous set shooter but has not shown enough as a passer or defender to make him a legitimate prospect. The most probable scenario involves him eventually returning to school.
If Stoglin does return, his relationship with Turgeon will have to improve. The coach admitted that after his first interaction with Stoglin he feared he wouldn’t be able to coach the sharpshooter, and as recently as the team’s quarterfinal game in Atlanta spectators overheard Turgeon repeating his frustration for Stoglin’s unwillingness to be coached.
The return of Howard will be helpful, but the team’s only true point guard was far from flawless during the short stretch when he was actually on the floor. Howard regularly appeared more desirous to make a Derrick Rose-like dish that would end up on SportsCenter than the simple pass required to score points.
Faust made vast improvement from Game 1 to Game 32, showing himself to be one of the more exceptional defenders in the league and easing into the role of a capable scorer. Faust will need to continue development as an outside shooter to reach the level of a go-to scorer against conference competition.
The front court of the future is a great unknown for Maryland basketball. Incoming freshman C Shaquille Cleare is believed to be capable of contributing immediately, which could greatly alter the fate of the team in Turgeon’s second season. There are still high hopes for the seven foot Len moving forward, but rarely did he display any actual ability in his freshman campaign.
The greatest reason for hope in 2012-2013 is depth alone. Maryland’s front court also returns F James Padgett, who would be well served to have expectations lowered by a move to the bench. Incoming freshmen Charles Mitchell and Damonte Dodd could also provide help, and 6’8″ forward Jake Layman also joins the team-although he is believed to be more of a combo forward.
F Ashton Pankey also remains in the mix. His rocky relationship with Turgeon and lack of effort at times was evident down the stretch this season, but a transfer might not be in the plans as it would cost him a year of eligibility. (Pankey would have to give back his redshirt season after sitting out next year.)
The Terps also welcome incoming freshman PG Seth Allen to the program next season and bring back G Mychal Parker-who made minimal contributions this season. Turgeon appears interested in adding another guard to the recruiting class, the name Sam Cassell Jr. has been popular in recruiting circles. All told, the Terps are expected to have between 10 and 13 scholarship players next season, a vast improvement from the range of seven-nine they had available during Turgeon’s first year.
There’s reason to expect improvement, but there’s no guarantee this team can reach the lofty heights some fans will always have. That said, those expectations won’t go away. Future Selection Sundays will have to involve activity at Comcast Center for Turgeon to warrant further praise.
In the meantime, praise away. And go Loyola.