With the three recent departures from the basketball team, the future of Maryland basketball took and immediate hit, that will pay dividends in the long run. Personally I don’t know what to think of next season, but without Terrell Stoglin and his scoring, the path back to the NCAA Tournament will be a little more difficult. Yet, I still expect it to be an exciting season that will lead to a lot of hope for a very successful future.
There is no way to deny it. Terrell Stoglin was a scorer. He wasn’t always the most complete player or team player, but at times, he was option 1, 2, and 3. It is hard to blame him, but at times it just wasn’t the way you like to see your basketball. Part of my homer mind liked to think that with some additional help around him he was going to play better team basketball. If that wasn’t the case, Mark Turgeon was going to have a complete team and some options to plant him on the bench if he didn’t. One way or the other, he was going to conform, or be on the bench.
So while the immediate future took a hit, we now shift our focus to what the Terps will have. I think everyone really took a liking to Nick Faust’s game as the season progressed. His jumper wasn’t a think of beauty, but he found a way to score. He defended from day 1, played out of position with out any complaints, and really improved as the season wore on. With Stoglin’s departure and the graduation of Sean Mosley, time at the 2 guard opened up and you have to think Faust will log the bulk of the minutes there.
Sean Mosley had anchored the 3 for the past four years. Originally I thought Faust was going to be an excellent 3. He could slash, score in the lane, or get all the way to the rim. But with his move to the off guard, it looks like Jake Layman is the likely candidate at the small forward. Layman also has the ability to get to the rim and also, hit some outside shots. Faust is in the middle of smoothing out his shot, so I don’t know how reliable his outside shooting will become, but it appears Layman will be able to hit his shots with some regularity. Sure he is a freshman, but if the Terps are going to threaten to get into the NCAA field, some freshman are going to have to step up, why not Layman?
Finally, on to the big men. I am really excited about the front court. I think an entire off season, and then an entire season is going to allow Alex Len to really get into the flow. We saw a glimpse of what he could do at time, and at others, it was hard to believe someone so big and athletic could be such a nonfactor. I truly believe he is going make a difference this year. James Padgett will likely start alongside Len. Some people have never really warmed up to Padgett. He is not going to dominate a game, but if he improves on his defensive rebounding this season, he is going to be an integral part of the team. He has some post moves (that usually don’t include a kickout), can hit the offensive glass, and has been around the block. He is what he is. Not a star, but someone who is going to help Alex Len inside.
Here is where the things start to get exciting for me. The addition of the freshman truly is the start of the Mark Turgeon era. I hate to get too hyped up since the players have yet play a minute, but the previews certainly leave hope for the future. If not the immediate future, two or three years down the road. With Shaq Cleare, Charles Mitchell, Seth Allen, and Sam Cassell Jr. in this year, and Michigan transfer Evan Smotrycz already on board for next season there appears to be some quality players and depth. If Pe’Shon Howard can get healthy and really focus on running the team, it will make it a lot easier to ease Allen, or Cassell Jr. into a backup role.
And if the influx of youth doesn’t excite you enough, there is still that (probably small) chance that the Harrison Twins could choose to play for Maryland. I wish I had this kind of excitement surrounding Randy Edsall and the football team, but they are at the total opposite end of the spectrum. I am so apathetic about the team right now, I don’t really know one thing that happened during the spring season. Hopefully as the season approaches, I will get that feeling back, but I truly don’t have a warm and fuzzy feeling about the team. Basketball on the other hand makes me want to fast forward right through the summer, and past the football season right into that game with Kentucky. I for one am all in for basketball right now and the future.