The future certainly looks bright in College Park. Despite a tough 17-15 season and six wins in the conference, the complexion of the roster was changed. Gone is Terrell Stoglin, which could be addition by subtraction. Stoglin was like a black hole in that if you passed the ball to him, you weren’t getting it back. He did lead the league in scoring, but his production will be replaced. Coach Mark Turgeon brought in a nice recruiting class that is widely regarded as among the best in the conference.
It will take more than one person to replace Stoglin’s production, but the ball distribution will be better. Who starts at point is going to be an interesting question. Pe’Shon Howard is the favorite, but he’s had trouble staying healthy. He only played in 14 games last year, missing the beginning of the season with a broken foot, and missing the end of the season with a torn ACL. Should he have issues, true freshman Seth Allen will take his place. He can score and pass pretty well. The one thing the Terps can count on is a big season from Nick Faust. He showed a lot of promise in his freshman season, and could flourish this season. Also of note is Albany transfer Logan Aronhalt. He’s a senior who can provide some scoring off of the bench.
Get to know Shaquille Cleare everybody. This is the future of the ACC at center. He’s 6-10, 285 pounds, and will do pretty much whatever he wants inside. He may not start right away, but you will see him on the court. He’ll be a threat on both sides of the court. Throw in Alex Len at 7-1, and you have lots of size in the Maryland frontcourt. Len had an okay season after missing the first 10 games. He got himself in to some foul trouble at times, and if he can cut down on that, has to the potential to be a NBA caliber player. Let’s not forget James Padgett either. He’s a pretty solid inside player, who can score some, and rebound. He was among the league leaders in offensive rebounds. Behind them, Charles Mitchell, a 250 pound bruiser who can rebound, and Jake Layman, a 6-8 forward with some range, will see some time too.
The Terps will get tested right away. They’ll play Kentucky in a non conference tournament to start the season. The only other games of note in the non conference are against Northwestern in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, and the BB&T Classic in which they will play George Mason. The conference schedule is tough right out of the gate. Of the first eight games, they will face a team that was ranked in the preseason polls in five of them. It will lighten up a bit after that, with Duke and UNC the only ranked teams in the final month of the season.
Despite the turnover from last season, Mark Turgeon has built up a pretty nice looking team. He has a lot of size in the front, and some guards who can shoot. The issue though is the youth of the roster. There are 10 freshmen and sophomores on the roster. This is one of the youngest teams in the ACC. It also has a lot more depth than roster, so some of the guys who were asked to play more than they probably should have shouldn’t have to play as much this year. I do like this team, but the lack of experience could hold them back this year. I think they’ll be in the middle to lower half of the conference this season.
Expect Alex Len to have a big season, just a week ago Turgeon indicated that outside of Alex Len, the other four starting spots are still to be decided. Len has the potential to dominate at both ends of the floor. Our projections are a bit conservative, I expect 10 pts, 9 rebs, 2 steals, 2 blocks per game from the 7 footer.