It's hard to fathom, but basketball season is upon us. It's the most wonderful time of the year.
Maryland tips off the season against UConn in Brooklyn this Friday. I think the game is a toss up. Surely, Maryland is going to be better than last year's team. Yes the Terps have lost a lottery pick but I think the Terps can improve without the presence of Alex Len.
The front line will be bolstered by Shaq Cleare and Chuck Mitchell gaining a year of invaluable experience and off season training. Damonte (Snoop Doddy) Dodd and Evan Smotrycz will supply much needed shot blocking (Dodd) and scoring (Smotrycz).
The loss of Seth Allen for 6-10 weeks hurts the back court. He was our starting PG. I think Dez Wells is up to the task with a few caveats. Wells wants (needs?) to showcase his PG skills if he is to make the leap to the next level. He's not a good enough shooter to play the Two at the next level so he needs to make a name as a distributor. That will provide Dez with all the motivation he needs to make this experiment a successful one. This hope is belied by the fact that Wells demonstrated poor decision making at many points last season. Will that change now that he is running the whole show? I think the answer is yes because Wells knows his teammates and the offense much better now than he did last year.
Regardless of who runs point for Maryland, the entire season depends on two things:
1. Shot Selection
Poor shot selection was the biggest reason why the Terps failed at times last year. Nick Faust and Wells were two of the biggest offenders but the whole team suffered from the affliction. I optimistically attribute this to so many freshman and sophomores playing big minutes. Now, the top returning players are all juniors and sophomores. I expect most if not all (I wonder if Faust will ever get it) to make better decisions. The key is to not force things (I'm looking at you Dez and Nick) and share the ball.
Turnovers are the scourge of every NCAA team and this week's exhibition against Catholic (15 TOs) did not exactly engender confidence that the Terps will be much better this year. Wells is strong with the ball and that should help. Another factor that should make things better is that the Terps have three 3PT sharpshooters (Jake Layman, Evan Smotrycz, and Seth Allen) who should free things up for the big guys down low to operate in the low post. With Wells and Faust slashing to the hoop, you've got all the makings of a team that beat you in multiple ways.
Turnovers and Shot Selection are all about good decision making. Have our guys learned how to do that?
We'll find out on Friday how far along these Terps are in the quest to reclaim the national prominence we once held. Neither outcome would surprise me.
Jonathan Graham ruled eligible for 2013-14
One bit of news that just came across is that Penn State transfer Jonathan Graham is eligible to play this season for Maryland.