In November, I asked a simple question. What is wrong with Maryland Basketball?
It served as an early assessment of the Terps after a narrow victory over American. That six-point win pushed Mark Turgeon’s team out of the top 25, and they haven’t returned.
Despite all that, the Terps started the season 13-2, with losses to Pitt and Nebraska the only hiccups (on their record, anyway). However, Maryland basketball still faces a tall task in righting the ship.
Shortly after defeating Maryland, Pitt fell to Duquesne. Nebraska beat Indiana and Maryland, but are currently 8-6, and should see little luck in the Big Ten. Both games were at home. The Terps should not have lost either, and with few ranked opponents on the horizon, clear opportunities have been missed.
Against Pitt, the Terps shot an abysmal 34 percent from the field. Pitt out-rebounded Maryland, and dominated the game from start to finish. In many ways, the Terps shot themselves in the foot, but their ACC adversary did their job.
Nebraska was a different story. The Terps, led by true freshman Kevin Huerter’s career night, owned a 12-point advantage with six minutes to go. Huerter scored 26 points, while Melo Trimble added 14. The rest of the team combined for 25, and a 14-0 run by the Cornhuskers earned them a 67-65 victory. By all accounts, Maryland blew it.
Terps' last nine possessions …
Missed J + TO
Missed layup x 2
Missed 3 + missed J
— Patrick Stevens (@D1scourse) January 1, 2017
Where do they go from here? How do they recover, take on the Big Ten, and settle themselves before an attempted NCAA Tournament run?
Though not as talented as last year’s team, this team shares similarities with Turgeon’s squad two seasons ago. That team exceeded expectations, led by the experience of Dez Wells—mirrored by Melo Trimble. Trimble, Dion Wiley, Damonte Dodd and Michal Cekovsky made up the youth of that team. Now they must provide the leadership and experience Wells and Jake Layman did.
I have difficulty envisioning a deep tournament run, but talent exists in this Terps squad. Huerter, Justin Jackson, and Anthony Cowan possess youth and ability. If they harness it, and put it to good use in a well-run scheme, the Terps could go beyond what is expected once again.