The Off-Season Report is a new series here on Busting Brackets, where we catch up with with a writer of a specific team and discuss what’s taken thus far in the off-season. We continue our series today with Pete Volk of Testudo Times and discuss an eventful off-season for the Maryland Terrapins.
BustingBrackets.com: What word would best describe last season? Was it about what you expected it to be?
Pete Volk: In a word? Promising. The season went pretty much exactly as Maryland fans thought it would play out, and if anything, the Terps did better than expected. No one had tournament aspirations before the year (that’s including the NIT), but there were certain times during the season where it looked like a possibility (again, talking about the NIT). A lot of college basketball fans may have thought Terrell Stoglin came out of nowhere, but Terp fans knew he had that kind of pure scoring potential after his late season performances as a freshman.
But I say promising because there’s a lot of positive signs for the future of the program. More on that in a second.
BB: What’s the general opinion of Maryland fans on Mark Turgeon after his first year at the helm?
PV: There’s nothing more difficult than replacing a legend, and that’s what Turgeon has had to do after taking over for Gary Williams. And despite the relative mediocrity (by Maryland’s standards) that the Terps displayed last year, I don’t think public opinion of Turgeon could be any higher. He managed to control Stoglin (most of the time), found some success without really any post players to speak of, and the development of Nick Faust was highly encouraging. Add to that a top-20 recruiting class in the nation and the addition of a big transfer, and the hire is already looking like a huge success.
BB: Needless to say, it’s been a bit of an eventful off-season already for the program. What was your initial reaction when you first heard of the one year suspensions for ACC leading scorer Terrell Stoglin and Mychal Parker?
PV: To be honest, I was a little confused, but that’s only because the suspensions were announced after both players had said they were leaving. I don’t know if there was a better option, but it seemed kind of weird to announce suspensions for players after the fact.
BB: Did it surprise you that both decided to leave instead of serving the suspension?
PV: Not really. Turgeon and Stoglin never really gelled, despite the latter’s success, because of the guard’s inability to display consistent effort on defense. Parker also had trouble fitting in at Maryland, and his playing time was about to diminish significantly with the new guys coming in. In all honesty, it’s probably best for all parties involved, at least in the long-term.
BB: How do you see Michigan transfer Evan Smotrycz fitting in with this team?
PV: Well, he doesn’t get to play until 2013, but he fits in pretty perfectly. He’ll give Maryland some added depth at forward, and it’s not often you can pick up a 6’9″ guy who has the ability to stretch the floor. Smotrycz will add another dimension to Maryland’s offensive game, and while he may never start with the Terps, he’ll make a significant impact.
BB: The Terps certainly have an impressive group of recruits coming in with Shaquille Cleare and Jake Layman leading the way. What do you expect to see from the players in this class?
PV: I’m glad that you mentioned Layman, because most people talk about Cleare and Charles Mitchell. I think Layman is going to have a big part in this team taking over some of the roles that Sean Mosley had – great defense on the inside and outside, secondary scoring ability, and quality rebounding numbers. Cleare is probably going to get the most playing time, and he’s the only one of the six that I would say has a good chance of starting. Mitchell should provide forward depth, and Sam Cassell Jr. and Seth Allen will help with guard depth (especially with the two previously mentioned departures).
BB: Any early predictions for next season? Where do you see this team in the ACC race?
PV: To be honest, I have no idea. I want to say that Maryland can surprise a lot of people this year, and I still think they can. When Stoglin was still with the program, I saw some picking the Terps as a trendy, surprise ACC champion. I don’t see that happening, but I could reasonably see a surprise third or fourth place finish. Realistically though? Sixth.