Are the Maryland Terrapins For Real?

CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 14: Maryland Terrapins guard Anthony Cowan Jr. (1) dribbles the ball in action during a Big Ten Tournament game between the Nebraska Cornhuskers and the Maryland Terrapins on March 14, 2019 at the United Center in Chicago, IL. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The Maryland Terrapins are the seventh-ranked team in the country but are somewhat overlooked. When discussing the best teams in the nation, the Terps are rarely mentioned. They bring back most of their young team from last year that was a layup away from going to the Sweet 16. They also add a nice recruiting class. Will they find themselves in Atlanta in April?

Maryland Terrapins Roster

The stalwarts of this Maryland team are Anthony Cowan and Jalen Smith, two experienced players on the Naismith Watch List. Cowan is in his senior season and trying to bring his hometown school back to the promised land. He is excellent at finding his way into the lane but has struggled with his jump shot in the last few years. Cowan will need to use his driving ability to make plays for the rest of the Terps talented roster.

Jalen Smith chose not to test the NBA draft waters last year and return to school because he felt the team had a chance to be special. He is a talented stretch four and can score from all levels. This will probably be Smith’s last season at Maryland, so he is looking to return the Terps to prosperity with his fellow Maryland native, Anthony Cowan.

Aaron Wiggins might be the most important player on this roster. He is a lights-out shooter that has NBA wing written all over him. Wiggins is the only true shooter for Maryland, so his ability to extend the defense will be crucial to the Terps’ success.

Eric Ayala, Darryl Morsell, and Ricky Lindo are perfect glue guys to add to this talented roster. They all bring different abilities to fill roles crucial to success. Donta Scott, an athletic freshman from Philadelphia will contribute on the glass and defensively.

Lack of Confidence in Mark Turgeon

Throughout the Mark Turgeon era, Maryland has consistently had talented rosters but drastically underperformed. Last year, Maryland had LSU dead to rights in the Round of 32, but lost on a Tremont Waters lay in. In the eight years Turgeon has led Maryland, they have advanced to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament only once.

Turgeon’s most successful season at Maryland was 2015-16 when they were ranked third in the preseason poll. Unfortunately, this team ended up as a five seed in the NCAA Tournament. They were able to make a run to the Sweet 16 but ran into number one overall seed Kansas.

This year’s team has drawn some comparisons to that 2015-16 team. That 2015-16 team had a ton of experience and was one of the older teams in college basketball, which is not the case this year. Luckily, there is far more depth this year. Terps fans would not be happy with a five seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Additionally, there is very minimal trust in Turgeon in College Park. He deserves plenty of credit for his recruiting ability as he always has Maryland involved in the big-name recruits and frequently steals one or two. However, his in-game coaching is suspect at best. Too frequently, Maryland is walloped by ranked teams and better coaches. There is no excuse for that with the talent that consistently lines the Terrapin roster.

Before defeating Iowa last year, Maryland was 0-19 on the road against ranked teams under Turgeon. That puts them firmly in the middle of the pack with no chance to win the Big Ten every year. The Xfinity Center is quite possibly the best home-court advantage in college so they should win almost every home game, but they need to find some road wins, especially against the class of the Big Ten.

Mark Turgeon’s In-Game Coaching

Turgeon’s coaching ineptitude is on the offensive end. He utilizes several pick and rolls, which is more of an NBA offense, but there is no structure to the sets, which can be difficult for college players to execute. Too often, the shot clock winds down and someone is forced to make a heroic play.

Giving credit where credit is due, Turgeon is a great in-game defensive coach. He has no problems switching to different zones or presses that often confuse the opponent. In the Rhode Island game, the Rams were red hot early in the first half and Turgeon switched to a 3-2 and 1-3-1 zone to slow the offense. It worked great and Maryland was able to get steals, run, and never look back.

The 2019-20 Maryland Terrapins

Maryland plays six ranked teams as of now, with only one of those games coming in non-conference play. Another one of those is against Seton Hall, who may not have Myles Powell.

The Big Ten is not as strong as years past from top to bottom. If Joshua Langford misses this entire season, Michigan State will take a step back, making Maryland a legitimate threat to win the conference.

Maryland will play several games against teams that are just a tier below them in terms of talent and expectations. These are games that Maryland must win if they are to be taken seriously as a national championship threat.

Maryland should be somewhere close to 25-6 and ranked inside the top ten all year. Anything less will be another disappointing year for the Terps. They are already 2-0 with wins over Rhode Island and Holy Cross.

The Terrapins in the Turgeon era are one of the slowest starting teams. They always find themselves in a hole halfway through the first half due to sloppy turnovers and an inability to score. That must stop this year. There is too much talent and the expectations are too high.

The Hot Seat

Coach Turgeon seems to be in the good graces of the athletic department as he finally has received approval for a multi-million dollar state of the art basketball facility funded by booster donations. Turgeon certainly does not have total fan support, so the wins need to come in a hurry. Maryland needs to be a top two or three seed and play in the Big Ten title game, or else Turgeon’s seat will be red hot.

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