Assessing the Terps

TSR assesses the Maryland Terrapins basketball team after the first nine games of the season.

It's been about as ragged as expected with the decimated recruiting class, suspended player, injured starter and a new coach implementing a new system. The Terps are 6-3 and depending on your way of looking at things, are probably about where they were expected to be. Breaking down what can get better is easy because sitting at home, everyone is an armchair quarterback. Bearing that in mind, here is what would be ideal in terms of realistic expectations.

First off, congratulations to Mark Turgeon, who has done an extremely good job so far. He has got his team's attention, has related to his players and they have to the best of their ability so far, adopted the system in place. Like any team under a new coach, they have great room for improvement. Defensively they have to close out on the three-point shooters with much more zeal. The general contention is that if Mount Saint Mary's and FIU are lighting you up from the arc, Duke and North Carolina will have a field day that could get ugly real fast when the teams meet. The good news is that the problem has been identified by the coach and it's a work in progress. Players are here to learn and function within the system. No one expects perfection, just progress.

Offensively, this team will be challenged all year. Pankey and Padgett have shown flashes but need to be more assertive in the paint to attract fouls and be considered a threat with the ball. I thought Pankey showed well against FIU, hitting clutch free throws and scoring inside when the chance was there. Padgett doesn't force much, which is good and bad. He is not explosive so he has to pick-and-choose his moves. He'll make the occasional turnover from the trap but he looks comfortable with the ball and much improved from last year. The verdict on whether Alex Len can be a factor inside remains to be seen, he certainly will get the chance. For myself, I like Pankey and hope he continues to stay on the court (which means working hard on both ends and doing what the coach says). For the most part, just hope the front line can play even with the opposition when the real season starts. Aside from UNC, Duke and perhaps Mike Scott of UVA, the ACC does not have any other big-time imposing front lines. So Terps can certainly approach most every ACC game knowing they can compete up front.

The guards have to protect the ball and avoid the turnovers. Oddly enough, even on Gary Williams' mediocre teams, they could turn the ball over 20 times and still win or be close. This year's edition cannot afford that. They don't shoot well enough or score enough transition buckets for that luxury. Turgeon has the team pretty well drilled as long as they focus, not always easy for a team still feeling its way about. Stoglin is obviously the man who will garner the rock for the majority of the time he is on the court, for better or worse. He has a great talent to create contact and get to the line, very very valuable asset for the Terps. To beat teams to the bonus helps our chances of scoring immensely. Turgeon's soldiers don't really have any dead-eye shooters as yet. I think once Nick Faust gets the pressure of being the point, he can relax and attack more. No one can realistically be more pleased with Nick's game, sans the shooting percentages. His ball handling has been very good, defense very good and floor game solid. He's only 9 games into what we hope will be a productive 4-year career here and I think we all can see the talent. The shooting eye will come once he absorbs the pace and the feel for the college game.

The bench contributes when it can, which is cool. Mychal Parker looks relaxed out there and I would love to see him shoot and attack a shade more. Whether the coaches have that same idea in mind is another matter. He is such a fluid athlete who you can just see how good he will be down the road. As he works on his mid-range game and out, the opportunities should come. He has defended well, worked well within the set offense and just needs to continue to gain confidence as the opportunities present themselves. Definitely bias because I think he is our best athlete and would love to see him leak out on transition a little more.

Mosley is still seeking a niche on the floor, I think. He wants to be offensively aggressive, just has not found the right area to attack in. I would like to see him stationed at the foul line where he can face and shoot/drive/dish. I think he could play that spot the same way Albert King played it in 1980, when he blossomed for the Terps. He consistently nailed the foul line jumper and if Mosley just shoots that without thinking too hard, I think it could really work for him.

As for Weiss, I wish he could gain some of my weight. He has been as effective as he can be in limited stretches. The walk-ons have pitched in as well, so good for them. Here's to hoping we can take care of business before the ACC Season starts. No one is thinking post-season, which is just why it could happen if the team relaxes and plays hard at the same time.


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