Well, where do we begin? It's been a season of frustration so far for Maryland, and I keep looking for that improvement from game to game which never seems to materialize.
The debacle in Raleigh, N.C., on Monday night probably takes the program to a new low, especially considering that State's best player, T.J. Warren, didn't even suit up. But that game has been analyzed to death. So, where does this program go from here?
Here's what we know: There are 12 regular season games left, and I could see Maryland being favored in perhaps four or five of them. Let's dream for a minute and figure a 6-6 split. The Terps would then finish at 17-14, basically the same record as when Turge and the staff took over the program three years ago with Terrell Stoglin and a weak supporting cast.
No matter how you slice it, that's a significant step backward, and truth be told, I could see a .500 overall record happening, just based on recent results.
The most frustrating part of it all is that Terp fans can't seem to count on any one player from game to game. The inconsistency and erratic play is maddening, and I'm not quite sure if there is anyone who can lead this team, put it on his back, and assure both fans and coaches that it's going to get better.
If I'm a Terp, though, I'd be looking at these final 12 games as an audition so to speak. I'd lay it all on the line, to the point of forcing the coaches to play you, despite the circumstances or matchups of each game. And truthfully, if any player doesn't really give it his all, and play with some heart (particularly defensively), then that person probably shouldn't be here.
Maryland's not really playing for any real postseason accolades at this point. To me, each Terp has to play for pride, with the fear of being embarrassed enough motivation to give 100-percent effort at all time. Then, if you still lose, at least you know you left it all on the floor, and to me, that hasn't always been the case this year.
Looking ahead, I've read some posts about adding a "true" point guard, and a scoring big man, and honestly, I'd say the odds are against that happening.
First, at the moment at least, there are no scholarships available. Second, how much legit high major talent is still available out there? Not a ton my friends.
No, to me, we'll see who returns next year, plug in the four freshman signees, and hope the chemistry and work ethic gets a lot better than it is now. I remember when Rick Pitino took the Celtics job and cautioned Boston fans that "Larry Bird is not walking through that door." The same holds true here. I don't see some magical five-star recruit with one-and-done talent coming in to rescue the sinking ship. So, if things remain the same, roster wise, (possible, but not likely in my humble opinion), here's what Maryland has on their 2014-15 roster:
Bigs: Shaq Cleare, Charles Mitchell, Damonte Dodd, Trayvon Reed
Forwards: Evan Smotrycz, Jon Graham, Jake Layman
Guards/Wings: Dez Wells, Nick Faust, Seth Allen, Roddy Peters, Dion Wiley, Melo Trimble, Jared Nickens
Now, that list doesn't exactly bring back memories of the UCLA teams of the past, but still, there's some talent there, though admittedly all 14 kids have some identifiable flaws in their games. You just hope that the staff can come up with nine of them who actually can work and play together on the court, so that things can be turned around to some extent.
Before the season, I talked about the importance of this year -- how it was crucial to make the Dance, and how it would promote the Maryland "brand," and how it would really help with recruiting.
It's safe to say the Dance is not going to happen, and we'll see how that affects 2015 recruiting. It appears that a number of the more high profile '15 recruits are already in the "longshot" to "not gonna happen" categories.
And yes, it's unfortunate that I am here in late January talking more about next year's outlook instead of trying to figure out what seed the Terps could have been in this year's bracket. But it is what it is.
A couple quick recruiting notes.....
Chris Clarke, the 6-foot-5 wing from Virginia Beach, will be in town Saturday night at the Nation's Capital Classic Hoopfest, being held at Coolidge HS. Clarke still does not have a Maryland offer, and though he might not have a big national profile, we still see him as a nice fit, considering his explosiveness, his skill level (minus the perimeter shot), and most of all, his motor and heart.
After our trek to Philadelphia last weekend, my opinion of Malik Ellison continues to escalate. He's gotten better in each of the four games I've witnessed, and yes, he's going to be a very good prospect, considering his youth and growth potential. Ellison might be Maryland's best bet for a wing signee at this time, but I do think more high major schools will be extending offers this Spring. Ellison played lights out against Westtown in that 71-61 loss.
At this time, I don't see a reputable big man ready to pop in '15, although the recruiting status of Georgios Papagiannis remains murky. We'll have to be patient and see where that recruitment leads.
I would be surprised if Montrose Christian's Allonzo Trier doesn't get an offer soon, because frankly, he's that good. You always try to "slot" recruits based on returning players and the needs of a program, but at this point in time clearly the Terps need better players than they currently have -- at all positions. And I don't think they're in a position to turn down any outstanding player, which Trier certainly is.
Esa Ahmad continues to build interest, with most observers saying West Virginia may be the clubhouse leader. That said, Maryland's in there, and though I don't necessarily see Ohio State making a big push, my guess is that an Ohio kid is going to really look hard at the Big Ten, and now Wisconsin, Iowa, and Michigan are among the programs getting in the mix.
It's way too early to handicap this recruitment, although we do give kudos to Dustin Clark and Mark Turgeon for getting on this kid early.
I haven't seen or heard much about any new names for '15, but again, a lot of that interest is predicated on how a particular program is doing, and 11-8 is probably not opening a lot of eyes out there on the recruiting front.
Lastly, we need to give a shout out to the ladies. One loss for the season, ranked No. 6 in the nation, and looking like a real threat to win the ACC in its final year there.
The Terps are gearing up for shot in the next week with No. 2 rated Notre Dame. In the past few years, while the ladies have consistently been rated in the top 10, there's been a huge drop off between, say, UConn, Notre Dame, Stanford and the rest.
The Irish will pose a formidable challenge to Maryland. It will be interesting to see how competitive the Terps are. When UConn came to town back in December, Maryland hung in for a half, and then faded down the stretch.
TTDan's Hoops Dish
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