Standing at 11-9 right now and watching the season slowly drifting away, I would think most Maryland fans are asking themselves: Is it going to get better? Is help on the way? Will next year's class of recruits have a major impact?
I scanned the stats today and clearly, they are revealing. The Terps shoot 43 percent for the year, and only 66 percent from the line. They have more turnovers (265) than assists (240). Maryland has no defensive intimidators in the post (Mitchell and Cleare have 20 blocks between them for the year). While they rebound the ball well (second in the ACC), their defensive field-goal percentage stinks (47 percent through seven ACC contests).
So, yes, there are problems all around. That said, will the four man class of 2014 help? We've seen them all multiple times this year, so let's take a look:
Romelo Trimble, 6-foot-2, Guard: Trimble has somehow kept Bishop O'Connell at the top of the WCAC standings this year, despite the Knights not having a true secondary ball-handler or scorer. He's faced multiple double teams and defenses geared to stop him. He's had some turnover problems, but still, he produces, and especially in the clutch. I can't see Trimble not getting on the floor next year for the Terps. While possessing only modest athletic skills, Trimble knows how to play basketball, and let's face it, this year's Terps could use a dose of basketball IQ. He's improved as a ball-handler, passes very well, lets the game come to him, and is a devastating open shooter with unlimited range. All of those traits should be helpful.
I don't see Trimble being an end of game "breakdown" type of player in terms of creating offense by attacking the rim and finishing, and yet, you want him on the floor at those times, either to make an open jumper or make the proper basketball play. He'll have trouble defensively at times, but will make the effort to defend, and he has the necessary strength to hold his own physically in the Big Ten. I see Trimble also being a career 80-percent free-throw shooter as well (significant as the Terps presently don't knock them down real well from the stripe). So, yes, Trimble brings poise and skills to the table, and we see him as the most immediate contributor from the freshman class next year.
Dion Wiley, 6-3, Guard: Wiley had a huge summer for Team Takeover on the Nike circuit, and was a priority recruiting target for the Terps throughout the year. When he's playing his best, Wiley is one of the nation's premier long-distance shooters, and has some breakdown ability to go along with it, despite not being an elite run/jump athlete. He handles the ball reasonably well, and has shown a solid ability to pass the basketball.
Wiley's been injured some this year for Potomac, and as a result his performances have been up and down. He recently had a clunker of a game against St. John's, didn't appear to be in tip top shape, and, more importantly, didn't seem to bring maximum effort to the game. If he makes a concerted effort to lose a few pounds and get in the best condition of his life, he should be able to help Maryland fairly early in his career.
Also, he'll need to buckle down defensively at all times. Wiley's got good strength and size for a college two-guard, and he has some skills. We'll follow him closely as his senior year winds down to monitor his progress from a conditioning standpoint. He's got plenty of talent, but with a potentially crowded backcourt looming it will be up to him to "bring" it each and every time he gets an opportunity.
Jared Nickens, 6-6, Wing: The concerns with Nickens are evident immediately. He's still very thin, and he will have to spend countless hours in the weight room in order to prepare for the rigors of Big Ten basketball. At this point, he's strictly a finesse type player, but he has expanded his game somewhat by improving his off-the-bounce game. He used to be known strictly as a spot up shooter, but now can take several dribbles before letting fly.
Nickens, though, can be a devastating force with his ability to shoot a basketball from virtually anywhere on the floor. He possesses a beautiful release, and a very quick trigger. It doesn't take him long to set his feet and fire. This year he's also been able to get to the rim and finish a bit better in traffic, although as a freshman in the Big Ten I'd think most of his damage will be done from the perimeter.
Nickens has long arms and good quickness, and should be a decent defender in time, although, again, can he guard physical wings at this level as a freshman? That's a legitimate question that needs to be answered. Until he gets stronger, I would think Nickens' minutes won't be plentiful as a freshman. But you need shooters, and this young man can do that. After a year to get stronger, I can see Nickens making a nice contribution to the program.
Trayvon Reed, 7-1, Center: As we mentioned, Maryland currently has no one in the post who is a true shot blocking, shot altering threat. Damonte Dodd may be able to help in that area, but he's just learning the game and is not ready for prime time. Reed is long -- real long -- and though he has a tendency to "swat down" on shooters, when he extends his arms and stays vertical he definitely can provide some resistance on the defensive end of the court. His upper body is coming along nicely (he is up to 230 pounds), but he'll still need lots of lower body workouts in order to hold his position in the paint.
We like Reed's rebounding, and he can rebound out of his area very well. I can't recall someone his size at Maryland ever who can get up and down the court as well as he does. So he brings some things to the table in defense and rebounding.
Offensively, well, that is another story. He seems to have decent touch, based on the free throw shooting that we've witnessed. Reed really hasn't shown any offensive post moves to date, and that's an area which needs to be addressed. But with all the talk we've heard about the Terps eventually wanting to go with four shooters/handlers on the court, what you need then would be a rebounder, shot-blocker type who can protect the rim and get up and down the court. Reed should be able to do that, although he is far from a finished product and we shouldn't expect too much, too fast.
There's a quick look at the pros and cons of each 2014 recruit, based on our very recent multiple viewings of all four. All of them have definite skills to provide, and yet they all have things to work on, as does every freshman entering college.
How much they play next year will be determined by how hard they work, how the current Terps either progress or regress, and if there is any attrition. It's got the potential to be a very good class in time, and yet, it would be unfair to suggest that any of them will be the immediate answers to what ails this team. Like all freshmen, it will take time and plenty of effort to them to make their mark.
Is Help on the Way for Terps Hoops?
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