It's way too early to form any firm opinions on this Maryland team. The freshmen are still learning, the competition has been less than stellar, and we'll simply know more by Christmas than we do now. There's a lot of new players, and this is going to be a process.
Are there concerns? Absolutely. Rebounding might be the one that sticks out the most. Is there a dominant perimeter defender? Probably not, though I do think Richaud Pack, and, surprisingly, Dion Wiley, are willing to give it a shot.
Hopefully for Terps fans Melo Trimble will relax. It's been stated here often that the guy has the weight of the world on his shoulders, having to come in straight from high school with many (not me, however) expecting him to be "the man." Trimble's forced a few things, and missed shots he normally makes, but again, it's two games. If Trimble simply plays his game, he'll be fine, but all Terp fans should expect some bumps in the road along the way.
Now I know Evan Smotrycz is not an elite defender, nor an exceptional athlete, but it will be good for UMD to get him back, perhaps within two weeks. I would doubt he'll be ready for the CBE Hall of Fame Classic next week, but we know he can shoot, he's a solid rebounder, and he does create matchup problems. The Terps need him back -- and soon.
I'm anxious to see how Jake Layman plays when the Terps go to Kansas City next week. They will open with Arizona State, and then get the winner of Iowa State/Alabama. So far, Jake's been more aggressive, and shown flashes of what he can do. For this team to harbor any thoughts of dancing this year however, Layman simply must take that next step up and do it consistently. The freshmen will have their moments this year, but even after just two games, it's plainly obvious that this group will go as far as Dez Wells and Layman take it.
I've written before that I felt Jon Graham gave the Terps the best shot at winning games -- now. Damonte Dodd got the start against Central Connecticut State, and he was a factor defensively, albeit against a very small CCS squad. It sounds like coach Mark Turgeon may alternate big-men starters as the season rolls along. Terps fans are probably hoping Graham can hold down the fort now, until such time Dodd, and perhaps even Michal Cekovsky, can make more consistent contributions.
Two recruiting priorities: The Terps must find a tenacious rebounder somewhere, and they still need a big time wing athlete. I didn't get out on the ledge when Charles Mitchell transferred, but the guy could board, and I am not sure anyone on this current squad fills that void adequately. Though redshirt junior Robert Carter will be an instant impact guy next year, Maryland will need him to score -- and score often. Many would like to see the Terps land a bigger version of Mitchell, or even a Boom Osby type, that can cause mayhem in the Big Ten; be physical; and eat up the glass.
As for the wing, with Dez Wells graduating, I just don't see that high flying, slashing athlete that can take his place down the road. Jake Layman, assuming he returns, is a player, and we do like Jared Nickens, but neither are physical type slashers. Mark Turgeon and Co. have to find an explosive finisher on the wing.
I'd love to give you several names at each position of need along those lines, but my list of '15 possibles isn't long. I did speak to a scout who has seen lots of 6-11 Yankuba Sima (Arlington Country Day/Jacksonville, Fla.), and he filed this brief report: "Sima's good, and he's gonna be great. He has great hands and feet, is very athletic, rebounds very well, and blocks shots." The source didn't have a lot of say about his offense, but that's OK. It appears as though Sima will be a spring signee, and we'll see if the Terps can make an impression on the Spaniard, who is (like Alex Len and Michal Cekovsky) a product of the Canarius Basketball Academy.
As of this writing, we're still waiting to see if Diamond Stone (Dominican HS/Whitefish Bay, Wisc.) will announce his college intentions during the early period, which ends Nov. 19. UConn still seems like the favorite, with homestate Wisconsin getting some consideration. I've spoken to no one who gives Maryland much of a shot, but again, until he announces, we just don't know. UMD fans would love to see Stone and Carter together next year, but I still deal in reality here, and I just don't see it happening.
The Terps did have post-grad senior Tim Rowe on campus recently. Rowe transferred from a high school in Georgia to Mt. Zion Prep in Baltimore, where one of his coaches is former Terp Rodney Elliott. Rowe stands about 6-10, has decent skills, but is only an average athlete. At this time, it would appear he's likely more a mid-major prospect, but Maryland will keep tabs on him.
Maurice O'Field's (Midland C.C./Midland, Texas) recruitment remains on hold. O'Field, who holds a Terps offer, has pretty much shut it down until the spring, but he does seem to be (at least on video) someone who could do some of the stuff Dez Wells does now. So we'll continue to monitor his recruitment, as it's expected more schools will be checking him out in the coming months.
In 2016 recruiting, the Terps continue to monitor 6-3 combo guard Curt Jones (Huntington Prep/Huntington, W.Va.). The schools most mentioned with Jones are Wake Forest, NC State, Virginia, VCU, Maryland, and Missouri. We like Jones, though he seems bound and determined to be recruited solely as a point guard. He certainly can play it, but his ability to score is still the strongest part of his game.
Assistant coach Cliff Warren continues to tap his Georgia roots, and appears to have made some inroads with juniors Chris Lewis, 6-8 (Milton HS); and D'Marcus Simonds, 6-4 (Gainesville HS). The Terps are now involved with four of the top five Georgia prospects in the Class of 2016, according to our good friend Justin Young of Hoop Seen. Maryland is also heavily recruiting point guard Alterique Gilbert, 5-10 (Miller Grove HS); and 6-5 combo guard Brandon Robinson (Douglas County HS).
Finally, Fordham from the A10 comes to town Nov. 20, and the Rams have long been a doormat in that league. The Rams have some dangerous weapons though. Freshman Eric Paschall (6-6) is a talent, and already starting; Jon Severe, a sophomore 6-2 long range bomber, had some attention from the Terps as a high school star at Christ the King; and 6-8 junior Ryan Rhoomes is solid. We expect the Terps to prevail, but Fordham will definitely be a step up in competition. It will be interesting to see how Maryland responds.
TTDan's Hoops Dish
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