For all intents and purposes, barring a miracle run in the ACC tournament, our season ended last night in extremely frustrating fashion against a relatively average Miami team. It certainly FELT like a new low for this program---not able to even muster a fight against a cellar dwelling ACC team with our tournament hopes on the line. But now is the time for true fans to take a step back, allow the anger to come and go, and realize that the future is extremely bright for the Terps.
I'll be the first to admitt I expected better from this group of kids---at least an NCAA birth. I even wrote a fanpost arguing that we had Sweet 16 potential at the beginning of the year. Clearly, I was wrong. Simply put, our upper classmen just didn't have it. Cliff fell off the face of the earth, Adrian Bowie's game kind of regressed a bit and Dino Gregory---while he is a great mid range shooter and a hustle kind of guy---got out muscled in key games. It's tough to win when those three things happen.
But look at what happened in terms of the positives. Terrell Stoglin is on a 5 game run that no freshman point guard in the country can compete with right now. Pe' Shon Howard looks to me to be a solid "glue" guy with some upside on his outside shot. He also has demonstrated an already unreal ability to make jaw-dropping assists. Hawk Palsson has shown an ability to step outside and hit a 3, as well as a willingness to bang inside. If he puts on some weight and keeps working on that shot--he will be a solid ACC contributor next season.
Now let's look at what we have coming in. What was the ONE thing that we missed this year? Undoubtedly a lights out 3 point shooter. Stogs and Howard can use their strength to get in the lane all day every day, the only problem is it doesn't do the team any good because nobody can hit a shot on the kick out with any consistency. Well by all accounts Nick Faust will be able to hit that shot consistently. And by all accounts Bruenig has the ability to step out as well. (I am not really sure on gibbs' ability to drain it). This coupled with the fact that I expect guys like Stogs, Howard and Palsson to shoot with more confidence and a better percentage next year, and I think we could be one of the better outside shooting teams in the conference. This in turn will open things up for JWill down low and now our opponents have problems.
Now--if Gary can go get Greg Whittington we are in business. The only thing I see missing from next year's team is a true 3 who can score (we all know Mosely is niether a true 3, nor can he score). Whittington appears to be that---and having him on campus could light a fire under Parker's stomach.
Here's how I see our Rotation:
PG: Stoglin (with Howard/Gibbs spelling)
To me this is at the very least a tournament team. I feel pretty comfortable saying that. Losing Dino might hurt a bit at first while Bruenig Hawk and Pankey struggle to emerge at the 4---but losing bowie and tucker might just be addition by subtraction before long.
Now this could all go horribly wrong if JWill packs it up and heads to the NBA. That's gary's biggest recruiting job---but my gut says JWill would be foolish to jump this year. He really did not have a good end to the year by his standards.
So just take a deep breath---and look at what we have in store next year. The future looks pretty bright.
(P.S. to the admins I think a little breakdown of individual players games/progression at the end of the season might be a cool feature)