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Oh, people are sharing the ball this year, you say? I wonder what it could be. I, like Mark Turgeon in the above photo, am completely stumped.
Look, I like Terrell Stoglin a lot. People know that. I think he had as much technical basketball skill as anyone to step foot in College Park in years, if not ever. He had almost nothing in the way of physical talent, and he was still able to be immensely productive, and there's something to be said for that. And he reminds me of my days as an undersized, completely unathletic chucker of a 2-guard.
And I also think Maryland's not better off without him, despite what many think.
But that doesn't mean I don't see some positives in him leaving. Like, for instance, more people will get their hands on the ball. Nick Faust, at Maryland basketball's media day, appears to agree:
Nick Faust on differences for this years #Terps team: "Everyone puts their hands on the ball before the shot goes up"— JP Finlay (@jpfinlay) October 9, 2012
Faust, of course, didn't attribute this magical happening to anything in particular. But I think we all know what he was referring to. Oh, and would you care to weigh in, Mark Turgeon?
Turgeon: "The guys we signed don’t have egos. They’re looking you in the eye, listening. When you have that, chemistry is going to be good."— Alex Prewitt (@alex_prewitt) October 9, 2012
This was about the new recruits, but it certainly sounds like he's quietly referring to something here. His, uh, distaste for Stoglin's attitude was hardly a secret.
And in some ways, his absence will make Maryland better, just as Turgeon and Faust allude to. It'll certainly be a positive building block for the future. But, at least in the early days, the newfound team concept will be pretty cold comfort when Maryland's shooting 30% from the floor and struggling to get buckets. And yes, I'm a total eeyore, just ignore me.
In other Faustian news: our favorite string bean isn't so much a string bean anymore, getting allllllll the way up to 205. He was 175 last year, so he's put on a full-on 30 pounds from the start of last season 'til now. As long as he can retain his explosiveness, that's a significant development, because the added strength will make that much better a finisher at the rim. And he was already a really good one. He's also apparently reworked his jumper, which is good for aesthetic reasons but completely scary for productive ones. It's not like his jumper was a knock-down thing to start with, but it was fairly consistent by the end of the year. Maybe retooling it makes it more effective...or maybe it sinks it. Hopefully the former, but we'll see.
Oh, some delightful news: there's a new walk-on! Young Kobe's gone, so we have to have a new guard to talk about, what with Spencer Barks holding down the walk-on big man spot. Enter Varun Ram, a 5-9 point guard who spent last season at Trinity College. He skipped two grades in elementary school, so I'm guessing he'll be somewhat of a GPA booster.
Here's something that could confuse the Calipari-haters among us (read: everyone). Why did Cal agree to play Maryland in the Barclays Center early in the year? To help out Mark Turgeon. No, really:
This Kentucky-Maryland matchup happened as soon as Turgeon landed to become new #Terps coach. Calipari called, offered the game.— Alex Prewitt (@alex_prewitt) October 9, 2012
Turgeon on Calipari: "It was a no-brainer. As a friend he didn’t have to do that, but he wanted to help our program." #Terps— Alex Prewitt (@alex_prewitt) October 9, 2012
Turge and Cal are big friends - if you remember back to last year, Turgeon said he "loved" Calipari, back from when Calipari was a coach at Kansas. It makes things a bit morally confusing, since we're seemingly all duty-bound to hate Calipari. Frankly, though, I hope this leads to something of a turnaround in Calipari's public opinion in College Park - I've always thought he got a pretty unfair rap, because despite all of his shadiness he's still the best recruiter ever and one of the best coaches ever. Just as we grew to respect Coach K, who looked out for Gary, so shall we grow to respect Cal, who'll look out for Turgeon.
And even if you absolutely refuse to do so, let's be honest: he's not a bad friend to have.
I do look forward to a budding Maryland-Kentucky rivalry, though. The Harrison Twin saga won't be the last time the two meet on the trail, and I doubt this is the last time they'll meet on the court, too.
On Dez Wells: nothing's changed as far as the waiver process goes, and we're still just playing the waiting game. But if you want to feel good, this is quite the exchange:
... Dez Wells: "When I first talked to coach Turgeon, I had never heard of him before or talked to him." Turgeon: "You live under a rock?"— Patrick Stevens (@D1scourse) October 9, 2012
Show me a Maryland fan who says they don't like Turgeon, and I'll show you a liar.
While we continue to think the coaching staff is the bestest, Jake Layman says "pretty much the whole reason [he] came [to Maryland]" was Scott Spinelli. That's not groundbreaking, I don't think; Spin is a northeast guy with strong ties up there, and he was Layman's main guy all along. Whether they admit it or not, the main recruiter is the biggest factor with almost every major recruit. Still, Spinelli's boss. And I still fear we'll lose him to a coaching job before we want to.
Oh, and speaking of Layman: he'll get some practice time at the four. His primary position will be the 3, sounds like, but I'm okay with him being an option at the 4, at least when Maryland wants to go small.
To finish things off: Shaq Cleare and Chuck Mitchell - can we call him Chuck? I'm going to call him Chuck. Anyway, Shaq Cleare and Chuck Mitchell have lost 20 pounds and 18 pounds, respectively, over the summer. That's a lot of weight, but it's good news for both. They were bigger than they needed to be, and that hurt them in both conditioning and athleticism. Cleare, who should be around 250 or so now, is at a sweet spot and doesn't need to lose any more to be effective at this level. The same holds for Mitchell, but the intriguing thing is that he if does shed a bit more weight, he could become the Draymond Green-esque player some predicted when he came on-board.
Throw in a bulkier Alex Len, an experienced James Padgett, Layman playing a bit of four, and you have quite the frontcourt. But my favorite thing about it: try to read basically anything about Shaquille Cleare and not smile. It's darn tough, isn't it?