ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 08: (L-R) Terrell Stoglin #12 and Nick Faust #5 of the Maryland Terrapins look on against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons during their first round game of 2012 ACC Men's Basketball Conferene Tournament at Philips Arena on March 8, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Yes, the Maryland Terrapins are no longer playing competitive basketball. "See you next year," blah blah blah, all that stuff. But for those who are willing to stick around, this offseason is shaping up to be an unusually interesting one, with plenty of news and controversy likely. No, not as big as last year's (obviously), but it'll be far from boring.
Why? Glad you asked. A few important storylines to keep an eye on in the coming months:
Will Terrell Stoglin stay or go? The $64,000 question. The Terrapins' star and the ACC's leading scorer is uncertain what his future holds, as he says he's leaning toward returning to College Park but wants to test the waters of the pro game. Rumors about his intentions swell, but odds are that he hasn't decided one way or the other just yet. Clearly, this is going to be the most important thing to keep an eye on throughout the offseason, dominating headlines and perhaps deciding the short-term future of Maryland's program.
There are some who think Maryland could be better without Stoglin, given the talent they have coming in and the rumored troubles between player and coach. That's a little ridiculous; while no one would consider Stoglin to have been a particularly efficient scorer last year, he also wasn't terribly inefficient, and he was actually very good when Pe'Shon Howard was in the lineup: his offensive rating rose nearly ten points when Howard returned (and then dropped another ten after he left, but let's ignore that for the moment).
The general consensus is that Stoglin probably isn't ready for the league right now, but at the same time it's arguable that his stock won't rise in the future as he's surrounded by more talent and used less. If he does leave, Maryland may be able to set itself up as a more Turgeon-esque team in the long run, but it will undoubtedly harm their short-term prospects.
Other attrition still possible. Likely, in fact. It's been almost a foregone conclusion that Maryland would have some attrition under Mark Turgeon - it's been years since they kept everyone together in the first place, and that was with the same coach. With a new head guy, it's long been expected that someone - especially a fringe player, like perhaps Ashton Pankey or Mychal Parker - would be transferring in the offseason. While such a thing seems less likely now with such little depth and so much playing time up for grabs, if I had to guess I'd still say it's likely someone leaves. The big question, of course, is who exactly that is, and what Maryland can do in response to it. The loss of Pankey or Parker might not hurt, with two bigs and Jake Layman in on the way; if it's something more unexpected, though, like if Howard can't recover from his ACL injury, or if Alex Len pulls a Hawk Palsson, it'd be significantly more painful.
2012 recruiting still to be decided. We wrote at this length just a few days ago, highlighting some of Maryland's biggest targets left on the board: Sam Cassell Jr., Darrick Wood, Jerron Wilbut, and Thaddeus Hall. But they're not the only ones; Ian Baker and Trey Dickerson have also been mentioned in connection to the Terrapins, and it seems Mark Turgeon is desperate to add quality depth to the perimeter.
It isn't likely these recruiting battles will end any time soon. Cassell Jr. still has multiple visits lined up and is one of the nation's most fought-over prospects (this late in the game, at least). Wood, Wilbut, and Hall are all rumored to have some potential academics issues, which means their recruitment won't get too serious until they're qualified (or, at least, decide to be 2012 recruits, as opposed prepping and waiting until 2013). And, of course, as more coaches end up elsewhere - Shaka Smart is likely to head to Illinois, with other high-major changes only a matter of time - their recruits will perhaps hit the open market. (Pray for Jamie Dixon to go somewhere?)
And 2013 recruiting is right around the corner. Believe it or not, AAU season is just a blink away, with the first tournaments starting up in April and May. No one knows exactly how big Maryland's class will be in the '13 - that will largely be determined by the finish of the '12 class - it will surely be an important one, as Mark Turgeon and his staff has been laying groundwork with high-level recruits ever since arriving in College Park.
The Harrison Twins are the obvious big fish, and they have been down to four schools for weeks now. It seems likely that they'll decide before the summer's out, as they've made trips to all of their four finalists. They'd be Maryland's biggest commitments since the days of Lefty Driesell (perhaps ever), but the Terrapins don't have all of their eggs in just that basket, with Rysheed Jordan, Stanford Robinson, Rashawn Powell, and more high-level targets as strong considerations.
As always, more targets will emerge as AAU continues on, especially with Turgeon's belief in his evaluating skills and willingness to take on less highly-touted players that he believes have major talent - Seth Allen and Damonte Dodd being the obvious examples, but Jake Layman is another instance. Perhaps the most interesting question: which big man, if any, does Maryland go after? They had focused in on BeeJay Anya and Kennedy Meeks early in the process, but with heavy bangers Shaquille Cleare and Charles Mitchell already added it would probably be preferable to add someone who isn't a carbon copy. Or, perhaps, the staff believes it already has a 2013 big man committed: Dodd will either prep or redshirt, so he'll effectively be in the '13 class anyway.
Either way, it'll be interesting to watch.
Finding a Scott Spinelli replacement? The one guy I wasn't sure about when Turgeon finalized his first staff at Maryland was Spinelli, a Turgeon disciple who had been with him since Wichita St. Shows what I know: Spinelli has been a rock star of an assistant in College Park, securing a commitment from four-star Jake Layman and clearly taking the role of Turgeon's #2, overseeing a big comeback at Miami after Turgeon's ejection. Spinelli's star in the coaching world is rising: he's a rumored candidate for Nebraska, and will likely be in play at northeastern jobs, like Rhode Island. In fact, if he's still on the staff come next year, I'll be pleasantly surprised.
Which means that Maryland and Turgeon will be in the market for a new lead assistant. It's difficult to overstate the impact of someone like Spinelli, who is probably Maryland's most talented assistant since Jimmy Patsos. He's a fantastic talent evaluator in recruiting (he supposedly identified Layman when he was at A&M, months before he blew up on the national scene), extremely well-connected in the northeastern prep scene (he was a former coach at Winchendon, a high-powered prep school), and most importantly really knows his Xs and Os, both in game prep and on the bench. These coaches don't grow on trees, and I doubt that Bino Ranson or Dalonte Hill - both focused toward recruiting via local connections - could properly fill it.
Some will certainly call for the return of Rob Ehsan, and while I'm a huge Ehsan fan he's probably a bit greener than would be ideal for that spot. Will Maryland look for yet another big-name hire, somehow luring someone like Russell Springmann from Texas? Or perhaps an as-of-yet unknown Turgeon follower? Or will anyone be needed at all - after all, this is more or less speculation for the moment.
As you might expect, we'll be here covering it all. I hate to steal a phrase from Nike, but they're right: basketball never stops. And with greener pastures on the horizon, I don't want it to.