Over the next several weeks, we'll be reviewing the season that was for Maryland basketball. Included in this review is, of course, player recaps, looking back at what they did and ahead at what the future holds. Today, we look at the Terrapin's most-productive player of the last year: Terrell Stoglin.
|2011 - Terrell Stoglin||32||32.7||6.9||16.7||41.3||2.8||7.4||38.4||5.0||6.3||78.7||0.5||2.9||3.4||1.9||2.2||0.7||0.1||2.1||21.6|
How we got here: This statement might raise some eyebrows, but for my money Terrell Stoglin is the most talented pure scorer Maryland has had in the past decade, and perhaps even longer.
That isn't meant to cover up Stoglin's faults, which are many - shot selection, distributing, and defense chief among them. Nor is it to say he's the best player of the last decade. It's only to point that which you probably already know: between Stoglin's shooting, handle, creativity, finishing ability - hell, basically just plain ol' ability - he has the potential to put the ball in the net in special, breathtaking ways, and unforeseen numbers. He's every bit as sensational as John Gilchrist, much more consistent, and at least twice as sane.
Again, he's not a perfect player. But when he's on the floor, I get the same feeling I had when Greivis Vasquez took to the court, or when Gilchrist was playing at his peak in that ACC Tournament, or even occasionally with Juan Dixon - though he was, of course, a very different player. You just never know what exactly he's capable of doing or of how high he can go.
There's much work to be done for Stoglin to reach his potential. But with the announcement of his return coming earlier this week, at least we'll be lucky enough to see just how close he can get. Hey, at least the ride will be entertaining.
Stoglin was known as a scorer in high school and proved it at the highest level in his freshman year. But when Gary Williams retired, Stoglin's future was a little uncertain. Stoglin is, in some respects, a quintessential Gary player: at his best in transition, a sizable chip on his shoulder, and requiring a long leash. (Gary, for all the casual fans who may've correctly thought him a hard-ass in many respects, was very willing to give guards free reign.) The same cannot be said for Mark Turgeon, the new coach who significantly slowed the Terrapins' pace and the former pass-first point who is particularly stringent with his guards.
Within weeks of taking the job, it seemed clear that the two had potential to butt heads. At the team's media day, Turgeon had no problems publicly lamenting Stoglin's score-first mentality and lax approach to defense. SLAM put it best: "Basically, it looked like a generic version of Allen Iverson playing for a non white-haired Bobby Knight." Stoglin didn't take the injured Pe`Shon Howard's place at the point like most expected, and was surprisingly benched for the opening game against UNC-Wilmington. By that point, it was a bit obvious: the two didn't quite see eye-to-eye.
Funny thing is, it didn't much seem to matter. With the exception of a poor game against Alabama, Stoglin was nearly unstoppable, scoring more than 20 points in seven of the first nine games and dropping upwards of 30 in wins over tournament-bound Colorado and Notre Dame. While the 30-point outings would happen less and less as the year went on, Stoglin still scored almost at will: he put up less than 20 only ten times on the year and finished the season as the ACC's leading scorer - and it wasn't particularly close.
Most fans realized along the way, though, that while Stoglin scored a lot of points, he also took a lot of shots. Like, "17 a game" a lot. He was in the single-digits in FGA only once all season (against Alabama) and even that fails to fully capture just how many shots he took, given that he was fouled so much (averaging 7 free throw attempts a game). And what's worse, most of those shots were outside the rhythm of the offense - 25-foot jumpers with 20 left on the shot clock were not surprising. He is, to be nice, a volume scorer.
Unless the player in question is named Fredette, Iverson, or Durant, those shots are usually pretty harmful. So the question with Stoglin became whether or not he'd be willing to play within the offense, and whether or not he'd be as effective once he did. This is still yet to be answered in entirety, but there was an interesting, far-spread change in the way Stoglin played once Howard returned to the lineup, a change that perhaps bodes well for the future.
One of the few imperfect ways "in the offense" shots can be quantified is to look at the percentage of Stoglin's made baskets that were assisted upon. It's not a great method - it doesn't account well for games like the Alabama game, where he didn't make a single field goal - but unless someone wants to go back and watch every single game this year (and I don't), it's decent enough.**
And in the nine games before Howard returned to the floor, only 19% of Stoglin's made baskets were assisted. In the 14 games Howard did play, that number jumped all the way up to 41%. And it seems that, to some extent, Stoglin probably is more efficient when playing within the offense. In games when his assisted percentage was at least 30%, he shoots 45% from the floor. When less than that, his shooting percentage falls to 38%. The disparity is bigger when you look at eFG%: 57% when assisted on at least 30% of his baskets, only 43% otherwise.
Is the "Stoglin is better when inside the offense" thing obvious? Perhaps. But many people (including me earlier in the year) say stuff like "Stoglin needs the ball in his hands to be successful." And while that's sort-of true - I have neither the ability nor the desire to compare him on this mark with other high-level scorers to disprove it, at the least - this shows that he doesn't need to dominate the ball like he did early in the year to have success. He can be just fine within the rhythm of the offense, and in fact perhaps better.
Oh, and in case you're wondering: of the games against high-major competition in which less than 30% of Stoglin's baskets were assisted, Maryland was 2-10. When above 30%? 7-5.** Maryland needed Stoglin's points, because the supporting cast just wasn't good enough to make them up. But when he got them from others, he was much more deadly, and the Terrapins were a better team as a result.
For what it's worth, Stoglin actually didn't regress back into his old self entirely after Howard left the lineup again, at still about 39% of his baskets assisted in the final nine games; yet he still struggled, with an eFG% of only 45% over that final stretch. So why missing on these? Two potential explanations: he was likely tired and missing shots he normally made, which is likely, but also perhaps the absence of easy looks set up by Howard limited him as well.
I'm leaning toward the second explanation being fairly important, because Howard wasn't just setting the tempo - he was directly responsible for most of Stoglin's looks. Despite playing less than half of the season, Howard had more Stoglin assists than any other player on the team. When Howard was in, he wasn't just getting the ball into sets; he personally was getting the ball to Stoglin, and when he left it's likely that the resulting looks from Faust (or whomever) were of a lower quality. Not surprising, given that Faust isn't a pure point.
The moral of the story: when Stoglin played with a true point guard last year, he was a good bit better than when he didn't. Always deadly, but deadlier when there's someone to set him up.***
The Road Ahead: Well, it just got a lot more interesting, now that we have confirmation Stoglin is on his way back for at least one more year. Because now we not only get to watch more Stoglin and see Mark Turgeon's hair turn grayer by the minute, we also get to wonder what path Stoglin takes.
He came back to College Park presumably because he wants to improve his standing in the eyes of NBA scouts. And becoming a better version of what he is - that is, a volume scorer - isn't going to do that. Let's be honest: there are already a lot of better versions of Terrell Stoglin in the league, ones with more athleticism and height and in some cases defense. His scoring ability, which I consider elite, will only take him so far at that level.
But presenting himself as a smart, fill-it-up combo guard who can play the point without trouble? That just might do it. This is a world in which Scottie Reynolds doesn't get a contract in the league, so it's no guarantee Stoglin will no matter how much he improves. But changing his paradigm will likely be his best chance.
That probably means some minutes at the point for him, or at the very least attempts to refine his shot selection and efficiency. That's something that should come easily if Howard proves to be healthy, for all the reasons we pointed out above. Even if Howard for some reason ran into more problems, it's likely that Seth Allen and now Sam Cassell Jr. will be able to handle the minutes - not as well as Howard, perhaps, but more smoothly than Faust.
I have to say, though, his potential chase for history - if he were to stay all four years, of course - may just be the most interesting thing to watch. At 1068 career points, he's already in Maryland's top-50, just a few buckets behind Keith Gatlin. If he stays all four years and can score even just close to the rate he filled it last year, there's a likelihood he exits Maryland as their all-time leading scorer. It seems unlikely to get a fourth year out of him to begin with, and averaging around 20 points a game is a difficult task. He'll also need a good number of postseason games, which may or may not happen.
But it's not impossible, and if I were a betting man I'd probably be confident enough to wager on it. if he were to have another two years in his career - say, around 65 games - he'd need only average about 18.5 a game to catch Dixon. And while I'm sure that would be a bittersweet moment for some, it's something I wouldn't doubt Stoglin's ability to do in the least.
That's all looking too far ahead for the moment, though. More immediately, the question about Stoglin is how he fits into a team finally a full-strength with other options, and how he'll coexist with Mark Turgeon. If those answers are favorable, the Terrapins' comeback to relevance might be on it's way sooner than most expected.
*You could look at FGA instead of FGM, but that would be overly punitive for a missed shot. Looking at assisted baskets/FGA would mean that every missed field goal was the same as an unassisted (ie, out-of-the-offense) shot, and that's obviously not true. By doing assisted baskets/FGM instead, it's closer to assuming that missed field goals will be in and out of the offense at about the same rates as made field goals. Which isn't true, but which is a lot more likely than the alternative.
**Obviously, the eight wins against mid-majors - four on each - were excluded.
***If this didn't convince you that Maryland needs a true pass-first point guard, even if only to back up Howard, I don't know what will. That guy might be Allen, but whether he can do it or not the Terrapins better have somebody.