In this space we usually break down four things we learned from the previous week of Maryland basketball games. Sometimes it's difficult to find four new takeaways every two games because the team looks so similar week-to-week.
We've discussed ad nauseam the turnovers, the scarcity of movement on offense, the solid defensive play, and the lack of a point guard continuously throughout the season. Even in mid-February, all those characteristics still remain. After yesterday's disheartening loss at home to UVA, I was left with one major takeaway. It's the one thing I "learned" this week and the one thought I'll break down below.
1. Maybe this team just isn't very good.
At this point, you might be saying "Well, duh", but it really didn't hit me until yesterday. Maryland isn't a good basketball team right now. I don't have a lot of faith they will be by season's end either. How could anybody?
The problems we've touched on all year haven't improved significantly and new ones have emerged. In addition to the lack of consistent point guard play, stagnating offense (which, to be fair, has gotten better) and no team leader, the Terps have also struggled from the free throw line lately and their once-vaunted defense has been less impressive the last month.
The most disheartening thing isn't the losses themselves but that the team (on the surface, at least) doesn't seem to have gotten much better.
Does Maryland look better to you than they did a month ago? I honestly don't think so.
Moreover, which individual players have really improved this season? By my eyes, Len looks worse than he did the first month of the season. Pe'Shon's taken a puzzling step back. Faust hasn't found his groove and role on this team yet, (something I was sure would happen by now). Even Chuck and Shaq don't seem much better than they did a month ago. Now, Layman is much improved from the start of the season and you could say the same thing about Seth Allen. So it hasn't been a complete disappointment in the player development area. But you can't really say too many individuals look improved since the start of the season and that's troubling for a team full a freshmen with high ceilings.
It's impossible to say how much of the lack of development is on the coaching staff and how much is on the individual players themselves. I think it's fair to question Turgeon's use of rotations and the lack of consistency among lineups and playing time. That could very well be a major factor as to why guys haven't taken major steps forward and haven't settled into established roles.
At the same time, it seems unwise to place all of the blame on Turgeon. Here's a guy who helped put Deandre Jordan, Khris Middleton, and Donald Sloan in the league -- none of which were NBA-ready when they stepped on campus at Texas A&M. He knows basketball and he knows player development. It's the classic coach vs. players blame game (among us fans, not amongst the coaches and players themselves). All we can say for sure is that no Maryland fan is particularly happy right now.
Could Maryland really gel the next couple weeks, beat Duke and run off a bunch of wins? Sure. Crazier things have happened in Baltimore-DC sports alone in just the past year. But I'm not holding my breath.
It's mid-February. The Terps are 5-6 in ACC play. At the moment, they're most likely on the wrong side of the bubble. The jump we all expected the team to make by now hasn't happened. And after watching Maryland look outclassed at home against UVA, I don't think we're going to see a much-improved team until next season.
Frankly, that's about the only new thing I think I learned about MD basketball this past week.