Last year, we all knew about when basketball season was rolling back around. After all, Maryland was almost guaranteed to be pretty good, and it's not like the football team was doing...well, anything. Even the opportunity to not be awful was pretty attractive.
But now we have a semi-successful football team to distract us from what will almost always be really important around here: basketball. And it's back: the Terps debut their season tonight in an exhibition against the Florida Southern Mocs, a D-II team based in...uh, Southern Florida.
FSC (that's College, not University) was also exhibition fare for the reigning NCAA runners-up, falling to Butler earlier in the week 90-70. The game was closer than the score might indicate; the Mocs had a lead as far as six minutes in and were losing by just 8 at halftime.
The Mocs are currently without starting point guard and leading returning scorer Rion Rayfield, who's suffered two stress fractures during the preseason. Past that, there are starting guards (and brothers) Terry Jenkins and Brandon Jenkins, who are returning scorers #2 and #3, respectively. Brandon led the Mocs in scoring against Butler with 16.
As far as D-II teams go, FSC is pretty solid. They're #5 in at least one preseason poll, and I imagine most D-II teams would get blown out by Butler. The only big weakness I see, besides the lack of their starting point guard, is a dearth of height, as the tallest player is just 6-8.
Admittedly, it's not uncommon for games like this to be closer than they should be, thanks to a combination of rusty teams and a low sense of urgency. And we all know what they mean: nothing. Syracuse, after all, lost to Le Moyne College before being one of the best teams in basketball last year.
What will be more interesting to see, at least for me, is the presence that the freshmen play, particularly Pe'Shon Howard and Terrell Stoglin. The two have the potential to be starters by mid-season should either of the entrenched but unproven starters, Adrian Bowie and Cliff Tucker, fail to impress. Howard was supposed to be more "game ready"; Stoglin outplayed him in the scrimmage.
It's tomorrow at 8:00 at the Comcast Center. It's not televised, unfortunately, and the only place it'll be online is TerpsTV - a premium, pay-for service that's notorious for being inconsistent. If you have a subscription, dial it up and watch. If you don't, either go or wait for the recaps.