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Testudo Times Roundtable: Meet the newbies, we assess men's basketball

Every week the staff of Testudo Times comes together and we discuss the most important questions surrounding the program!

This guy in blue looks really bored.
This guy in blue looks really bored.
Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Q: We'll probably have a more in-depth introduction to all the new writers, but just quickly introduce yourselves to the board!

FlaTerp: Well, I'm guessing I'm one of the older if not the oldest new contributors and I was there for the end of the Bob Wade era and the start of the Gary era. I'm a sports writer by trade and Terp fan (and now blogger!) just as a passion. Been reading and posting here for a few years and I'm stoked to try and add to it. I can already tell, based on the fine work of Doug and UMDTerps11, that I'm far from the smartest of the new guys.

Andrew: Hey all! You may remember me from such Testudo Times handles as "terps3030". I am a recent graduate from the Philip Merrill College of Journalism. Well, almost recent, I am graduating on Saturday. Besides that, I work as a board operator at Sirius/XM radio for live sports play-by-play. Originally from New York so besides the Terps I root for the Giants (bad season, good organization), the Mets (many bad seasons, hopefully getting better) and, most of all, the Knicks (if you follow me on Twitter you know they make me want to rip out my eyes and eat them). I'm don't have any real specialty like the stats and film guys, so look for me to post on a lot of different topics. I'm really excited to get going.

Lee: Hello! I'm a 2011 graduate from BSOS (Gov. and Politics). I'm from Maryland and went to my first football game when I was about 3 months old (so I'm told) and never looked back. I go to law school and work full time now, and because I already have nothing better to do, I wanted to write about my terps. Although I've never written about sports before I'll be helping with statistical analysis and helping out where I can..

UMDTerps11: Hey everyone. I also graduated from the journalism school, but in 2011. I grew up in Reading, Pa. so I can't say I was raised on the Terps like many of you. Naturally, I've got a lot of family and friend links to Penn State so I was probably more excited about the B1G move than most here. After I graduated, I bounced around between Virginia and Delaware before landing up in Connecticut. It cramps my Terps style a bit, but I still always make sure to make it down for at least one football and basketball game every year. I'll be the advanced stats guy so if anyone ever has any cool ideas, feel free to reach out.

Corey: Hey Guys! I graduated from The U in 2012 but don't hold that against me as both my parents went to Maryland and my allegiances are to the Terps. I was even forced to sit in a press box and video the Maryland at Miami basketball game while I was a manager for the Canes basketball team in fear of me cheering too loud when Terrell Stoglin sunk the game-tying three. I will be helping out with some of the social media stuff as well as giving my insight on all aspects of Terps basketball.

Q: We are about one-third of the way through the season, how much have your expectations changed for the men's team?

Brendan: I'm still of the belief they'll make the NCAA Tournament. Do I believe they'll make it to the second weekend like I originally thought? No. Hopefully the return of Seth Allen and the continued improvement of Roddy Peters can steady the ship and get the team back to or near our original expectations.

Pete: Slightly. The expectation is still NCAA Tournament or bust, and I think Maryland will have positive momentum heading into ACC play -- both with the return of Seth Allen and improved play from Roddy Peters at the point.

FlaTerp: I'm not optimistic anymore. The team is reminding me a little bit of last season's Virginia Tech squad (I know, sorry), which was thought of highly in the preseason and had some nice parts, but couldn't ever put it together at all.

Andrew: I'm right there with Pete. I was incredibly optimistic heading into the season and obviously some of that has been tempered. I still think this is a tournament team because they kinda have to be.

Lee: I severely underestimated the impact losing Alex Len would have on this team. The defense just isn't the same without an effective rim protector. The expectation is still NCAA Tournament or bust. The team HAS to make some noise in the conference now to meet expectations.

UMDTerps11: Unfortunately, a lot. Coming into the season, I expected the team to make the NCAA tournament fairly easily (probably 8-9 game). But that meant wins over Oregon State and George Washington. It's crazy to think how two games in a 30+ game schedule can change the entire season.

Todd: Still Final Four (but that would be the women's team). For the men's team, so many of my expectations were based on the comments and analyses of the other writers that perhaps they worked me into an overly excited frenzy about the squad's potential. Well maybe not a frenzy, exactly, but I think I've tamped down my level of preseason excitement.

Corey: Not very much. Prior to the season I believed this was a borderline NCAA team with the potential to make the Sweet Sixteen. It's hard to really judge just how big of an impact the Allen injury had on the team until he comes back. The committee usually factors in how good a team was a full strength when making their decisions. Hopefully with Seth coming back to the team in the next few weeks I still expect them to make the tourney.

Alex: They've probably dropped a little bit. This could still be a good team, but traditionally speaking, good teams don't lose home or neutral site games to Oregon State or George Washington. Good teams also usually have offensive identities and trustworthy rim-protectors, and these Terps have neither at the moment. There's still talent here, but there's also a long way to go before this is a sturdy tournament team, which was my expectation at the season's outset.

Q: What ultimately needs to happen for Maryland to make the NCAA Tournament?

Brendan: 12 wins in conference with one of them being over Duke, UNC or Syracuse. Less than 12 wins, they'll need to win two of those three.

Pete: They need to win a lot of ACC games -- preferably double digits, or close, with some marquee wins.

FlaTerp: Improved point guard play, which would in turn improve spacing, shot selection and ball defense. I'm hoping Seth Allen will help, but I also feel a little uncertain that he's any more of a true point than Roddy or Dez are. Why don't we recruit actual play-running, pass-first point guards?

Andrew: It will be difficult but it's not quite as hard as some might think. Getting Allen back, along with Roddy's development, Layman's improvement and Dez finding his groove should equate to a top 6-8 ACC team. I'm thinking 10 to 12 ACC wins with an upset or two, maybe one nice road win, should do it. Basically take last season and add road wins at BC (already done), at GT and at UVa. We don't have to be great to make the dance, just slightly better than last year.

Lee: 12-6 in the ACC

UMDTerps11: At least 10 conference wins, but probably more. The number ultimately depends on who we beat. If they can't get a win against Duke, Syracuse or UNC, I think the number jumps to 11 or maybe 12. The lack of marquee wins is going to be Maryland's biggest hole in their resume.

Todd: As the others have said, double digit ACC wins for sure and possibly a deep ACC Tournament run depending on the quality of their league wins.

Corey: 11-7 with 1 Top 25 win or 10-8 with 2 Top 25 wins. I know Syracuse is very good, but I see that Feb 24th game as a huge opportunity for the Terps. Syracuse will be coming off the Duke game 2 days prior and the Terps will have had 6 days off. Not having Duke or Carolina at home really hurts their chances to get a quality win at home, but perhaps Notre Dame or Pitt will come into Comcast ranked and the Terps can pull the upset. Anything less than 10 wins in the ACC and I see us out of the dance for the fourth year in a row.

Alex: 12 ACC wins, or maybe 10 or 11 depending on results at Chapel Hill and Duke.

Q: After our article on Maryland's best lineup, is anyone willing to go against the numbers and make an argument for a better lineup?

Brendan: I agree with Pete -- Peters-Wells-Layman-Smotrycz-Cleare. It's the best combination of offense and defense and with the maturation of Peters it will only improve. Basically, any lineup that has Wells/Layman/Smotrycz in it is fine with me.

Pete: My lineup, for now, would be Peters-Wells-Layman-Smotrycz-Cleare. I think the numbers will support that once that group gets some more playing time, but I think it's overall the best unit, especially against ACC competition.

Andrew: Ram-Lipinski-Susskind-Auslander-Barks, because it means we are up by 25. Seriously though, my favorite starting lineup, as of now, is Peters-Dez-Layman-Smotycz-Cleare. Mitchell thrives against backup big men so he should come off the bench. Here is my against the grain argument: when Seth comes back and is fully functional, he should start and Peters should come off the bench. I love the idea of Roddy using his quickness and penetrating ability in spurts and against backup guards, and I think it's a good idea to take some pressure off the freshman. You can still end the game with Seth AND Roddy if need be. Two PG lineups are all the rage in basketball these days.

Lee: Hard to argue with the numbers. I think the best 7 man rotation is: Peters, Wells, Layman, Smotrycz, Faust, Mitchell, and Cleare. The starting line up does not seem to matter when looking at the allocation of minutes played. The rotation in ACC play should depend on matchups with opponents, not the theoretical best 5 players.

UMDTerps11: Well, since my thoughts on the lineups are already known, I'll just reiterate what I said toward the end. The Terps have enough depth and the right set of players to press much more than they do, especially once Seth Allen returns. I understand the new rules make pressing a little more difficult, but a good press forces turnovers off timely double teams and traps, not random swipes at the ball.

Todd: I'll plead the fifth, here. I skimmed the article but didn't read it thoroughly because when it comes to statistical analysis I'm kind of like Robert Redford in his latest movie - lost at sea.

FlaTerp: We don't have a pure point guard so I'm not wild about any of these lineups. I'll pick Roddy at the 1 since he's young and needs to develop, and I'd pair him up with Wells, Layman, Smo and Cleare. But the bigs should get a quick hook between Cleare, Chuck and Graham. Defend the rim, don't clutter the floor, crash the boards, or get pulled.

Corey: Obviously everything depends on match-ups but I really like the Peters-Wells-Faust-Layman-Smotrycz lineup as anyone on the floor really has the ability to create their own shot. This lineup could be deadly in transition.

Alex: I think swapping Allen in for Peters will ultimately prove to make some sense once Seth is healthy, but you can't argue with the numbers to this point.

Q: Any big holiday plans?

Brendan: I'll have some free time, so mostly watching bowl games.

Pete: I'm in Texas right now, so yep! Maryland going to the Heart of Dallas Bowl would have been a nice holiday treat.

Andrew: Besides graduating college? Well, I'm Jewish so I am working Christmas eve to give some other people the night off. Then I am driving in the middle of the night to my girlfriend's parent's house in Hagerstown and spending Christmas day and the rest of the week there. Oh yeah, and watching Maryland beat up on Marshall. I might actually be going to the game, remains to be seen, but either way finishing the year with 8 wins and a bowl victory would be excellent.

Lee: Two families, two dinners - I love the holidays! Also looking forward to the Military bowl. I've only ever watched HS football and lacrosse at Navy-Marine Corps, so it should be interesting.

UMDTerps11: I only have Christmas Eve and Day off so it's a quick drive back to PA for a few days with the family before heading back to work.

Todd: Chinese food and a movie on Christmas.

Corey: Heading to bubbyville aka to Boca Raton, Florida to be with the family!

Alex: Watching Netflix, probably, and seeing friends and family.