We're one exhibition down in Maryland basketball's preseason, already giving us a much better idea of what Mark Turgeon is going to throw out there this season -- especially in Evan Smotrycz's absence. The fourth-year head coach went with a three-guard set (something many Maryland fans have been clamoring for for some time now due to the lack of frontcourt depth), and it appeared to work well against San Francisco State, opening up shooting opportunities for the Terrapins' gluttony of guards.
With basketball seasons comes the opportunity to examine rotations -- talking starting lineups is fun and all, but that only goes so far. How many guys will see the court regularly? Who will be getting the most minutes? Let's try and figure that out, going position-by-position.
An aside: hat-tip to my dad for giving me the idea. In his spare time, he likes to organize the rosters of his two favorite teams (the Dodgers and Maryland basketball) into excel documents, looking at the present and future of the teams at each position.
Here's how I see the depth chart currently, with a healthy Smotrycz:
Since Maryland will be playing the bulk of the season (hopefully) with a healthy Smotrycz, I figure that's what's more pressing to talk about. During Smotrycz's absence, it looks like they may use a three-guard set, with Trimble, Wells, Pack,, Layman and Dodd as the likely starters (although Graham, Wiley and Nickens have opportunities to push for playing time).
Let's go position-by-position, again under the assumption of a fully healthy roster:
Starter: Damonte Dodd
Back-ups: Jon Graham, Michal Cekovsky
The big issue here is Dodd's ability to stay on the court -- the big man had issues with foul trouble as a freshman, but Maryland desperately needs him to be able to stay on the floor due to their lack of depth at the position. The Terrapins don't need much from their center this season, just someone who can alter shots (again, without fouling) on the inside, rebound adequately and not turn the ball over if it's passed inside to him.
Starter: Evan Smotrycz
Back-ups: Jon Graham, Jake Layman, Michal Cekovsky
When Smotrycz is healthy, he should be playing a lot of minutes on this team for the same reason as Dodd: a lack of frontcourt depth. The Michigan transfer struggled at times in his first year on the court with Maryland, but a more aggressive Jake Layman should go a long way towards freeing the offensive space he needs (as well as hopefully provide some help defense).
While Smotrycz is out, Layman will likely start here, but expect Graham to be the primary backup when Smotrycz returns, with Cekovsky playing limited minutes.
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Starter: Jake Layman
Back-ups: Dez Wells, Jared Nickens
Layman was one of the more surprising takeaways from the first exhibition. The junior was Maryland's best at holding on to the ball last season (in large part due to his conservative tendencies with the ball), but turned the ball over six times against San Francisco State. That could suggest a more aggressive swingman role for him, something that fits his skillset quite nicely (and much better than the stationary three-point shooter role, already partially occupied by Smotrycz).
Wells will likely spend quite a bit of time in this role while Smotrycz is out, and Nickens has an early opportunity to prove that his shooting stroke is consistent enough to warrant minutes.
Starter: Dez Wells
Back-ups: Richaud Pack, Dion Wiley, Jared Nickens, Melo Trimble
Wells remains the heart and soul of this team, and the senior will be a focal point of this offense as long as he is healthy. If he's playing at the three while Smotrycz is injured, however, that leaves a starting guard position open for the taking between Pack, Wiley and Nickens. Pack started the first exhibition game and looked very good, but all three showed an ability to make shots and put up points. As the senior of the group (and almost certainly the best ball-handler), the edge has to go to Pack.
Starter: Melo Trimble
Back-ups: Richaud Pack, Dez Wells, Dion Wiley, Varun Ram
As we saw against San Francisco State, Maryland expects Melo Trimble to play a lot this season. The only true point guard on the roster this side of Varun Ram, Trimble led the team in minutes and points, doing his best to make sure Terrapin fans can not temper their expectations of the young star. When Trimble needs a rest, we'll likely see Pack at the spot, although Wells has played the position in a pinch in the past and Wiley has the ability to do so if need be.
With a healthy team, it looks like Maryland's rotation will lie somewhere between seven and nine players. Along with the five starters, Richaud Pack and Jon Graham look to get the most playing time off the bench, with Dion Wiley and Jared Nickens both possessing the opportunity to get on the floor if they can consistently show they can be reliable options as freshmen. Down the line, Michal Cekovsky may play a role in the rotation as well, but early signs suggest patience with the young European.