Testudo Times Roundtable
Week of 11/23
Q: Maryland men's basketball had to come from behind to beat Rider. This certainly doesn't look like a top-five team out of the gate. What do you surmise is the reason that the Terps have struggled early on?
Brian B: Well, hopefully, part of the reason is that they are still trying to come together as a team. As we all know, most of the key contributors on this team still have very little experience playing with one another. Also, last year, Maryland surprised everyone with their success. This year the Terps are not going to sneak up on anybody, they all have to adjust their mentality and become more aware that now THEY are not the ones with the targets on their backs, they have to know that they are going to get the best efforts from everyone they play, whether it be Rider or Michigan State.
Todd: I think we all have to remember that there's simply a lot of parity in the man's game. As we've seen from early losses and close games other power teams have faced, the margin of error for the good tems can be fairly narrow. With that said, the evidence of Maryland's struggles becoming a pattern rather than an aberration, is slowly becoming a matter of some concern. Although I'm not someone who adheres to the adage about defense winning championships, I think sound defense is largely a reflection of a team's effort and the Terps have not been sound defensively.
Justin; I think Dion Wiley's injury has thrown them off more than people expected. Wiley was supposed to be the starting shooting guard and Turgeon has had to figure out who will take his minutes and roll in the offense. Also, I think with so many new faces on offense this team is still learning to play as a unit. I agree with Todd that Maryland's slow starts are starting to become a concern, but the reason they've been slow out the gate is sloppy play and too many turnovers, which can be corrected.
Andrew K.: I think that Diamond Stone's emergence as an elite center is slower in coming than all of us expected. This is particularly true on the defensive side of things. Plus, counting Stone there are three new starters this season. It takes time for players to gel. I'd be much more worried if the Terps played like this in January.
Noah: I don't think parity is the issue when it comes to games against Illinois State and Rider. Maryland has MUCH more talent and when you're ranked in the top-five in the country, you are expected to win easily. I think Maryland is struggling because they still need to gel on both ends of the floor and Diamond Stone isn't giving them the production that they might have hoped for. He isn't Jahlil Okafor, Ben Simmons or Anthony Bennett out of the gate. That's ok for right now but he needs to develop pretty quickly for Maryland to have a legitimate shot of making a deep NCAA Tournament run.
Q: How would you grade the Terps through their first few games?
Brian B: B+: Despite the fact that the Rider and Illinois State games may have induced more anxiety than many of us would have liked, the Terps are still 4-0 with a win over a Georgetown team whom is much better than their record indicates. However, if they continue to let ‘lesser' opponents hang around, it is going to cost them eventually. Please note that this answer was given before the Rhode Island game.
Todd: C+. I hovered between B- and C+ because, as I type this, Maryland is 4-0 after all. But, at this point, as early as it is in the season, Maryland has yet to show the ability to put a complete game together. Either the talent has been overhyped or the team is simply experiencing growing pains. In either event, as Brian wrote, if they don't coalesce into the team we've been led to believe they are, it's going to cost them eventually.
Justin: B. It hasn't been the breeze Maryland fans expected it to be, but this team is still 4-0. They have started slow in three of their first four games, but have also battled back and come out on top in those games. This team comes out knowing they will win, but just hasn't put together a dominant performance. As Todd and Brian both said, if this team keeps starting slow eventually it will come back to bite them.
Andrew K.: C+. They haven't lost, which you can't say for many top teams (North Carolina: I'm particularly pointing at you). The Terps get an A for the last five minutes of games, a D for the first 35 minutes.
Noah: B+. They have won all of their games but they don't look like a top-five team right now. Maryland continues to win close games but if you play with fire long enough, you're going to get burned.
Q: Maryland wrestling won three of their nine matches in a blowout loss to No. 2 Iowa. Is that something or nothing?
Brian B: I hate to be this guy, but not only am I completely ignorant to Maryland Wrestling, I am completely ignorant to wrestling as a sport overall. If I try to think about it in terms of other sports, I would say this has to be nothing. It's difficult to find silver linings in a "blowout loss".
Todd: I think you noted in your story that Maryland had a few wrestlers missing and forfeited a match (though I don't recall why). Not many teams that go into Iowa City are likely to fare particularly well and for Maryland, going in this early in the season is potentially more problematic. I'm marginally encouraged by the improvement from last season.
Justin: I don't know anything about Maryland wrestling or the sport in general, but after looking at last years result and seeing they lost 33-3 to Iowa I guess you can say winning three of the nine matches is an improvement.
Noah: This is a small something. Maryland lost all six of their matches by bonus points so that is really bad. However, two of the three wins came from freshmen and Maryland didn't have their best possible squad out on the mat. This is a tiny step in the right direction.
Q: Now to football! Brandon Ross' performance against Indiana was ______.
Brian B: Impressive, yet wasted.
Todd: The only fun thing to watch in that game.
Justin: The reason I stayed past halftime.
Andrew K.: The only thing that kept me from bashing in my tv.
Noah: Impressive and surprising. I didn't know he had it in him.
Q: On a scale of 1-10, how did Maryland handle Caleb Rowe?
Brian B: Well, that's a loaded question. 5? I suppose the perfect scenario would have had the Terps take Rowe out immediately at the first signs of a potential concussion.
Todd: I haven't read all the details beyond the headlines so I'm not positioned well to assess the issue. However, it seems to me that since Rowe took himself out of the game, give the abundance of caution with respect to concussion protocols, the grade should be about a three.
Justin: 3. It seems fishy that Rowe could remove himself from the game, even with the emphasis on concussion protocol across all levels of football. Rowe was initially diagnosed with "neck muscular soreness," which by itself should have led to his removal from the game.
Andrew K.: There's still some uncertainty about who knew what when. Right now I'd give a 3, but that could change if more information comes out.
Noah: I'm going to say 2. I don't think they handled it well at all when the concussed player is the one who has to remove himself from the game. Maryland potentially put him at risk and there are rules and protocols in place to make sure that doesn't happen. The coaching and medical staff failed Caleb Rowe on Saturday.
Q: Maryland staked themselves to a large early lead (21-3), but blew it by halftime (Indiana scored 27 unanswered points) and let the Hoosiers drop almost half a hundred on the them. Who does last week's game tell you more about, Maryland or Indiana?
Brian B: Maryland. Maryland football is just plain bad, dare I say one of the worst collegiate football teams in the country at the moment. There is no two ways about it. Brandon Ross ripped off a couple of huge touchdown runs, but other than that Maryland looked pretty incompetent in all facets of the game. Once Indiana got settled, they had their way with the Terps defense and probably could have put up a 70 burger if they had not stepped off the gas a bit in the second half.
Todd: Indiana was an underrated offensive team coming in and had the type of offense that gives Maryland trouble. I think I was more dismayed by Maryland's inability to respond and adjust once the game started going south.
Justin: Maryland. Indiana has one of the best offenses in the Big Ten, so the Terps would have had to put a lot of points on the board if they wanted to win Saturday. But after getting out to 21-3 lead, the offense fell apart besides a Brandon Ross touchdown run to start the third quarter. I know fans think Dwayne Haskins will be the Terps' knight in shining armor next season, but he needs more playmakers around him if Maryland is going to get back to a bowl game next season.
Andrew K.: Indiana. They could have folded up shop early, but methodically came back. On the road. The onside kick was a great call given how Maryland was lining up. Sudfeld impressed me quite a bit, and I'm not surprised that he's being considered as a possible 2nd or 3rd round draft pick. The Hoosiers scored more against the Maryland defense than any team not in the state of Ohio.
Noah: This game told me more about Maryland. Their inability to adjust and the defense, the supposed strength of this team for the past three or four weeks, got exposed on Senior Day. This was supposed to be a competitive game but by the end, it wasn't. Teams with a modicum of talent and heart don't let opponents go into their house and score 27 unanswered points in the first half after building an 18-point lead. They don't let teams drop almost 50 points on them when they are honoring the careers of their seniors. Last week's game told me that Maryland needs more talent and more heart.
Q: Would a win against Rutgers on Saturday mean anything to you? What about a loss?
Brian B: Since I do not need a college football game to validate my opinion that Maryland is superior to New Jersey...No, and no.
Todd: It means a second 10-loss season in five years and a balanced bookend to the Randy Edsall era.
Justin: At this point the result doesn't matter. This team has a ton of questions to answer before next season.
Andrew K.: A win would very slightly lessen the bad aftertaste of this season.
Noah: I will go one farther than Todd because a loss to Rutgers will make this the third 10-loss season in the last six years (2009-2010, 2011-2012 and this season). A win at the end of the season doesn't change what happened during the season. It doesn't change the outlook for the team or the offseason plan either. A win wouldn't mean much to me. A loss to Rutgers would be yet another disappointment that, all things being equal, I'd rather not endure.
Q: Will Maryland football win their season finale against Rutgers, and what will the final score be?
Brian B: I have not picked the Terps to win since the USF game, so let's change it up! Maryland wins 89-4!
Todd: Will this be the first week I make a real prediction? Nope.
Justin: No. Rutgers 41-24.
Andrew K.: Unfortunately I think Rutgers wins, 31-24, after Maryland leads at the end of the third quarter by 24-10.
Noah: Todd, you are as predictable as ever by failing to make a real prediction! This might be Kyle Flood's last game as the head coach at Rutgers. I think the Scarlet Knights will try very, very hard to send him off as a winner. I think Rutgers will beat Maryland, 31-21.