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A match made in heaven: Maryland sports and Star Wars

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Testudo Times staff writers and contributors gather to talk men's basketball, milestones, Star Wars and hand out our grades for Maryland's fall sports.

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Testudo Times Roundtable

Week of 12/14

Q: Maryland men's basketball has the third-best overall record in the Big Ten behind No. 1 Michigan State and No. 9 Purdue, both of whom have perfect 11-0 starts. On a scale of 1-10, what is your level of confidence that Maryland will win the Big Ten?

Jake S: I'd say about a six. I think Michigan State caught some people by surprise. We knew they were good, but I don't think anyone thought they would be that good. Valentine looks poised to show that he's a lottery pick in the 2016 draft, and he's shown that he can carry a big load on his shoulders. Purdue has had a solid start, but I do believe Maryland is a better team. I think it will be a battle between UMD and MSU for the top spot, and I'd say the Terps have a decent shot at winning it.

Brian B: Five, and that is in no way a shot at Maryland. It's mid-December and how conference play will pan out at this point in time is pretty difficult to predict, particularly for an amatuer like me (where's Todd when I need him). Additionally, Michigan State has looked really good, and if an Izzo lead squad looks this good in December, I hate to say I'd be a little concerned to run into them later in the season. I am not completely sold on Purdue as their schedule has been moderately weak. Their S.O.S. sits at 198th according to CBS Sports, however, Maryland's S.O.S sits at 213th, but personally I think the Terps quality wins look better than Purdue's and I am not at all in any position to be biased.

Sammi S: Six. Michigan State is hot right now, and they came out of nowhere. Obviously being run by Valentine, the team was an unexpected team that has pulled in front of everyone. Purdue's rolling as well. However, I can assure you that these teams do not have the depth and talent that Maryland possesses. Maryland is the better of the teams, and though I believe they will eventually get past Purdue, there's no way they make it past Michigan State. Not with the way Michigan State is playing right now, and certainly not with the way Maryland is starting its games.

Justin; Five. As Brian said, at this point it's just too early too tell. The Terps have had their ups and downs in the first 11 games, but when they're on they are one of the top two or three teams in the country. Michigan State was supposed to be solid this season, but no one expected them to be the No.1 team in the country. Tom Izzo's teams are always well coached, and with a player as dangerous as Valentine Maryland will have to grind out a win in East Lansing if they want to win the Big Ten.

Andrew K.: I'm not worried about Purdue, but Sparty is a real challenge. So far Maryland has shown improvement as the season continues. Going on the assumption that Maryland has yet to play its best ball, I'll say a seven out of ten.

Noah: I'll say six out of ten. I'm surprised that so many people are saying that Michigan State came out of nowhere. They started the season in the top-15! Valentine is one of the best players in the country, and would have been my choice for preseason Big Ten Player of the Year. For those of you that aren't nervous about Purdue, you should be. The Boilermakers are first in ESPN's Basketball Power Index and second in Jeff Sagarin's computer rankings. They have one of the best front-courts in the country. The Terps have their work cut out for them, and might have to sweep their home-and-home with Purdue and road game at Michigan State to win the Big Ten.

Q: After what we saw from Diamond Stone last week, is 10 or more points and six or more rebounds a game something we should expect to see from him?

Jake S: I think it's something we can expect from him. The more he plays, the more comfortable he's getting. He has played in three relatively big games in his young collegiate career, and I think he's showing that he's slowly getting more comfortable. I don't think 10 and six is that much of a stretch for Stone, so I think it's something that definitely can be reached for the rest of the season.

Sammi S: Ah, Diamond Stone. He's a five-star recruit who's 6-foot-11 and loves to score. He thrives off of dunking the basketball; you can see it in his eyes. So yes, we can expect high-scoring affairs from Stone. He loves to score and once he has the ball in his hands, he's unstoppable.

Brian B: Those numbers are not unreasonably high expectations for Stone. However the Terps are reasonably deep in the front court, especially if Bender's minutes increase in the slightest, so I wouldn't expect to see Stone getting more than 20-25 minutes a game once conference play begins, and that could potentially limit his offensive output.

Justin: Stone will be able to dominate against Princeton and Marshall, but will need to step up his game once conference play begins. I think he will continue to improve, and if he gets his foul trouble in check he could be a force by the end of the season.

Andrew K.: I think so. The players seem comfortable dishing him the ball, and he is getting better on both ends of the court.

Noah: Sammi, I think unstoppable is a word we should reserve only for super-humans like Superman, the Incredible Hulk and Michael Jordan (and possibly Steph Curry but we'll have to wait for another couple of years). Brian raises a good point about a possible minutes limit, but I think he can reach those numbers as a per-game average because Maryland will probably be looking to establish him early in the game and then go to him as an alternative to Melo down the stretch.

Q: Who would you like to see as Maryland football's next offensive coordinator?

Jake S: I was as anti-Lane Kiffin as possible when his name got tossed into the ring for head coach. However, I do believe he'd make for an awesome offensive coordinator. How realistic is it? Not very, but he's got my vote if he decides to leave Alabama to come to College Park. Maybe it's an enticing spot for him with Durkin being a defensive head coach. He'd likely have full control of the offense since none of the other coaches that have been hired are offensive-minded. Kiffin won't happen, but he has my support.

Brian B: Lane Kiffin would certainly be fun, I do not know if he would fit in much at Maryland considering his previous career stops, but who knows. Pep Hamilton I also think would be a fine hire. Heck I would not be 100% against Locksley as long as he is willing to relinquish the play calling duties to someone else.

Justin: Given his success as a coordinator, Kiffin would be a great hire. But I doubt he would want to leave Alabama, where he has the opportunity to coach some of the best talent in the country. An interesting thing to note is that Kiffin was only paid 680,000 dollars last year, compared to the nearly 900,000 dollars Maryland paid Mike Locksley.

Andrew K.: The Fridge? Oh well, one can dream.

Noah: Andrew going bold! I would like to see Pep Hamilton get hired. He has a great track record with his college quarterbacks in Luck and Hogan but he ran a pro-style offense under Harbaugh at Stanford. I think Maryland fans and boosters might want to see something more along the lines of a wide-open, spread offense.

Q: Maryland men's lacrosse had six players named preseason All-Americans by Inside Lacrosse. That is tied for the most by a single team in Division I. Does this make the Terps one of the favorites to win it all for the first time in over 40 years?

Jake S: I don't know enough about college lacrosse to make any predictions. That feat certainly says a lot about the team, so sure, pencil them in for the National Championship.

Sammi S: These players are some of the most talented in the nation, and let's face it, we're in Maryland. The lacrosse state. I would say, hey, it's a shot in the dark, but why not? They obviously have a core, so let's see it.

Brian B: I would not have guessed the Terps have not won a National Championship in Lacrosse in over forty years. I always learn so much from your questions Noah, and I thank you. Considering Maryland is always pretty good at men's lacrosse, and I myself have even spent some time watching them play in the Final Four on a few occasions in recent years, I would say their chances to win a National Championship this year are as good as any other team's in the nation.

Justin: John Tillman has done a great job reviving Maryland's lacrosse program since his arrival in College Park, and the Terps should once again be a national title contender. The team will be playing with a chip on their shoulder after falling in the Final Four and National Championship the past two seasons.

Andrew K.: The Terps will be at or near the top in terms of pre-season polls. But as history has taught us that doesn't equate with Maryland winning it all.

Noah: Much appreciated Brian. Another tidbit for you all: Maryland is 0-8 in national title games since they won their last national championship in 1975. The Terps bring back the returning national goalkeeper of the year and some of the pieces from last year's top-ranked scoring defense, but they've lost some crucial personnel on offense, defense and face-off. Charlie Raffa is going to be sorely missed. I think Maryland will need to make adjustments on offense in order to have a chance of winning their first national championship in more than four decades.

Q: Shatori Walker-Kimbrough became the 30th player in Maryland women's basketball history to record 1,000 career points. Her teammate, Brene Moseley, just became the 18th player in Maryland women's basketball history to record 300 career assists. Which milestone do you find more impressive?

Jake S: Walker-Kimbrough reaching 1,000 points is more impressive. She's only a junior. That's ridiculous. My knowledge of Maryland basketball history isn't strong enough for me to know the last player to accomplish that, but I'd like to think it doesn't happen all the time. She's reached 1,000 points through 10 games in her junior season. That's about as impressive as it gets.

Sammi S: Walker-Kimbrough. I mean, watching her game in and game out, she is amazing. She is fast, she can take over the game and she is always left alone. Her calmness and quickness combine to make her a lethal player on the court. While Moseley is outstanding, no one scores like Walker-Kimbrough, who just completely dominates the game.

Brian B: Terrell Stoglin reached 1,000 points in two seasons, and I don't think any Terps fan would hold him in particularly high regard, but I do not know if it is taboo to compare men's basketball to women's, so I will just leave it at that. Additionally, in this past decade, four Maryland Women's players have reached 2,000 career points, so Walker-Kimbrough certainly has some big shoes to fill. I do not want to take away from her accomplishment but, personally, I have always been more impressed with assists. It demonstrates a level of court awareness that not all players have. In some ways, it shows you're more concerned with the success of the team. Lastly, it requires your teammates to, you know, make their shots. Thus, reaching 300 career assists is inherently more difficult to do (as demonstrated by the fact that less people have accomplished it).

Justin: Walker-Kimbrough's accomplishment is more impressive. The way she has closed in on 1,000 points has been impressive, as she has been dominating games. Both Moseley and Walker-Kimbrough have been excellent in reaching their milestones, but Walker-Kimbrough has been more dominant.

Noah: Both of these young women's accomplishments are incredibly impressive. While Walker-Kimbrough has absolutely been the more dominant player, I will go with Brene Moseley and her 300 career assists in terms of impressiveness. She lost an entire season to a torn ACL and for her to come back the way she has is an incredible story and accomplishment in and of itself.

Q: Let's break up the sports with a little Star Wars. Star Wars: The Force Awakens is being released this week and could be the first movie in history to make $3 billion. Will it reach that titanic (pun intended) level?

Jake S: Absolutely. My roommate's probably planning on seeing it ten times over break so I'm sure he's not the only one.

Sammi S: I hate Disney. I hate that they purchased a fantastic movie franchise. I don't want it to break the record, but... it probably will with all these teens and their video games and such.

Brian B: Disney-Pixar gave me the Toy Story franchise, so I can't hate them, no matter how evil of a corporation they may or may not be. I'd say yes, even I plan on seeing it once the hype settles down a little, and I don't frequent the motion picture house too frequently.

Justin: I think it definitely will. The movie has already been hyped to insurmountable levels and JJ Abrams is a solid director, so people who originally didn't plan on seeing it will go and see it. The only way this movie doesn't break the record is if there's annoying dialogue about how much someone doesn't like  sand. I don't expect this movie to be coarse and rough, but it will be everywhere.

Noah: I'm going to say yes. I'll be going to see The Force Awakens on Christmas Day as I will be continuing my family's long and wonderful tradition of going to the movies and eating chinese food on Christmas. Speaking of chinese food, this movie doesn't get released in China until the first or second week of January. Once it does, we're going to see a huge boom in international sales that I think will push it over the top after a few weeks.

Q: Who is your favorite Star Wars character from the original trilogy and who is your favorite character from the three prequels?

Jake S: I must shamefully admit I never got into the Star Wars films. So I'll agree with Noah on this one, despite being the first one to enter into the roundtable.

Sammi S: R2-D2 for the win. He's just a little robot who likes to chill out and follow people around, and he just kind of sits there. So yeah, definitely R2-D2.

Brian B: I saw the original trilogy as a squeaky adolescent in the nineties, so I probably gravitated toward Luke (since he too was a squeaky adolescent), as an adult, perhaps Vader or Han. As for the three prequels, ummm.... Darth Maul was cool for those ten minutes...or whichever character wasn't an overt racial stereotype.

Justin: Most of the characters are EXTREMELY dull, but nothing screams bad-ass more than Samuel L. Jackson with a lightsaber so I'll take Mace Windu.

Noah: When you're talking original Star Wars trilogy, give me Han Solo. He got called a half-witted, scruffy-looking nerf herder. I can relate. When it comes to the prequels, I'm taking Yoda every time. A great choice I made.

Q: Since finals are here, let's hand out some grades. Maryland failed to win a national championship in the fall but did have a team that made the Elite Eight (men's soccer), upset ranked teams (men's soccer and volleyball) and won Big Ten titles (field hockey and men's soccer). How would you grade Maryland's fall sports season (cross-country, field hockey, men's and women's soccer, football and volleyball)?

Jake S: I'll go with a B-. Football and women's soccer bring the grade down for me, and, as I type this, I'm realizing a B- is fairly generous. However, men's soccer made a fantastic postseason run, won the Big Ten tournament title, and defeated top-ranked UCLA. That's pretty good. Field Hockey had a tremendous regular season but failed to make an NCAA Tournament run. Volleyball, my area of expertise, showed that there is a lot of potential. They improved their record from last season and defeated Ohio State, who was ranked No. 12 at the time. So, all things considered, I give Maryland fall sports a generous B-.

Sammi: I'm usually a conservative grader, but the initial grade is a C. However, there is a wild curve. The reason for the C is because football was horrendous, and volleyball struggled against Big Ten competition. Cross Country, on the other hand, made a little run (pun intended) and lifted the grade up a bit. With men's soccer and field hockey winning Big Ten titles and making an inspirational push, the grade is curved to a B. So sorry, Spitz, but a bit more generous than your B-.

Brian B: Football really brought down the class average on this one didn't they? B-, two out of three B1G titles ain't so bad.

Justin: Two Big Ten titles is solid, but football and women's soccer's disappointing seasons drop the grade to a C+.

Andrew K.: Two B1G titles is nice and worthy of a high grade. Normally football's dismal performance would have dropped the overall grade, but exorcising Edsall and the subsequent Durkin hire is a major grade booster. So I go with B+.

Noah: Football and women's soccer both had very disappointing seasons. Both finished with only one win in conference play. Volleyball improved both their overall wins and conference wins from a season ago. They're headed in the right direction and beat a ranked team for the first time in over five years. Cross Country was decent but not great. Field Hockey swept the Big Ten regular season and tournament titles but lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1990 (if I'm not mistaken, that is before all or almost all of us were born). Men's Soccer provided much of the highlights of the fall season, with their upset of top-ranked UCLA at Ludwig to their run to the Big Ten tournament title. Their exciting run to the Elite Eight made fans believe that this could finally be the year that they would exorcise their recent postseason demons. It ended in a painful shootout loss to second-seeded Clemson. Ultimately, this fall season was disappointing for most of Maryland's teams. The Terps were close to a B-, but I'm going to give them a C+.