Testudo Times Roundtable
Week of 12/21
Q: Maryland men's basketball is back in the top-five of both the AP and Coaches poll. Is that something or nothing?
Todd: For me, nothing. We're 10 or 11 games into the season. What does the ranking mean and what's it worth? The poll is simply reactionary, and there's just far too much basketball left to play.
Bartley: Nothing for me, however, going higher in the polls can play tricks with players psychologically. Part of me would love to see them eventually at number one but part of me doesn't.
Brian B: It is certainly enjoyable and I certainly hope it reflects where they will be standing come March, but my hopes and reality often contradict one another. That being said, I will say it is slightly more than nothing, but not really something. The Terps have survived being a top-10 team better than some of their highly ranked brethren have thus far this season (I'm looking at you Gonzaga). At the very least it's something to hang their hat on as they head into conference play.
Jake S: Nothing. For the reason Todd said.
Noah: I think it is something because this season's early chaos in the rankings shows that there might not truly be one dominant team in the country. A number of teams will be in the mix for the top-ranking this season and Maryland has put themselves in position to take advantage.
Q: Maryland hired Arkansas State's offensive coordinator, Walt Bell, as their offensive coordinator. Bell's offense averaged a cool 40 points per game, good enough to place them in the top-15 in the country in scoring offense. What do you think of the hire?
Todd: Apparently, many consider him very good looking. If you're asking what I think of choosing him as a coach, plenty of people seem to be excited. I'll reserve my opinion and request you ask me in a year or so.
Brian B: Having your offense average 40 points primarily against Sun Belt competition is one thing, doing it in the Big Ten East will be another. Although it is a small sample size, Arkansas State averaged 13 points per game against Power-5 competition (USC and Mizzou). I'm stalling and playing the role of devil's advocate because I do not know what to think really. It's difficult to formulate an opinion based on speculation...and I just realized I'm essentially saying exactly what Todd said.
Jake S: It isn't Lane Kiffin, so I'm pretty disappointed. I know absolutely nothing about him so I'm gonna wait to express my opinions on the hire until October 8th of next year when Maryland plays Penn State.
Noah: I like the hire for a couple of reasons. This guy was on plenty of people's radars and Maryland got him. Second, the spread offense is an incredible weapon in college football today. It's how a team like Memphis managed to knock off a ferocious Ole Miss defense. Pace and tempo. It's exciting, fun to watch and we can expect to see Maryland put up a lot of points when they are clicking.
Q: Both Diamond Stone and Melo Trimble are projected to be late first-round draft picks in the 2016 NBA Draft by Draft Express and CBS Sports. Do you agree with that assessment and why?
Todd: For Stone, I'd say probably yes. I don't follow these ins and out too closely but it seems to me that the NBA drafts big men based largely on potential and Stone's had flashes where he's shown plenty of that. Guards seem to be a different story. Trimble looks to me like a low first-rounder at best.
Brian B: It is too early to tell with Stone, come back to me when we are well into the Big Ten schedule. I could see Trimble going anywhere in the 15-30 range.
Jake S: I think Stone can certainly creep more towards the top. I expect him to continue to grow as the season evolves, which will help his stock. For Melo, I believe it's an accurate assessment. I could see him slipping into the second round, but I can also see him climbing just outside of the lottery picks. It's so hard (and pointless) to try and make these predictions now -- but I enjoy it.
Noah: If Melo and Stone continue to have very good seasons, I think they can improve their draft stock somewhat. I have a hard time seeing Melo go in the lottery but if Stone averages 20 per game in March and Maryland makes a deep tournament run, he might go higher than some people expect.
Q: Jake Layman is currently averaging 11.3 points per game and 5.5 rebounds per game in an average of 29.3 minutes of action. He's also shooting a somewhat disappointing 36.2 percent from downtown. Should Maryland fans expect more from Layman, or is he providing efficient scoring and a little rebounding help?
Todd: First, I don't know why 36.2 from three point is "somewhat disappointing." He's a 35 percent career shooter coming into the season. True, he was just under 38 percent last year but I can't be too disappointed in 36.2 percent. Respecting the other part of your question, he's second in rebounding and third in scoring. As I noted above, the season's young and everybody's still figuring out their roles. For now, I'm fine with Jake's contributions.
Bartley: Jake has been playing better than last year so far and has been key in sharing the ball. One concern is when he faces Big Ten opponents. In the past he played well against non conference teams, but appears to struggle against conference teams. Hopefully he continues improving because he does have the talent.
Brian B: I think the name "Cupcake Jake" that I have seen floating around some TT threads recently is a little harsh. With all the talent around him, maybe some have began to hold him to a higher standard than they really should. As far as him playing "much better" against lesser competition, 1.) It would be expected that everyone on the team plays better against lesser competition and 2.) I think some may be having a selective memory here. I will go back to last year for reference. 15 at Iowa State, 14 vs, UVA, 21 at OKST, 23 vs. MSU, etc. Yes, he certainly had some games against good teams where we saw his production drop, but we shouldn't expect perfection from the man.
Jake S: He's on such a talented team now that the bar has been raised very high. Despite the common idea that he is lacking production, the team is still winning. Yes, they haven't gotten into conference play yet, but so far, I'm satisfied with his contributions. He's a veteran who knows how to get the job done. I have no reason to believe he won't figure it out and meet the lofty expectations established for every player on this Maryland squad.
Noah: Jake Layman is a very good basketball player. That being said, I don't think he has met my expectations for this season. This is a guy who could be a potential first-round draft pick. When Layman plays well (and I mean really well), this team is tough to beat. I haven't seen that Jake Layman yet this season and if he continues to disappear for stretches of games when he is on the floor, Maryland will be vulnerable against quality opponents.
Q: If you had a belated Chanukah/Christmas wish for Maryland athletics, what would it be?
Todd: Mine is an end to the 40 year men's lacrosse national championship drought and that everyone who complains about a coach who has gotten Maryland to the Final Four in four of his five years just shut the ____ up.
Brian B: ALL THE WINS.
Jake S: Maryland volleyball to the Final Four. Despite how unrealistic that would've been this past year, watching the Final Four on television last weekend was amazing and I'd love to attend if the Terps managed to find a way there.
Noah: I'd like to see Maryland pull off a double sweep of the national title in men's and women's basketball AND men's and women's lacrosse. Todd and I covered both the men and women's lacrosse national championship games in Philly last year. The men are 0-8 in national title games in the last 40 years. I'd like to see a different ending this Memorial Day weekend.
Q: The fall semester is in the books. What were your top three "Maryland moments" from the fall and what were your worst three "Maryland moments"?
Todd: Top three: (1) November 6: Volleyball beats Ohio State 3-0 for their first win over a ranked team in 5 seasons. (2) October 31 and November 8: Field hockey first repeats as B1G champs then wins their first conference tournament title. (3) Something that happened on October 12 that I think will be very beneficial in the long run for Maryland athletics.
Bottom three: (1) September 26: In a season filled with low moments the 45-6 loss at WVU still gives me indigestion. (2) December 4: Men's soccer loses in a shootout at Clemson in a "missed it by that much" chance to return to the College Cup. (3) November 14: Field hockey suffers a stunning loss in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Brian B: Top three: (1)Maryland over Georgetown, and SVP giving the Terps a free hour of advertising for their basketball program. (2) Unlike TODD, I won't be bashful. The firing of Randy Edsall was the most satisfying moment in a bleak football season. (3) Attending the Terps first basketball game against the Mount, I was absolutely shocked at the turn out. Expectations were all behind you!
Bottom three: (1) Leaving the Bowling Green game in the third quarter after waiting through an hour rain delay, call me a bad fan if you want, but I was one of about 1,200 people that made it that far. (2) The injury to Dion Wiley. It is tough to know how much impact he may have had on this team, but I certainly wish we got to find out. (3) The Baltimore Ravens...they technically play in Maryland.
Jake S: Top three: (1) Maryland volleyball defeating No. 12 Ohio State. (2) Maryland basketball defeating Georgetown in a thriller. (3) Maryland men's soccer beating UCLA in OT.
Bottom three: (1) Maryland basketball losing what would've been a statement game at UNC. (2) Maryland basketball opening its season the same night as volleyball defeated Ohio State. (3) The Bowling Green and West Virginia losses. Oy vey.
Noah: Top three: (1) Maryland volleyball sweeping No. 12 Ohio State at home for its first win over a ranked opponent in five years. The win is so significant for a program that is clearly on the rise. (2) Maryland beating Georgetown in a raucous Xfinity Center in the renewal of the Maryland-Georgetown rivalry. (3) The hiring of D.J. Durkin and the assembling of one of the best college football staffs in the country in just a matter of weeks.
Bottom three: (1) Field Hockey's first one-and-done in the NCAA Tournament since 1990. 1990!! (2) Men's soccer shootout loss to second-seeded Clemson, falling just short of the College Cup and continuing their recent streak of agonizing postseason losses. (3) Maryland football's blowout losses, especially West Virginia and Michigan. I grew up in SEC country and when I think "college football that's hard to watch and bad for my overall health and well-being", I think Maryland football.
Q: Maryland women's basketball is ranked sixth in the AP Poll (probably due to being ranked 59th in RPI) and fifth in the USA Today Coaches poll. The Terps will take on top-ranked and three-time defending national champion UConn in Madison Square Garden on Monday night. Both teams are undefeated and Maryland leads the country in scoring and rebounding margin. Who wins and why?
Todd: Seriously? UConn already has wins over three top-10 teams (ND, OSU, and FSU). While MD was beating UMES by 70, UConn beat LSU (albeit an average LSU team) by 40 and Breanna Stewart didn't dress for the game because of an injured ankle. Bottom line, Connecticut wins. They have better players and better coaching.
Bartley: Although my heart wants the Terps to win, I agree with Todd on the outcome. Maryland has scored a lot of points, but you really need to look at who they have played. It is still early, so hopefully the team just gets better and positions themselves well come tournament time.
Brian B: The way that UConn essentially dominates everybody else is almost baffling, and somewhat frustrating. UConn wins, probably easily, but hopefully not. I have no concrete reason as to why other than UConn is simply the better team. What's this? Not asking us for a score? For Shame! 98-72.
Jake S: I am extremely excited to (hopefully) be in attendance for this highly-anticipated contest. I've gotta go with UConn. Mark my words, Saniya Chong is a junior guard for UConn who is yet to get things going. I saw her drop 61 in a game in high school (Westchester County represent), and I believe it's only a matter of time before she gets loose and makes her mark on the collegiate scene. With that said, I believe Chong will carry the Huskies to a double-digit victory over the Terps. Looking forward to a great game, though.
Noah: UConn wins for a few reasons. They have the better players, the better coach and they'll be playing a de facto home game in the Garden. UConn's Moriah Jefferson will be the key to the game. The Huskies have already played and beaten some of the country's best this season. They should win this one by double digits. However, if Stewart isn't at or close to 100 percent, this one could go down to the wire.