June and July are the quietest months of the year for most college sports. They fall between spring and fall practice for football programs. They mark the very end of baseball and softball seasons, coming right after lacrosse and field hockey seasons wrap up. Football and soccer are miles in the past – and miles in the future. This is the NCAA's DMZ, basically.
But that doesn't mean it's not worth talking about Maryland athletics. As such, we're starting up a new feature on this site, albeit one you've probably seen before a million times at outlets that cover different topics: a mailbag!
Most of what I'll write this year, especially during Maryland's football and basketball seasons, is dictated by the news as it comes in from Byrd Stadium and Xfinity Center. This column is a bit different, in that's it's driven by the audience. We've already solicited a few questions from Twitter, which you can find below. But, please, if there's anything you're interested in learning more about, ask it in the comments. I (or someone else) will get to as many as possible in the next few days.
My hope is that this becomes a regular fixture here, along with our podcast and other avenues to including as many people as possible in our content. That's the future, so we might as well make it the present. Let's hit it:
@testudotimes #TerpsMailbag do you see the shortened shot clock helping or hurting Turgeon's offense?— Sean Michael (@Sean_Michael_DC) June 18, 2015
This is a good question. Happily, it's one I talked about with a team staff member the other day. For anyone who's just catching up, the NCAA is officially implementing a five-second reduction in the shot clock time in college basketball for next season, from 35 seconds to 30. Scoring in men's games hit an almost historic low of 67.6 points last season, and this change will definitely pick up raw totals by increasing the number of possessions per team by several per game.
But what does it mean for Mark Turgeon's Terrapins? That's a lot less clear.
The staff member I spoke with made the case that it would help, because Maryland will have the weapons to create more offense in less time better than anyone it faces. With Melo Trimble, Rasheed Sulaimon, Robert Carter, Diamond Stone, Jake Layman and Jared Nickens, it's hard to argue on that front. Those guys are good enough to figure out how to put the ball in the hoop with less time on their hands than they're used to having. It's hard to imagine them being able to cobble together anything in 35 seconds that they couldn't generally work out in 30.
I agree this change should help Maryland, but on a slightly different level. Turgeon's offensive system has never, exactly, been Golden State Warriors-ish. The Terps have spent a lot of time rotating the ball around the perimeter and running simple slash-and-score or slash-and-kick schemes for the last three years. Despite their considerable talent over that timespan, the Terps have never been an incisive passing team that likes to probe defenses with telegraphed ball-sharing until a weak spot opens up. The Terps have a handful of excellent isolation players, a handful of excellent three-point shooters, and at least two post scoring threats. That's an instant-offense toolkit, for which fewer seconds shouldn't make a difference. It won't help, exactly, but it will hurt the offense less than it will hurt other teams'.
@alex_kirshner I'd love to hear something about our most forgotten man- Ivan Bender. Also chances of DJ Harvey/Quade Greene coming aboard.— DHB (@PolSportScoop) June 21, 2015
It's important to take evaluations from summer workouts with a grain of salt, because the only people who watch them are involved with the program and inclined to paint a happy picture. But Bender, from what I've heard, has looked smooth. The fun fact I've heard about Bender: He's highly ambidextrous and equally capable of scoring with either hand. The player is definitely skilled, or else Turgeon wouldn't have devoted five years' worth of a scholarship slot to him.
But math is math, and it remains the case that there aren't a lot of obvious minutes for Bender next season. He could dominate practices and create more chances for himself as time goes on, definitely. Then again, Carter and Stone are probably going to be stars, and Damonte Dodd and Michal Cekovsky have already been meaningful contributors on a No. 4-seeded NCAA Tournament team. That's a crowded frontcourt – and a tough neighborhood for anyone else trying to get playing time.
As for Green and Harvey, here's our editor Pete Volk on that.
Maryland seems to have a good chance with Harvey, currently the top prospect in the state for the class of 2017 and a top-ten national recruit. Arizona is a strong contender and Kentucky may enter the fray with an offer, but Maryland is building itself as a contender for these kind of major recruiting battles. Green is more up in the air, but all reports suggest he enjoyed his recent visit.
@alex_kirshner @testudotimes 2016 DB prospects?— #TheMovement (@_MarylandPride) June 21, 2015
Trevon Diggs is far and away the priority, and things appear to be trending in the right direction for Maryland there. The four-star Avalon prospect is set to announce July 4. Don Bosco (N.J.) corner Tyrone Hill and Phoebus (Va.) athlete Robbie Robinson are both possibilities, but it's more likely Maryland identifies other targets down the road like the recently committed Mike Viti.
@alex_kirshner @testudotimes where terrel stoglin is now— Benny (@bennyshafritz) June 21, 2015
Ah, the defining question of our time.
Stoglin, the onetime star Maryland guard, spent last season in Lebanon, with Sagesse in Lebanon. It was an eventful one, featuring one 74-point game and one very substantial basket-brawl. Per a report, Sagesse parted ways with Stoglin after the season, and he showed up at an agency pro day in California in May. What happens next is anyone's guess.
Again, if there are any questions in the comments, I'll get to them when it's possible.