Thanks for checking out this week's TT staff roundtable. There's a lot going on.
Week of January 18
Q: Let's start off the Roundtable with the Northwestern game. What were your initial thoughts on the game?
Brian Bohrer: It dawned on me as I walked by the 2002 national championship trophy on my way out of the Xfinity Center, dreading the cold walk back to my car, that Maryland almost scored as many points in overtime as they did in the ENTIRE second half. Maryland had a bit of a surge at the end of the first half, and I felt pretty comfortable about Maryland's chances as I finished off the last of my Route 4 IPA from Calvert Brewing Company...then the second half happened, and boy was that ugly. Thankfully Northwestern played just about as awful as Maryland did and the Terps were able to escape with a victory. Silver Lining: Maryland has showed the ability to win games at all tempos?
Carson Kenney: My initial thoughts were about how ugly a basketball game that was. It was one of those games where no matter what the score is, I felt confident that they would pull off a victory. While not every game is going to be like the Ohio State contest, I would feel better if they performed on a more consistent basis. We'll see what this team is really made of in the next few games. Someone somewhere said something to the tune of "This year's team could either win the national championship, or lose during the first weekend and neither result would be surprising." For better or worse, I wholeheartedly agree with that statement.
Todd Carton: I'll agree with Carson that it was ugly. I expected that in a way, but I didn't think it would be quite as ugly as it turned out to be. The Ohio State game lifted expectations and what we should have expected is, as I posted in a comment, a "regression to the mean." Maryland shot 52 percent from three against Ohio State, but the season has now given us a large enough sample to believe that they are the 38.5 percent long-range shooting team that they have been in the 18 games leading up to Tuesday night. Combine that night's 4-17 with Saturday's 11-21 and you land at 39.5 percent for the two games or close to the mean.
My other reason is the schedule. Maryland's coming off their best performance of the year, playing a middling Northwestern team just before they face the toughest back to back games remaining on their schedule. In the end, I'm happy they came out with the win - unlike Xavier and Kansas.
Andrew Kramer.: The Terps have a turnover problem that's been going on for more than just this season. Even though everybody and their uncle knows it, for some reason it continues, particularly in the first half of games this year. It's the team's Achilles heel. Then there's rebounding, or the lack thereof on Tuesday night. Third, this team can't seem to put together two solid games in a row. But my final impression was that Maryland won on a night when they were at their worst. Kudos to the perimeter defense that kept the Wildcat sharpshooters in check.
Thomas Kendziora: Basketball is weird. After the Terps scored 100 points against Ohio State, the two teams Tuesday night combined for only 96 points in regulation. Maryland escaped, but I thought the Terps had figured something out based on how the Ohio State game went. I was wrong, but a win is a win.
Drew Sorrells: The Terps simply couldn't find a way to put Northwestern away. Basketball is a game of runs; every time Maryland made a run, Northwestern answered. Regardless of how ugly it was to witness, it's a conference win against a possible tournament team. As we've seen with every top team around the country this year, wins don't come easy and teams can lose on any given night. I'll take this win.
Noah Niederhofer: This season has not been kind to ranked teams. I can't remember a season quite like this one where top-10 teams were losing with this kind of frequency. Maryland was lucky to escape with a win. They did plenty to lose the game but they had the best player on the court and in the end, that made the difference. This team has not put together consistent performances this season. If they don't play at a consistent level in March, this team might not even make the Sweet 16.
Q: What do you think is contributing to Maryland's consistent inconsistency this season?
Brian B: Shooting slumps and shooting surges. Perhaps putting too much trust in the long ball has contributed to their inconsistency, but after all, we are talking about college basketball here. Inconsistency is pretty much to be expected.
Carson: While this may not make sense, I think that if the team rebounded better, they would appear to be much more consistent. If Maryland comes close to out-rebounding Northwestern on the offensive boards Tuesday night, I don't think that is a close game. It's the little things that make teams great as opposed to just good. Right now, I think Maryland is somewhere in between those two.
Todd: I think we can attribute some of the early inconsistency to team chemistry. Although there's a lot of experience, they didn't have a lot of experience playing as a unit. I think we should be seeing less of that by now. I will agree with Brian B. that this is college athletics. We've seen it in field hockey (at least Noah and I have) over the past two seasons. Even the very talented Kentucky basketball teams of recent vintage have played a few head scratchers and Maryland's women's basketball team seems to have at least one or two of those every season, too.
Andrew K.: I wish I knew. It seems the Terps are successful in games where they get off to a good start and/or are successfully feeding the ball inside.
Thomas: There's really no set pecking order. Trimble is the Terps' best player, but there are four guys who at times seem like the second-best. When everyone goes cold, they all become passive. There were times Tuesday night where it looked like nobody wanted the ball. I think Diamond Stone has turned into the go-to guy when they need to get something, because size never slumps, but he was in foul trouble against Northwestern. When Trimble doesn't have it, the Terps don't have a plan in place.
Drew: Maryland had more change this offseason than arguably any team in the country. The new faces had to be incorporated with the roster that was already in place and it seems Maryland is still feeling its way out. An inconsistent January is not the end of the world, but that sort of play can't continue into the tail end of the season.
Noah: Drew, I would submit Kentucky and Duke as teams that underwent more change than Maryland. They're both doing pretty poorly so far this season. I think Maryland has integrated Sulaimon, Carter Jr. and Stone into the offense fairly well. One thing that Andrew K. touched on in the last question is the turnovers. When you have a lot of turnovers, especially early in games, you don't give yourself a chance to get off to a good start. When Maryland gets off to a good start, they seem to play really well. Turnovers are a huge problem for this team. Better rebounding would definitely help too.
Q: Let's revisit a question I asked last year. How confident are you on a scale of 1-10 that Maryland will win the Big Ten?
Brian B: 5, Maryland currently sits third in the B1G Ten, and I'd like to think that Indiana and Iowa will eventually lose some games. Maryland has a tough stretch of games ahead of them, so perhaps we should revisit this question then.
Carson: 9. I don't remember what I said previously, but I'm still very confident. Something in my gut says they will be special. I don't know why.
Todd: I'll go with six. I haven't seen Iowa play enough to know whether Maryland can actually beat them. This next stretch has four games that will go a long way to determining that - at MSU, Iowa at home, at OSU and home against Purdue. It could also come down to the last game of the year against Indiana in Bloomington.
Andrew K.: In terms of regular season champion, I'll say a 5. The Terps might lose two more, probably on the road against Purdue and Indiana. Indiana and Iowa both have tough roads too. Iowa has to come to College Park, while Indiana has to play Iowa twice and has to face Michigan State in East Lansing.
Thomas: 6. I think they're the most talented team, but they play to the level of their opponents too much.
Drew: While I want to go higher, the inconsistency that we mentioned won't let me go any higher than 6. Iowa is red hot, Michigan State has Tom Izzo, Purdue is dangerous, and Indiana hasn't lost a conference game yet. I'm confident, but I'm skeptical of my confidence.
Noah: I think I said seven before. I'll stick with that because while I don't think Purdue will be as big of a threat, Iowa and Indiana both seem really tough. Michigan and Michigan State won't completely go away either.
Q: Fill in the blanks. Melo Trimble was __________ last night, but I'd really like to see him ____________.
Brian B: Pretty good; get to the line more.
Carson: Adequate; takeover. I understand he is a point guard and his job is to help the rest of the team score (which he is doing), but at times it feels like he's passing up shots/plays because he's consciously thinking about passing. He is our MVP and while keeping the team involved is important and has played a huge part in the team's success, he's more than capable of taking over games. I don't think anyone would be upset with that.
Todd: Inconsistent but great in the overtime; be more assertive from the beginning of the game.
Andrew K.: The best player on the court. I'd really like to see him regain his shooting touch from deep.
Thomas: Good enough; realize when to take the game over.
Drew: Maryland's closer, bring his attack-first mentality on a more consistent basis.
Noah: Man, y'all crushed this question! My first answer is that Melo was ‘great when he needed to be'. My second answer is that I'd really like to see him ‘attack the basket more and get off to better starts in games'.
Q: Do you think Jake Layman's performance Tuesday night will silence his critics, and why or why not?
Brian B: Probably not, the average fan is going to look at the box score and see 8 points and 7 rebounds. He also missed a wide open look from three towards the end of the second half, but his effort on the defensive side of things (3 blocks, 3 steals) really impressed me Tuesday night.
Carson: Absolutely not. He stinks! He never shows up in big games! (Sarcasm voice.) Honestly, the thing that has impressed me the most about Layman this season is that he actually looks determined and I mean so more on the defensive end. I have seen him go all-out on the boards more often than not, and it seems like he's hustling more on defense in general. Not sure if there are any stats to back me up, but that's what it looks like to me.
Todd: I think Jake Layman could have a game where he scores 30 points, has 19 rebounds, 12 blocked shots, and seven assists with no turnovers and I think that would partially silence his critics for one game. Partially because people would be calling for him to have that stat line in every game. I simply don't think there's much Jake can do at this point to silence the people who want to find fault with his performance.
Andrew K.: No, because the expectation for Layman was that he'd be a more prolific scorer by his senior year. Plus, players can still drive by him relatively easily. Don't count me as a critic though, as I think he brings a grit and leadership that can't be conveyed via statistics.
Thomas: Nope. People like to hold firm opinions. 8 points and 7 boards won't be enough to make someone who thinks he sucks change their mind.
Drew: Jake Layman's critics are the kind of critics who don't watch games, take a look at the stat sheet and get mad when they don't see him putting up more points. NBA Draft Boards and preseason accolades have made him an easy target for critics, so one performance will not silence Jake Layman's critics. I'm not sure if any amount of great performances could silence his outspoken critics; while he's not a prolific scorer this year, he doesn't need to be. His role this year is based on a lot that doesn't show up on the stat sheet. That makes it really easy (and lazy) to criticize his play. Maybe one day they will be silenced, but that day does not appear to be soon.
Noah: Matt Ellentuck and I both see some Chandler Parsons in him. I think he showed great hustle and energy on a night where the Terps were lacking in both. Can he be exposed at times on defense? Yes. Could he be averaging 16 points and 8 rebounds a game this season? Maybe. I don't think Tuesday night will silence his critics, but anyone who watched that game knows that this guy has the goods.
Q: Let's do some more fill in the blanks for the Haskins news. When I heard that Dwayne Haskins and Keandre Jones were flipping their commitment to Ohio State, my initial reaction was ____________.
Brian B: Indifference, anyone surprised by that news hasn't been following Maryland football for too long.
Carson: Total and utter relief. It's been, at least recently, a foregone conclusion that Haskins was gone. Jones not so much, and his leaving will hurt us for sure. However, reading the comment section and seeing all the hypotheticals and what-ifs made me very anxious for this to all be over with. Next man up. Life marches forward. I've said it before, but one player is not going to turn this program around. However a great coaching staff might...
Todd: The same as it always is. "Verbal commitments are worth exactly the same as the paper they're not written on."
Andrew K.: O.K., this is not unexpected, let's move on.
Thomas: I stared out my bedroom window, fighting back tears, wondering why someone would build up the hopes of so many before ceremoniously abandoning them in the moment of truth. I ripped down my Dwayne Haskins poster, which had been given the coveted spot between Bryce Harper and the Wizards' big three from 2007. It was the worst day of my life. But then I snapped back to reality, remembering that the Haskins poster didn't exist. I remembered that, as a sane person, I can't get legitimately mad at a high school senior I've never met for going to a school I didn't want him to. I remembered that Ohio State is probably the right choice for Haskins if he wants to do things like compete for a national championship, become the best quarterback he can be, and prepare for a potential NFL career. And finally, I remembered that DJ Durkin and his army of recruiting fiends will be fine, and this is nothing more than a setback. A big-time quarterback will come soon, be it from the DMV, Florida, Mars or wherever. And when that happens, Terp fans everywhere shall rejoice.
Drew: Expected disappointment followed by self-anger for my blind optimism. The reality is that Haskins was not going to be the savior of Maryland football and once Locksley was gone, it was inevitable that he was gone as well. It's a step back, but no man whose name is not DJ Durkin will turn this program around. Did they not see us hang 100 on Ohio State last week, though?
Noah: I thoroughly enjoyed Thomas' answer. My initial reaction was just a tiny bit of disappointment. The disappointment had nothing to do with Haskins himself, but rather with the realization that Maryland football will probably not be a .500 team next season without him. Now it's time for some puns. If Mars is suddenly a ‘hot' recruiting bed, perhaps Durkin should try taking a look at the talent in ‘Jupiter' (Florida) and ‘Neptune' (Just dropped my first Veronica Mars reference ever!). You're welcome.
Q: Without Haskins and Jones, Maryland football is _________ going into next season.
Brian B: An enigma.
Carson: Just fine.
Todd: going to be an adventure.
Andrew K.: Be QB-challenged for another year.
Thomas: Not quite as good as they might have been.
Drew: Reliant on the arm of the old gunslinger Caleb Rowe once again. Yikes.
Noah: While Thomas is correct, I think the Terps lack game-changing talent at important positions on the field.
Q: What was your reaction to the fan reaction when they heard the news that Haskins and Jones were flipping? Did you think that Terps fans handled the news well, or were they over the top and over the line?
Brian B: Are we referring to reactions on social media, because if we are than I have no idea. Despite being 26 years of age, I have the twitter skills of a cadaver. I am sure some people overreacted, and probably dropped some harsh/offensive bombs, as this is usually the case on social media. That being said, fans have the right to be upset.
Carson: I admit that day was slow for me at work so I was on TT for a majority of the day, reading the comment sections. I think collectively, the TT community handled it well. I think that a majority of the reactions were more "how do we move on/where do we go from here" as opposed to wanting to chase him down with torch and pitchfork (although obviously a few were as such). I didn't look too deep into Twitter, so I don't know about that. On a scale from 1-Wisconsin, we were about a 4, which, in my opinion, is perfectly acceptable.
Todd: I felt that most of the really bad blood came out in the days leading up to the actual announcement. I don't follow the so-called social media platforms so my judgment only relates to what I read on Testudo Times. Overall, I thought the reaction was fairly tempered once it actually happened.
Andrew K.: I think if the switch was to a school outside the B1G the reaction would have been more muted. But to go to Pope Urban (probably the B1G's best candidate for Darth Vader) was a hard pill to swallow for some. However the reaction on social media was over the top. Social media unfortunately is conducive to knee-jerk reactions (some might say to take out "knee"), many times bringing out people's basest thoughts. Alex had a great article on Monday about why the vitriol was uncalled for.
Thomas: It was better than I expected. Sure, several people had expected the flips for a while, but because the guys basically joined the Dark Side, it stung a little more. I didn't read the TT comments, but most of the reactions I saw on Twitter ranged from "restrained" to "surprisingly calm." Nobody was crazy enough to become part of the story. Life rolls on.
Drew: As a whole, the fan base seemed to react as adequately as you can expect an entity of that size to in a situation like that. Nobody who had been paying attention to the story seemed surprised, so most of the backlash that I saw on Twitter was disappointed acceptance of the inevitable. While I'm sure some fans reacted poorly and crossed the line, social media is full of unavoidable trolls. The majority of the fan base handled themselves pretty well. It's unfair to blame a kid for changing his mind, but when you're in the public eye you're gonna receive criticism regardless of what you do so you can't gauge the entirety of the fan base off of aggressive outliers. I won't say that Urban Meyer's tweet didn't make my blood boil though...
Noah: I thought Maryland fans did a nice job of keeping things in perspective. This was and is his decision to make. Not ours. It's just one player, and the program will grow under Durkin and his new staff. I'm disappointed in the people on social media that think it's ok to say hurtful and inappropriate stuff to an 18-year old kid simply because he did what he wanted to do -- and what he thought was right -- instead of what they wanted him to do.
Q: Maryland hired Ray Leone, the head coach of women's soccer at Harvard, to the same position at Maryland. Leone has actually built two programs from scratch (Creighton and Berry College, where he won an NAIA championship), and was a long-time assistant at powerhouse Clemson before he took the reins as head coach in 2000. He left for Arizona State and became their all-time winningest coach in six years. Then he went to Harvard, where he made the Crimson the most consistent program in the Ivy League. Leone is a Severna Park native and is actually in their high school athletic hall of fame. Do you like the hire for Maryland?
Brian B: Well, given those credentials, why wouldn't I like the hire?
Carson: But does he know how to dab?
Todd: At a recent women's basketball game, I spoke with an Associate Athletic Director who was part of the search committee. He said the pool of applicants for this job was the best he's seen for any head coaching position at Maryland. Someone else involved with the search told me that Leone really wants to be here. So given those two factors, I'll say Go Terps!
Thomas: Based on all the positive information with which I have been presented, yes. This is a good hire, and I like when teams I root for make good hires.
Drew: I can't argue with the facts.
Noah: Carson raises an important question. I will ask him when I interview him. I like the hire. Leone seems to move from job to job, but Maryland is home for him. I think that if he finds success in College Park, this might be his last stop.
Q: Prediction time! The DMV is supposed to get blasted by a snowstorm this weekend. How much snow (in inches) will we get?
Brian B: Olly Williams, "IT GON' SNOW". Thankfully, I will have plenty of college hoops to tune into.
Carson: I live in Connecticut now so people view snow differently up here than at home (2 inches used to mean 2 days off from MCPS. Up here, schools won't close with 2 feet). But my dad has used words like "devastator" so I'll say 14 inches at home, 19 inches up here in CT.
Todd: More than 12 inches. Less than 24.
Andrew K.: I've developed an algorithm where if the forecast calls for between X and Y inches, it almost certainly will snow either < X or > Y. Wait a sec...did Todd just make a prediction in his response?
Thomas: By the power vested in me, I decline to comment on the basis that I am not allowed to give my prediction in centimeters.
Drew: Enough to result in an a stampede of Marylanders to their local Giant for supplies.
Noah: I'm going to go with "The Price is Right" strategy, so I'll say five inches of snow. I respect your right of refusal Thomas. And yes, he did Andrew. YES. HE. DID.