As 2017 draws to a close, we have a little time to reflect on everything that has happened this past year.
It was an up-and-down year for Maryland sports, but with more positives than negatives. The Terps said goodbye to Melo Trimble, beat Texas to open football season and won a pair of national titles this past year. All the while, Maryland's coaches recruited at historic program levels.
It wasn't all aces, though. Coaching staffs and teams across campus have dealt with departures (via coach poaches or transfer), injuries derailed as many seasons as it could, and some teams just flat out fell short of expectations.
With the year nearly fully behind us, it's time to look at what Maryland did well and what it didn't.
Things that went well
Maryland is a state full of high school sports talents. Across sports and genders, the state is typically top five, in terms of recruited athletes. The importance, then, of recruiting well in state cannot be understated. Terps’ coaches across sports had a successful recruiting year.
Thanks to the traditional National Signing Day in February and the new early signing period in December, football’s head coach DJ Durkin actually signed two top-25 classes in 2017. The 2017 class he signed in February ranked No. 18 in the nation, Maryland’s highest-ranking class since 2004; 17 members of that class hailed from the DMV. Despite going 4-8, Durkin followed up with a class that’s currently No. 19 in the nation.
Both basketball coaches have begun preparing for the future. Mark Turgeon currently has the No. 11 recruiting class in 2018 with three recruits ranked in the class’ top 75. Local five-star forward Jalen “Sticks” Smith highlights that class, and four-star twins Makhi and Makhel Mitchell from Bishop McNamara have Turgeon’s 2019 class ranked in the top-5 a year out. Brenda Frese has also continued to pull in top recruits, adding three of ESPNW’s top 33 recruits, and her 2018 class is ranked No. 5 in the nation.
Now-Indiana volleyball coach Steve Aird recruited the best class in Maryland history. The six-person 2017 class was ranked No. 10 in the country, and with only two departing members, Aird added middle blocker Rainelle Jones as the only member of the 2018 class. Jones is ranked No. 32 in her class by Prep Volleyball. Both lacrosse teams also continued to pull in All-Americans.
Melo Trimble’s mic drop (and freshman contributors)
When Melo Trimble started his junior season, it was presumed it would only be a matter of time before he moved on. Trimble left the program in better shape than he found it, and Maryland fans’ last glimpse of him was a mic drop.
How does Melo Trimble do it every single time pic.twitter.com/FcrP53IXDC— Matt Ellentuck (@mellentuck) March 4, 2017
This has been a year of moving on from the Trimble era. It started when he combined with the freshman trio of Anthony Cowan, Kevin Huerter and Justin Jackson to start the 2016-17 season 20-2. The season didn’t end as well, but it marked Maryland’s best start.
That trio has now matured a year and welcomed Bruno Fernando and Darryl Morsell at the start of the current season. Mark Turgeon has gotten some good production out of his newcomers so far, as both Fernando and Morsell have started multiple games this season.
Beating Texas in football
Going into the 2017 season, very few projected Maryland to start the season with a win over then-No. 24 Texas. That’s exactly what happened, lining up one of the most memorable games in recent Maryland history.
The Terps walked away with a 51-41 win, and, though they walked away banged up, picked up their first win over a ranked opponent since 2011.
Winning **two** national championships
Lacrosse has long been a state sport, but 2017 was the year Maryland became a lacrosse school, and that's only partly a joke. Two national titles a day apart will do that.
Coach John Tillman guided men’s lacrosse to the top and snapped a 42 year championship drought. And what do you get for Cathy Reese, the coach that's done it all? An undefeated season and another trophy will do.
In the fall, field hockey also turned around its luck and found itself in the title game after getting revenge over Duke and Michigan in the tournament. Coach Missy Meharg was a goal away from Maryland going 3-for-3 in championship games last season, but the Terps exceeded expectations until the end.
Things that didn’t go so well
Despite two national titles and another runner-up finish, the postseason wasn’t all trophies for Maryland.
Trimble’s walk-off would actually be his last win in a Maryland uniform. The Terps had the benefit of the playing the Big Ten tournament down the road in Washington, D.C., but were washed out of the tournament’s first round by Northwestern and got knocked out of the NCAA Tournament by Xavier.
The women’s team had a shot to face the most beatable Connecticut team in years. Instead, No. 10-seed Oregon blew the Terps out in the Sweet 16, cutting the title hopes short. Men’s soccer also went from being nearly undefeated in the 2016 season, to finishing the 2017 year on a six-game losing streak.
Turnover is natural in college sports, but Maryland lost several prominent names that weren’t exactly expected to leave.
At the top level, there was some confusion about who, exactly was in charge. Midway through football season, it was reported Kevin Anderson was fired as athletic director, then he wasn't, then he was on a “sabbatical.” In his stead, Executive AD Damon Evans has done a solid job.
Two head coaches and two assistant coaches left for “greener” pastures. Baseball head coach John Szefc took a raise to go to Virginia Tech in June, and Steve Aird shocked almost everyone by making a lateral move to Indiana. Durkin will also have to add a couple pieces to his staff after losing offensive line coach Tyler Bowen to Penn State and Anthony Tucker to Central Florida.
Then there were the transfers. Four players transferred from women’s basketball following the season, headlined by star point guard Destiny Slocum, and men’s basketball also lost two players to transfer, though those were easier to mitigate.
Football beating Texas was dope, but the Terps lost Tyrrell Pigrome in the third quarter to what turned out to be a torn ACL, and Jesse Aniebonam went out earlier in the quarter with a fractured ankle. Five quarters later, Kasim Hill tore his ACL, and that was pretty much a wrap on the season.
Basketball season was supposed to change Maryland’s fortunes. Instead, two forwards were announced as out for the season within four days. First, it was Jackson with a torn labrum, then, to beat the New Year’s buzzer, Ivan Bender was diagnosed with a torn meniscus and shelved for the season as well.
Non-revenue sports were not immune to the injury bug either. Volleyball, men’s and women’s soccer all suffered hits to their health, so let’s hope Maryland leaves the worst of the injury woes in 2017.