Willard has described this year's team as "a major work in progress" on a few occasions. Why exactly is a team with three returning starters and three bench players (albeit low-use bench guys) from a 22-win NCAAT team, along with two 4-star freshmen (one a Top 30 player) not only a "major work in progress" but so bad in nearly every facet of the game through three games that one has to wonder if they've practiced at all and the Italy trip was actually just a tour of pizza joints around D.C.?
Obviously, the team would be better had Hart and Martinez stayed. Hart was a solid ack-of-all-trades guy, and Martinez provided a much-needed spark of energy and high-level athleticism off the bench. Nonetheless, neither guy is the caliber of player that losing them in the off-season should leave a team in shambles. Not to mention, roster turnover is a reality for every team in the portal era.
I imagine the Terps will get whipped Friday at Nova, but in terms of actual play, I can't imagine being any worse than the first three games. And I do expect that at some point they'll start playing better basketball.
Three games into the season with two key freshmen only three games into their college careers, I realize it's more than a bit presumptuous to predict a ceiling, but I feel like we know what we're going to get out of Young, Scott, and Reese for better or worse. Given where the team is now, I think winding up a bubble team is a best-case scenario, though I'd love if I'm underestimating them.
"Potential bubble team" is not only a far cry from preseason B1G picks but also far from fans' expectations. That would be more palatable if they seemed just a season away from making a giant leap, but with at least Young and Scott leaving, no recruits committed, and the low likelihood of reeling in big-time portal players, next year looks to have an even lower ceiling right now. Especially since Willard was his hire, I expect Evans to have more patience with him than the fanbase will, but if three years into the Willard era we're looking at one NCAAT trip, one NCAAT win, and no big recruiting wins outside DHS and Kaiser, then it'll be time to thank KW for his time and find a new coach.