College basketball season is here!
Mayland starts the season Friday in Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum for somewhat of a road game against Stony Brook. The current home court of the Brooklyn Nets’ G-League affiliate, the Long Island Nets, will host the Terps and the Seawolves to kick off the 2017-18 campaign.
This is the fourth time these teams have matched up, with Maryland going 3-0 in the series thus far. The Terps beat the Seawolves in the Xfinity Center last season, 77-63, as part of its record-setting 20-2 start.
Now both teams are looking to replace their leading scorers, but Maryland seems more apt to do so.
Melo Trimble is no longer at Maryland running coach Mark Turgeon’s team. Hopefully that’s not news to you. The freshman trio that acted as his backup last season now takes the reigns of the offense, backed up by a couple newcomers and the rest of Maryland’s group of returners.
Stony Brook is moving on from graduated guard Lucas Woodhouse, who led the team in scoring, assists and three-point percentage with averages of 15.1 points and 5.1 assists a night and a 45.8 percent clip from beyond the arc. The Seawolves will also be without last season’s third-leading scorer, after Roland Nyama announced in March he’d pursue professional options after graduating early.
After ending last year with one-and-done efforts in both the conference and national tournament, the Terps get the season going Friday at 7 p.m. against Stony Brook on BTN plus.
Stony Brook Seawolves (0-0)
2016-17 record: 18-14, 12-4
Head coach Jeff Boals was hired in April 2016, after seven years as an assistant coach on Thad Matta’s staff at Ohio State. In his first season at the helm, he guided the Seawolves to a second place finish in the America East conference. This year, Boals brings in five new faces, with four freshman and a junior college transfer, and Stony Brook is expected to finish fourth in the conference.
Boals is credited with helping recruit NBA players Jared Sullinger and D’Angelo Russell to Ohio State, as well as the program’s steal leader Aaron Craft. Prior to his time in Columbus, Boals spent three seasons as Akron’s recruiting coordinator and post coach. He also spent time on the staff at Robert Morris, from 2004-06, and four seasons at Marshall from 1999-2003.
Players to know
Tyrell Sturdivant, senior, forward, 6’7, No. 12. He's Stony Brook’s top returning scorer and rebounder, and averaged 10.6 points and 5.4 boards a night last season. He was a third team all-conference selection last season, and will have to step up as a leader in Woodhouse’s absence.
Akwasi Yeboah, redshirt sophomore, guard/forward, 6’6, No. 15. Yeboah had the second highest-usage rate on the team as a redshirt freshman, and was named to the America East All-Rookie team. He averaged 9.5 points and 5.1 rebounds last season, and scored a team-high 12 points in this matchup last year.
UC Iroegbu , senior, guard, 6’, No. 1. Iroegbu had an okay season last year, but it will likely be between him and sophomore Michael Almonacy to take over the lead guard spot left vacant by Woodhouse. Iroegbu averaged 5.1 points and two rebounds last year, and will have to up his 22.9 percent three-point shooting clip to become a consistent threat for Boals.
Limiting and creating turnovers. In Boal’s first year, the Seawolves ranked in the top-15 in both turnover and steal percentage, according to KenPom. Stony Brook managed to finish with 10 or fewer turnovers in 20 games last season, and averaged around five steals a game. The turnover battle could be a deciding factor in this one.
Height. Size-wise, Stony Brook enters the year in a similar situation as last season’s Maryland team, with just one player over 6’8. Combine that with their poor field goal percentage last season—shooting just over 40 percent from the field, 330th in the nation—and the Seawolves could be in for a long day on the boards.
Three things to watch
- Bruno Fernando gets his first action. The player Turgeon described as a “6’10 Dez Wells” in his season-opening press conference will finally hit the floor Friday. After a high ankle sprain has held Fernando out of competition the past couple weeks, Maryland fans will finally see the much-hyped freshman.
- How does the offense get going? With Trimble dropping buckets in the G-League, the offense will have to run through Maryland’s trio of sophomores. Which sophomore takes the lead scoring role, though, will be a storyline to keep an eye throughout the season. Anthony Cowan and Kevin Huerter will have to set the tone in the backcourt, while tons of eyes will be on Justin Jackson, who was recently named to the Naismith Award watch list.
- What type of lineups does Mark Turgeon use? After struggling on the boards in recent years, Turgeon finally has a variety of players 6’7-6’9 that can play and defend multiple positions. The key to this season may very well be how Turgeon decides to use the versatility at his disposal.
Kenpom: Maryland, 77-66
Me: Maryland, 80-68