Following Maryland's bow out of its final ACC tournament, the Terps and its fans knew there'd be little shot of an appearance in any postseason play. The NIT selection committee could not overlook the team's lack of quality wins and passed over on the close loss-ridden squad, much to the chagrin of many fans who eagerly looked forward to a fresh start in a new conference next season.
And a fresh start, the Terps will get, as in the weeks following the conclusion of the 2013-14 season, three scholarship players announced their intentions to transfer and Assistant Coach Scott Spinelli made the move north for a similar position with Boston College. Rumors of additional changes within the coaching staff exist, and-- with the way this offseason is starting-- it's anyone's guess who will be posing in the team photo come November.
There is plenty of excitement, however, with ESPN's eighth-ranked recruiting class headed for College Park this fall. The class features one five-star PG, two seven-footers, and a partridge in a pear tree with Melo Trimble, Trayvon Reed, Michael Cerkovsky, Dion Wiley, and Jared Nickens, respectively.
With so many question marks leading into next season, the Terps' first in the B1G, it's anyone's guess as to how Turgeon's team will perform.
OTE's DJ Carver and Eric Schulman, along with Testudo Times' Pete Volk, take their best reads into the red, white, black, and gold crystal ball to predict the future of Maryland men's basketball.
Who is your season MVP?
PV: This, I think, is an extraordinarily tough question, but I'm going to have to go with Seth Allen. He had the highest offensive rating on the team and improved dramatically from his freshman year (as well as significant improvement within the year). He handles the ball better, improved his already-dynamic shooting and is an impressive offensive weapon.
ES: I think Seth Allen, barring he stays injury-free, will bring tremendous stability to the team, but for Maryland's most valuable player this season, I have to look to the senior leader Dez Wells. While his field-goal percentage dropped below 50 percent this past season, Dez still remains the most explosive and reliable weapon. With a healthy Seth Allen on the court, Dez Wells will have the opportunity to more often play at his natural position and capitalize on his size and aggressiveness.
DJ: I have to agree with Pete on this one, Seth Allen would be my season MVP. Going into the season, I would of said Dez Wells without question, but his amazing ability to not show up in the first half and then dominate the second half was extremely frustrating. When Allen returned from injury, he brought some stability to the point, and gave the team another dynamic scorer who was able to go off for 20+ on any given night. He definitely showed he is going to be a dynamic player next year, and if Trimble moves right into the PG position, the thought of Allen and Wells on the wing with Trimble running the point is a scary thought for B1G defenses.
Which freshman, if any, do you think has the best chance to get into the lineup early on?
PV: I would be shocked if Melo Trimble was not the starting point guard in the Terps' first game as a Big Ten team. He's an incredible talent and fills a big void on the squad, and the coaches expect a lot of him.
ES: Recently, it's seemed like some of Maryland's lesser-rated recruits steal the spotlight. Three-star Terrell Stoglin excelled (when he wanted to), yet four-star Mychal Parker averaged only 4.3 points per game before transferring.Charles Mitchell, the 92nd-rated recruit in 2012 showed hustle is a hot commodity, while 53rd-rated Shaq Cleare struggled to stay on the court once conference play began. This year, however, I do not expect any surprises, and look to Melo Trimble as the most likely frosh to crack Turgeon's starting lineup at point guard. The first McDonald's All-American since Mike Jones (WHO?), Trimble possesses all the skills required to shine for Maryland.
DJ: I have to go with Melo Trimble as well. Maryland's arguably biggest need is a true point that can a team into sets, but also retain the ability to score. It has seemed the past two seasons that Allen has had to take the point because the other PG could not score (Pe'shon Howard, Roddy Peters). Melo should end that, with his amazing scoring ability on display during his senior year while throwing up more than a few triple doubles in the hardest league in the nation (WCAC). I will say though that for playing time, I could see Michael Cerkovsky grabbing a bunch of time in the front court if he is cleared to play from the amateurism issue he will face from the NCAA. A seven footer that can put the ball on the floor is a rare commodity.
What's your season prognosis for next year (postseason? NIT? Do the fans light Turgeon's seat on fire if there is no tournament?)
PV: I think Maryland makes the NCAA Tournament as a low single-digit seed (probably eight), showing that they can hang with the Big Ten teams. If they don't make the tournament, Mark Turgeon is in serious, serious trouble.
ES: Well on the wrong side of the bubble this past season, I'd like to think Maryland has what it takes to step over the line and celebrate come Selection Sunday 2015. In 2014, the Terps managed to squeak out a win against a top-5. They also collected a handful of paralyzing losses at the hands of superior teams otherwise known as "good losses." If Maryland can shock an elite team or two next season, which I think it can, and convert a few of its tough, good losses into more upset wins, Turgeon has a chance to breathe easy. If not, it's time for the few Maryland fans still defending Turgeon to do some re-evaluating.
DJ: I think that Maryland squeaks into the tournament as well. Where they get in? I'm not sure, as so much hinges on freshman contribution either at the point, or inside with Cerkovsky and/or Reed. If Maryland can get a solid contribution in at least one of those areas from the freshman, I think they make it in. At both? I could see as high as a 4 seed if they can figure out the offense. If they don't? Mark Turgeon may want to invest in some flame retardant suits, as fans are going to set that seat on fire as fast as the couches were on Route 1.
Where does Maryland finish in the B1G? When does ESPN cave and give us Duke in the B1G/ACC Challenge?
PV: Their final place in the conference? I'd say somewhere around fourth or fifth. For Duke and the B1G/ACC Challenge, as soon as Maryland is good enough to make than an enticing matchup.
ES: Duke and North Carolina once again will reload with talent through their pipelines of All-Americans, and Virginia manages to return a solid squad, too. Wait, Maryland isn't in the ACC anymore? Wisconsin, Michigan State, Michigan, Ohio State, and the other established powerhouses should float to the top of the conference, with Iowa, Indiana, Nebraska, and Minnesota garnering enough talent for consideration, too. I'd place Maryland somewhere along the B1G's second tier, good for sixth to eighth in the conference. As for a non-rivalry (don't worry, North Carolina) rematch with Duke, I don't think ACC commish John Swofford is looking to give the Terps any going-away presents in the near future.
DJ: Given all of the roster turnover in the B1G, Maryland is setup well for their first season. Are they going to win the B1G? No, I don't think it sets up that well. The team is going to be too young at key positions for it. I do think they have a shot at squeaking into the Top 3, but realistically finish anywhere from fourth through seventh. As for Duke, I think if Maryland can garner a Top 3-4 finish in the B1G, this becomes very enticing for ESPN to schedule in 2015. I do think that they will garner to K though if they schedule the matchup, scheduling it in Durham rather than College Park. Coach K won't let his team travel to, as he puts it, one of the worst places to play, that early in the OOC schedule.