Well, that season was fun wasn’t it? I’m sure you all have the format down by now for the recaps, so here we go:
Maryland had a bad season last year, there was no other way to put it. Finishing 17-15 and not even invited to the Not-Invited-Tournament is pretty disheartening. Going into this season there was hope with Melo Trimble coming in along with a plethora of backcourt players, yet the Terrapins were picked to finish 10th in the preseason in the B1G. Personally, I had them finishing 4th – 6th in the conference with an outside chance of finishing in the Top 3 if everything went their way. How did it turn out?
Act I: Non-Conference Play
Maryland played in the CBE Hall of Fame Classic, where they won the entire thing along with knocking off Iowa State only two hours from their campus was a great start to the season. Maryland kept rolling, although losing Dez Wells right before the Virginia game in the B1G-ACC Tournament was disheartening and led to the lone loss of non-conference play. Maryland would bounce back to win the remainder of the non-conference slate while also taking down a decent Oklahoma State team at their own place.
Act II: Conference Play Part I
Maryland started conference play strong, defeating Michigan State in double overtime with some late game heroics by Dez Wells following arguably one of the worst first half’s in the conference this season. It was a resounding way to announce his return to the lineup after sitting out for a month with a sprained wrist and Terrapin fans rejoiced. Maryland would then go on to run through January with a 5-3 outing in the conference, losing to Illinois who played a fierce zone, losing big to Indiana at Assembly Hall where the Hoosiers couldn’t miss a three, to OSU in Columbus in similar blowout fashion. It wasn’t exactly a great month after starting the season strong, but it was still better than what everyone had expected from Maryland. Wells was working his way back into game shape and Melo Trimble was having a bit of a freshman slump where he went the entire OSU game without making a FG.
Act III: Conference Play Part II and the Postseason
After finishing off January on a sour note in Columbus, Maryland bounced back at home against Penn State, holding DJ Newbill in check as much as you could while forcing the rest of Penn State to try to win the game. Then Iowa happened, and another blowout loss. Maryland was now 3-3 in their last six games, and all three losses were blowouts. What was going on? It turned out that Iowa loss was just what Maryland needed, as they then rattled off eight straight wins to end the season, including a win at home against #5 Wisconsin to head into the B1G tournament. Maryland locked down the #2 seed in the B1G tournament and appeared to be in shape to lock up a #3 seed in the NCAAT with a decent showing and an outside shot at a two seed if they won it all.
Maryland won their first match of the B1G tournament, taking down Indiana for a second time this year and this time to knock them out of the B1G tournament. Per the usual of their late season run, Dez Wells and Melo Trimble put the team on their back in route to the victory with a combined 39 points between the two. Next up: MSU for a third time. Despite already beating MSU twice in the regular season, and once in very convincing fashion, the Tom Izzo coached team was not going to lose for a third time to the Terrapins. Maryland came out very strong against MSU, but then fell flat to end the half and never regained the momentum they had. MSU fought their way to victory in the second half, outscoring the Terrapins by 12 in the half alone and using that momentum to drive their way to the championship game where they would lose to eventual national title contender Wisconsin.
In the NCAAT, Maryland was dealt a harsh blow when they ended up with a four seed in the tournament in what was widely considered the toughest region in the tournament that year. Maryland beat a pesky Valparaiso team in the Round of 64 before losing to five seed WVU in the Round of 32. Melo Trimble went down multiple times in the WVU game before finally being held out of the remainder of the game with a concussion suffered by an accidental kick to the head by his own player. Without their primary ball handler (and arguably only ball handler), Maryland had no answer for the constant press defense that WVU brought to them, succumbing to the pressure they presented and losing 69-59.
The future is bright. Shiny one would say, like a Diamond. Maryland is bringing in five star Center Diamond Stone next season, who will pair up with Melo Trimble who returned after his freshman season as well as Jake Layman returning for his senior season of school. Combining that trio with transfer Robert Carter Jr. makes the Maryland squad next year very well rounded and one of the top teams going into the season. Maryland has been ranked anywhere from three to six in the way too early polls, but along with Indiana look like the team to beat next year. Maryland’s weakness last year, interior and PG depth, has now become their strength with Carter Jr. and Stone coming in, allowing former starter Damonte Dodd to come off the bench and Jake Layman to move to his more natural position at the SF position. Maryland has also brought in juco guard Jaylen Brantley, who should help immensely with someone to spell Melo Trimble when he needs a breather.