February 23, 2020

Maryland Basketball: Five ambitious, yet realistic goals for talented Terps in 2015-16

It is crazy to think that last year at this time, Mark Turgeon was on the hotseat after losing five important players to transfer including his very first recruit at Maryland, Seth Allen. Turgeon however knew during the Summer of 2014 that he had a “special group” with a combination of veteran leadership from the clutch Dez Wells and a number of talented freshmen headlined by Melo Trimble. This year even with the loss of Wells, the Terps are arguably the most talented team in the country, more than the likes of traditional powerhouses Duke and Kentucky. As a result, it will not be a surprise that a program picked to finish 10th in the Big Ten can make waves on the national level in March. Here are five optimistic but obtainable goals for this year’s Maryland Terrapins basketball squad.

Maryland will win their first conference regular season championship outright for the first time since 2002

Last year Wisconsin was the odds on favorite to win the Big Ten and although Maryland showed they are just as good as the Badgers on their Gold Rush night at Xfinity, their inconsistency early on in conference play did not allow them to seriously contend. This year it will be different as the Terps are by far the most talented team in the conference and all other foes are at least a tier below Maryland. Michigan State, Indiana, Wisconsin, Purdue, and Michigan will all be good, but none have the same caliber starting five or depth that the Terps do. Because of the impressive home court advantage Maryland has in College Park, the best chance for an upset would be on the road where The Terps will pay all of the aforementioned five NCAA tournament caliber programs. Even if you say Maryland drops three of the five, they will be the beneficiary of those same middle level clubs beating up on each other’s conference records.

The Terps will advance to the Elite Eight and host a regional in the DMV area

Even though many think Maryland has a great chance of bringing back a national championship to College Park, which is true, I am tempering my expectations a bit because of the lack of experience on the team. No one on the roster or coaching staff, except for Duke transfer Rasheed Sulaimon, has ever been to the Elite Eight so the likelihood of a relatively inexperienced postseason squad automatically being given Wooden Trophy is not the greatest. That being sad, we all know what Kentucky does ever year by simply reloading their roster with freshmen recruits after the previous year’s crop have already moved on to the NBA. Talent means the most in college basketball especially when this year’s group is already so close knit as I can attest to. I think advancing to the Elite Eight and hosting a regional in the area, meaning they are a one or two seed, would constitute a successful season and anything beyond that will just be icing on the cake.

(Photo by: @_STAYMELO)

(Photo by: @_STAYMELO)

Melo Trimble and Jake Layman will be named to the Big Ten All-Conference First Team

Well they both were already been named to the preseason conference team, so this goal is one of the most realistic of the bunch. To me Jake Layman will step up into the void left by Dez Wells, the primary offensive option off the ball, a great defender, and a stat sheet filler. Although you might think that there will be a lot of talent overshadowing the Massachusetts native again as Dez did last year, I think Turgeon has learned how to get his lengthy forward involved. For Trimble, there is not much to say. The Upper Marlboro native averaged 16 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists a game last year while shooting a casual 41.2 percent from beyond the arc. This year with so many more weapons around him, including an elite pick-and-roll big man in Diamond Stone, his scoring potential and assists might skyrocket. It would honestly not surprise me if Robert Carter Jr. or Stone sneak into a first team selection, but Melo and “Jake from State Farm” are near locks.

You will be able to count the number of Maryland’s losses on one hand

Maryland was good last year, but if you remember back did you realize that they were seven losses good? That had a little bit to do with a weak non-conference schedule, which ended up coming back to bite them come Selection Sunday, but this year they are easily a more complete team. Except for a date with former ACC rival UNC, first in the USA Today’s Coaches Poll, in Chapel Hill, expect Maryland to be favored in every single one of their games during the regular season. I do not expect a Kentucky shot at perfection because there will be hiccups along the way, but I think a four or five loss season is more than likely. Ain’t it a great time to be a Terps fan?

Mark Turgeon will follow in the footsteps of Lefty Driesel and Gary Williams by shaping a dynasty in College Park

Isn’t it just laughable to think Turgeon was more worried about his job security than Randy Edsall a bit over a year ago? I think Turgeon is not only going to cash in with a contract extension in the near future, but also on the recruiting trail after a successful year. Yes many Maryland fans might be worried that the starting five of Trimble, Sulaimon, Layman, Carter, and Stone will all be gone next year, but Terps will just pull a Kentucky and reload. With commits from two four-star guards already for 2016, and many more including highly touted Mario Kegler considering College Park, the program will be just fine next season. Envision a starting lineup of Jaylen BrantleyDion WileyJared NickensMichal Cekovsky, and Damonte Dodd. All of these players will be coming off the bench this year for Turgeon, but they all have starting potential as they continue to develop in practice against the greater talent of the current starting five. If Turgeon and his assistant coaches continue their impressive recruiting, Maryland will be relevant in the Big Ten for many years to come!

Lets enjoy the ride from November to March and hopefully have the season spill over to the first week of April when the Final Four will take place in Houston, Texas. With home games against Georgetown (after which SportsCenter will be hosted IN College Park), Wisconsin, and Michigan, there is plenty of time to be a part of the magic!

About Neil Dalal

Neil Dalal is a Staff Writer for District Sports Page covering the Redskins, Wizards, and Maryland Terrapins. Neil grew up in Silver Spring, MD and attends the University of Maryland. Neil has loved everything related to the Redskins, Wizards, Capitals, and Terrapins since he was eight years old. However, he favors the Orioles, as he started watching baseball before the Expos moved to DC. You can follow Neil on Twitter @NeilDalal96.

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