Welcome to The Sports Bank’s third annual college basketball season preview series. Two years we looked at 99 teams in 99 days. Last year, we were slightly more aggressive and expanded to 111 teams in 111 days and will do so again as we look ahead to the 2012-2013 season.
We will rank the 75 power conference teams and top 36 mid-majors in reverse power ranking order. We’ll break down rosters, transfers, incoming freshmen, non-conference schedules, and pick a player to watch for each team.
Mark Turgeon’s first year as Maryland Terrapins head coach, post-Gary Williams era, was met with struggles as most expected. Turgeon’s revamping of the roster means the Terps will once again be short-handed this season with only nine scholarship players eligible for the up-coming year.
Last Season: 8th, 6-10 in ACC, 17-15 overall
Predicted ACC Finish: 7th
Projected Depth Chart
F/C: Alex Len (So)/Shaquille Cleare (Fr)
PF: James Padgett (Sr)/Charles Mitchell (Fr)
G/F: Nick Faust (So)/Jake Layman (Fr)
SG: Logan Aronhalt (Sr)/Seth Allen (Fr)
PG: Pe’Shon Howard (Jr)
Gone: G-Terrell Stogin, G/F-Sean Mosley, C-Berend Weijs, G/F-Mychal Parker (transfer-Georgetown College), PF-Ashton Pankey (transfer-Manhattan)
Maryland must replace their top two scorers from a year ago in graduated Sean Mosley and Terrell Stoglin who left early for the NBA Draft. His journey to pro basketball was accelerated by the fact that he would have been suspended for season due to violating team athletic conduct code. The Terps also missed out on a pair of freshmen who likely would have contributed right away as well. 6’9 Damonte Dodd chose to attend prep school this season while Sam Cassell Jr. was ruled ineligible by the NCAA in a decision that outraged many including his father.
Those decisions along with the transfer of two roles players means the Terps only return four players from last season’s squad. The most intriguing of those is 7’1 Alex Len who has peaked the interest of many NBA squads. The Ukrainian big man sat out the first ten games of last season due to a NCAA ruling about his amateur status. Once he was able to suit up, he showed glimpses at times but still proved to very much be a work in progress.
Len’s size and length in the frontcourt will likely be joined by senior James Padgett who by process of elimination, will take on more of a leadership role this season. Padgett is an average player by high major Division One standards and figures to be pushed for playing time by freshmen Shaquille Cleare and Charles Mitchell. Both newcomers are a bit undersized but bring a ton of physicality inside which could nicely complement the still thin Len.
Versatile guard Pe’Shon Howard looks to be fully recovered after a pair of different injuries forced him to miss significant time last season which was ended by a torn ACL. Howard is by no means a big-time scorer and his decision-making is certainly questionable as he averaged 3.2 turnovers per game last year. As the only real option at the point for Turgeon, Howard must be more dependable in running the offense this season.
Swingman Nick Faust had a solid freshman campaign and is the team’s top returning scorer. He will need to take on more of an offensive mindset and have a breakout season for Maryland to make any real noise. The “free agent” addition of Logan Aronhalt who becomes immediately eligible after graduating from Albany will provide a needed shot in the arm offensively. Since Faust and Howard aren’t known as great shooters, Aronhalt’s ability to knock down outside shots will be vital for the Terps offense.
A pair of freshmen will be thrust into key roles off the bench. 6-8 Jake Layman brings some versatility to the small forward position and could also play some four if Turgeon chooses to utilize a smaller lineup. Seth Allen is a combo guard who is more of a scorer than distributor but will have to log some minutes at the one behind Howard.
The Terps also picked up a pair of key transfers in Xavier’s Dezmine Wells and Evan Smotrycz of Michigan. Both players must sit out this season but Wells likely would have been the go-to for the Musketeers had he not been dimissed from the program so he is a huge addition. Smotrycz will add an inside/outside dimension to the Maryland frontcourt in 2013-14.
Just like last season, Maryland enters the year with only nine scholarship players. An injury or suspension could prove costly once again. I expect the Terps to take a step forward this season but they are still at least a year away from being a true NCAA Tournament caliber team.
Player to Watch: Alex Len
Potential, potential, potential. With his combination of size and athleticism, Len has the makings of being a lottery pick one day. However, he needs to show off a more well-rounded offensive game while also proving he can handle banging down low before I’m ready to back up that theory. I don’t expect him to be a dominant big man quite yet but if he can show solid growth, he will be a tough match-up for most ACC opponents.
Key Non-Conference Games:
11/9 vs. Kentucky (in Brooklyn)
11/27 at Northwestern (Big Ten/ACC Challenge)
12/2 vs. George Mason (in Washington, D.C.)
OTHER 111 IN 111’S:
#70 Marshall Thundering Herd
#71 Iona Gaels
#72 Northwestern Wildcats
#73 Oklahoms State Cowboys
#74 Rutgers Scarlet Knights
#75 USC Trojans
#76 UConn Huskies
#77 Harvard Crimson
#78 Xavier Musketeers
#79 Ole Miss Rebels
#80 Clemson Tigers
#81 Oregon State Beavers
#82 Texas A&M Aggies
#83 Providence Friars
#84 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
#85 Oklahoma Sooners
#86 Lehigh Mountain Hawks
#87 Washington State Cougars
#88 Long Beach State 49ers
#89 Belmont Bruins
#90 Vanderbilt Commodores
#91 Dayton Flyers
#92 Houston Cougars
#93 UCF Knights
#94 Old Dominion Monarchs
#95 Oregon Ducks
#96 LSU Tigers
#97 South Carolina Gamecocks
#98 Seton Hall Pirates
#99 Georgia Bulldogs
#100 DePaul Blue Demons
#101 Boston College Eagles
#102 Penn State Nittany Lions
#103 Arizona State Sun Devils
#104 Virginia Tech Hokies
#105 Texas Tech Red Raiders
#106 Auburn Tigers
#107 Wake Forest Demon Deacons
#108 TCU Horned Frogs
#109 Mississippi State Bulldogs
#110 Utah Utes
#111 Nebraska Cornhuskers
David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank. He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities. David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu. He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft and the most accurate 2012 NBA Mock Draft on the internet (Yup, repeat champ… #humblebrag.)
You can follow him on Twitter at David_Kmiecik.Follow paulmbanks