Monday Terps Mailbag: ACC hoops, Randy Edsall’s recruiting and starting lineups

December 17, 2012

Welcome to the Monday Terps Mailbag, the second edition of a new weekly installment where you ask questions and I write down answers to those questions. A pretty simple formula, I’d say.

(Related note: Submit your questions via e-mail to alex.prewitt@washpost.com or on Twitter. Thanks, friends.)

Based on what you have seen this year, what do you think is the best-case scenario for the ACC portion of the season and postseason play? Also, worst case for both? Thank you. (Matt, via e-mail)

The Terrapins are on the precipice, and both Coach Mark Turgeon and his players seem to know that. However, they also seem pretty grounded in the knowledge that their recent play hasn’t lived up to Turgeon’s standards. I’m not too keen on predicting best- and worst-case scenarios, but this is certainly a talented bunch with the pieces necessary to make solid run through conference play, provided they become more consistent and less turnover-prone.

National analysts, the folks paid to predict these types of scenarios, seem pretty high on Maryland right now. Having Dez Wells eligible pushed the Terps past the bubble and into the projected NCAA tournament field, according to some, and their recent nine-game winning streak has only bolstered that perception. Maryland was voted sixth in the ACC preseason poll by both media members and coaches. Now it looks like the Terps are more in the top-four range entering the new year.

Chances Alex Len comes back for another year? (@haufsohard)

I’m getting the sense that this will be a popular question moving forward. Len obviously has remade himself into a tremendous NBA prospect this season, especially with the weight gained and heightened aggression in the paint and on the boards. But I’ve written this before, and I’ll do again: He absolutely loves it at Maryland, and if anything could entice him to return for another year in College Park, it’s the familiar, family-centric atmosphere within Comcast Center that’s only really been his home for less than two years. It might be a little jarring to send him out into the professional world just yet, but then again it’s still very early.

Of course, none of the Terrapins are even thinking about that, save Shaq Cleare, who just wants to make sure Len remembers him when the NBA comes calling.

“We don’t even think about what you’re asking and talking about,” Turgeon said last week. “That’s just a bunch of dummies who’s never played basketball and do all those mock drafts

“That’s all I think about, making Alex better. I don’t think about what it’ll lead to. He was a finesse guy when he got here, he still is, but he’s also a power guy. He still fights me on it. If he wants to get where the reason he came here, then he needs to do both. That’s the least of our concerns. I’m sure he looks at it, and I’ve heard that, we’ll see where we are at the end of the year and see where we stands.”

Will Maryland have a top 10 recruiting class next year? (@DinoFTW)

Assuming this relates to basketball, and assuming it’s asking about the class of 2014. By all accounts, Turgeon appears to be done with his class of 2013, settling on Damonte Dodd and Roddy Peters, unless a can’t-miss guy like Dez Wells appears late in the transfer game.

Now for the class of 2014, Turgeon recently got the ball rolling with a verbal commitment from O’Connell guard Melo Trimble, but the Terps have their hats thrown into plenty of rings that could very well create a top 10 class. They’re still hunting for big-name local guys like Dwayne Morgan, Dion Wiley, Phil Booth and Obi Enechionyia, too, which would create a well-rounded class. But getting Rashad Vaughn, the prized shooting guard from Minneapolis, would really tip the scales.

Pairing Trimble with any number of the aforementioned local players would give Turgeon a solid backbone and back court. Add Vaughn to the mix? Well, Mark, you’ll really have outdone yourself then. 

My football question: who does the #Terps need to recruit and sign to make them a contender next year? (@BigBen613)

How is Randy Edsall doing in football recruiting and are the #Terps bowling next year? Does Edsall need to go to a bowl to keep his job? (@BmoreJose24)

I’ll take these together. Football recruiting isn’t quite like basketball, where you can plug-and-chug with impact freshmen at will. Sure, every so often a Stefon Diggs will come along, but it’s not a matter of simply signing a few players to mold yourself into a “contender.”

Edsall’s recruiting class, at least according to rankings, is considered to be in the middle of the ACC pack, but he’s still done a good job keeping top talent local. Deon Long tore up the junior college record book at Iowa Western Community College this season and will fit in nicely into Maryland’s receiver rotation, while Derwin Gray could challenge for playing time along the offensive line.

Had the injury bug not devastated the Terps this season, they probably would have wound up bowl-eligible, so the pieces are certainly in place for a postseason run. Rebuilding the defense will be a top priority, especially with most impact players returning on the offense like Diggs, Wes Brown, Brandon Ross and Marcus Leak, not to mention quarterbacks C.J. Brown, Ricardo Young, Perry Hills and Caleb Rowe.

As for Edsall’s job status, missing a bowl for the third straight season, regardless of what injury-related excuses may surface, certainly wouldn’t bode well for him moving forward. By no means is it absolute in either direction, but stringing together a postseason run would obviously do wonders for Edsall’s job security.  

Come ACC play, what kind of starting lineup are you envisioning? #TerpsMailbag (@mrdanielgaray)

Nothing about the four freshmen’s play gives any indication that Turgeon will change things up once ACC play arrives. Save the blowouts over Maryland-Eastern Shore and South Carolina State, Turgeon has stuck with the same lineup: Pe’Shon Howard, Nick Faust, Dez Wells, Alex Len and James Padgett. They’ve been more consistent than the reserves, and by all accounts less maddening from Turgeon’s standpoint.

That being said, Cleare, Charles Mitchell, Seth Allen and Jake Layman could all see heightened playing time if they increase their consistency, but it’s hard to envision a scenario (barring injury) wherein Maryland’s current starting crop doesn’t get the nod against Virginia Tech on Jan. 5.

Where is that cool #PrewBag photoshop someone made? It must be seen! (@J_D_P)

You mean this? 


Alex Prewitt covers the Washington Capitals. Follow him on Twitter @alex_prewitt or email him at alex.prewitt@washpost.com.
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Alex Prewitt · December 16, 2012