After transfers, Maryland basketball could struggle in first Big Ten season

May 5

Shaq Cleare is one of four Maryland basketball players to leave this offeseason. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

The Maryland men’s basketball team has had a tumultuous offseason, and it came to a head last week when guard Seth Allen announced he was leaving College Park, taking his 13.4 points per game with him. Allen joins guards Nick Faust and Roddy Peters and center Shaquille Cleare as players who have departed since the season ended.

Peters, who played just one season at Maryland, and Cleare, who played two, both were heralded recruits who failed to live up to lofty expectations. The loss of Peters could be addition by subtraction, as he was one of the worst players in the ACC last season, his 85 offensive rating the sixth-lowest in the conference. Faust, meanwhile, had grown unhappy with his role and decided to transfer to Oregon State, where he will have one season of eligibility remaining.

Allen, on the other hand, was Maryland’s best offensive player in 2013-14, even though he missed the start of the season with a broken foot. He had a 113.7 offensive rating, just narrowly edging out Dez Wells’s 113.2. Allen wasn’t much help on the defensive end, a team-worst 104.7, but his overall WinShares per 40 — I’m using this rather than actual WinShares because Allen missed the first 12 games — were second on the team at .143 (2.1 overall). Maryland will now have just  Wells and former walk-on Varun Ram returning at either guard position.

Here is how Maryland stacks up against the top of the Big Ten without the four players who have left the program.

School WinShares Avg. Off. Efficiency Avg. Def. Efficiency Recruiting Ranking
Michigan 11.2 113.1 106.2 33
Wisconsin 24.8 120 102.9 106
Michigan St. 15.6 114.1 100.8 47
Nebraska 14.5 104.4 100.1 87
Ohio St. 12.1 104.8 93.3 7
Iowa 19.3 117.7 101.6 68
Minnesota 15.6 107.4 101.1 67
Illinois 13.3 100.2 101.1 44
Maryland 12.7 101.3 99.9 11

Bold = best, Italic = worst

Maryland ranks seventh out of nine in the number of win shares returning. Their offense ranks right near the bottom of the top Big Ten teams, but their defense could be one of the best in the conference next season, as they are returning the second-best defensive unit.

Maryland is bouyed by a fantastic recruiting class that includes All-Met Player of the Year Melo Trimble at guard. Unfortunately, even with their great five-man class, they’ll still be lacking depth. A lot will be asked out of their freshmen.

Trimble is a talented guard, and likely would have started at point guard even if Allen remained on the team, but a lot of pressure will be riding on the shoulders of the McDonald’s all-American. Shooting guard Dion Wiley and small forward Jared Nickens likely would have seen spot minutes, but both of them are known as shooters, Nickens especially. Power forward Michael Cekovsky is a 7-foot athletic stretch four, while center Trayvon Reed is a project at center in the mold of current Maryland big man Damonte Dodd, who was more or less a non-factor as a freshman.

All this adds up to some trouble for the Terps in their first season in the Big Ten.

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