(Katherine Frey/The Washington Post)


Greetings for a special holiday edition of the Monday (now Wednesday for this week) Terps Mailbag, where you ask the questions and I answer. Simple as that.

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

Which of the big men minus Alex and James do you think will get the most playing time come ACC play? (@mrdanielgaray)

Interesting question, and very relevant right now. Even Len will need a breather during ACC time, and Coach Mark Turgeon is still hunting for consistency from both Charles Mitchell and Shaquille Cleare. With Maryland’s offense, which works inside-out with sharp ball rotation if the initial post-entry pass is denied, the “4” player is crucial, setting up on the opposite blocks and diving to the hoop if the “5” gets double-teamed.

“They have to play better,” Turgeon said after the Stony Brook game. “Charles started well … James just didn’t play well, to be honest with you. Made one shot, wasn’t very good defensively … He’s got to play better. Someone’s got to step up. Our 4 man, which tonight was Padgett, Charles, they weren’t very good, quite frankly.”

My guess is that Mitchell and Cleare continue to log minutes in the teens, maybe venturing into the 20s on a game-by-game basis, until they start stringing together some consistent performances. Padgett, for his part, had done very well before succumbing to a few defensive lapses versus the Seawolves, and had been a consistent paint presence for Maryland without much flash. He’ll still serve that role, but if the youngsters start playing to their potential, their minutes could be swapped.  

Who else do you think turge will pull for 2014? And do you think he’s done for 2013 with Dodd and roddy? (@CShook7)

Barring some sort of irresistible opportunity (e.g. Dez Wells), it looks like Turgeon will be done for 2013. Maryland graduates James Padgett and Logan Aronhalt and could lose Alex Len to the NBA Draft. So, worst-case scenario, the Terps need to replace three players from the current rotation. Damonte Dodd, Roddy Peters and Evan Smotrycz take care of that.

But based on how hard Turgeon and his assistants (Scot Spinelli, Bino Ranson and Dalonte Hill) hit the recruiting trail over exam week, the Terps are nowhere close to being done for 2014. They’ve already gotten Melo Trimble, a solid combo guard with a smooth shooting stroke, committed, but there’s a bevy of targets. In an ideal world, they’d pull in another guard to compliment Trimble (Phil Booth or Dion Wiley come to mind), then tack on a couple post players (Obi Enechionyia, Abdul-Malik Abu) and perhaps an elite wing (Dwayne Morgan). Of course, there’s always the long shot of landing Rashard Vaughn, too.

What do the Terps need to do to finish in the top 5 in the ACC? What will be the main reasons if they don’t do so well? (@nationalsreview)

A top-5 finish in the ACC is well within grasp for these Terrapins, but it’ll take some heightened consistency and toughness once conference play begins in January. Turgeon thought his team got out-muscled Friday against Stony Brook, which allowed the Seawolves to overcome a 20-point second-half deficit and move within striking distance of the upset. The Terps set a season-low with 11 turnovers that game, shot 50 percent from three-point range and played solid perimeter defense when the game was on the line, so clearly they’ve made some improvements since the Monmouth game, but those numbers will have to hover around those ranges to avoid any ACC letdowns.

Turgeon’s also still searching for some consistency out of his bench. Seth Allen followed up his turnover-prone effort versus Monmouth with a solid performance against Stony Brook, but both Cleare and Mitchell have some work to do for Turgeon to trust them with more minutes in higher-stakes games.

If the Terps don’t do so well in ACC play, it’ll be because they turned the ball over, struggling to work the offensive sets through Alex Len, and couldn’t shoot well from the outside to open up things in the middle.

Has anyone ever gotten to the bottom of Nick Faust’s curly W tattoo? (@DCSportsFanMike)

I have not, but will circle back with an answer as soon as possible. Hard-hitting investigative journalism, I know.

Hey Alex, you look like you are about 15. Are you sure you are a real WP reporter?  My question is, what impact, if any, do you think moving to the B1G will have on Maryland’s lacrosse and soccer programs?  Are there any programs that you think will get better because of the move? I’d have to think football but beyond that, not sure. Volleyball? Thanks. (Scott, via email) 

Yes, yes, I look like a child. Moving on…

My guess is that the Big Ten move won’t have much of an impact on those specific programs, at least from a competitive standpoint. Both are nationally competitive programs so attractive to recruits that it won’t really matter what conference the Terps are in. Men’s soccer Coach Sasho Cirovski, for instance, seems confident enough that his program’s reputation holds enough water to lure recruits based on prestige, not future opponents. Same goes for lacrosse.

Best performance in the #Terps holiday video? (@JackT144)

Tie between Alex Len, who gets the award for All-Around Hilarity (this might need to be upgraded to a lifetime achievement honor at some point this season) and Pe’Shon Howard, whose deadpan zingers on Charles Mitchell during the video’s outtakes deserve special recognition. 

But far be it from me. Decide for yourself.