The roster attrition is over, all three departures announced in one fell swoop, so in this fashion the 2014-15 season has officially begun for the Maryland men’s basketball team.
There is still the matter of hiring a new director of basketball operations and an assistant coach to replace Scott Spinelli, who is still engaged in “serious talks” with Boston College, according to an individual with knowledge of the situation. He is expected to be announced as the new coach no sooner than this weekend. But in terms of the actual on-court Terrapins, the roster won’t change much before the season begins, barring the addition of a fifth-year graduate transfer, someone for which the staff is still looking.
As the way-too-early preseason polls and watch lists trickle out, Maryland has generated some buzz. Despite losing a senior (Nick Faust), junior (Shaq Cleare) and sophomore (Roddy Peters), all of whom were on scholarship, the Terps welcome a five-man recruiting class ranked 8th by ESPN.com and 10th by 247sports.com. This, it would seem, has vaulted the Terps into the national spotlight, or at least at the base of it.
CBSSports.com tabbed Maryland among five teams that “will rise next season”:
The Terps should return to the NCAA Tournament. Maryland brings back everyone of significance and adds three high-level freshman: Romelo Trimble, Dion Wiley and Jared Nickens. The Terps should be strong in their first Big Ten season, considering their depth, talent and experience. Mark Turgeon returns a strong, seasoned backcourt in Seth Allen and Dez Wells — along with a veteran frontcourt of Jake Layman, Evan Smotrycz and Charles Mitchell.
ESPN.com, in a similar article, listed Maryland among its “risers,” though these were done before the transfers were announced:
Mark it down: Coach Mark Turgeon will get the Terps to the NCAA tournament next season. Dez Wells, Seth Allen, Evan Smotrycz, Roddy Peters and Charles Mitchell return to a team that was a disappointing 17-15 this season, but Maryland also will bring in a talented recruiting class that includes guards Romelo Trimble and Dion Wiley, as well as much-needed big man Trayvon Reed. There could be a couple of defections from the roster, but the Terps should have enough to go dancing in 2014-15.
ESPN’s Joe Lunardi, he of bracketology fame, listed Maryland as a No. 8 seed in his 2015 NCAA tournament projection. The New Jersey Star-Ledger has the Terps No. 17 overall, The Big Lead has them at No. 19 and RealGM has them at No. 21, with the boom-or-bust warning that, “If Mark Turgeon cannot turn Maryland into a winner now, he is not going to keep his job.” Both ESPN and SBNation listed Maryland among the crop of teams just outside the top 25.
Of course, this means nothing from a practical standpoint, but it’s clear the expectations are high for a Terps team coming off an embarrassing 17-15 season, in which they missed the NCAA tournament for the fourth straight year. They have not been ranked by the Associated Press since the final poll of 2009-10 and under Turgeon have only “received votes”.
What do you think about these rankings? Toss your thoughts into the comments.
Side note: The ACC Network put together a highlight package for Dez Wells and we didn’t have anywhere else to put it so…here: