I’m sure by now everyone has had enough of the robo-calls, the Vote Question 7 ads, and all the election schtick that is force-fed down the gullet of America once every four years. But alas, we have one more ballot to finish, which is why today I am going to cast my votes for this year’s Maryland Terrapins basketball team. It’s the only time I will endorse a player, and it’s all in good fun heading into this hopefully promising season of basketball. (I would have let you readers vote, but this is a dictatorship)
So here’s my ballot/predictions for awards this season for the Maryland Terrapins:
Commander in Chief (MVP): C Alex Len, Sophomore
This award is going to the person who leads this team the most of any player. They have all the player via their offensive play and leadership abilities both on and off the court. Without the Commander in Chief, the Union will falter.
Alex Len is in line to have a monster year, to be sure. Last season there were glimpses of greatness on the court, like when he started his season by scoring in double figures in his first four games (including a double-double against N.C. State). He was third in the ACC in blocks per game with 2.2, and when he was on the court Maryland was far more formidable team. And yet, Len was not the menace that everyone expected him to be. He struggled on the offensive end during ACC play, and always looked uncomfortable asserting himself on the court against a plethora of big guys the ACC had to offer.
In reality, that was just the adjustment period Len had to go through in becoming acclimated with a new style of basketball. I think he is over the hump this year, and I fully expect him and his pretty jumper to be unstoppable at the offensive end, while still managing to be a menace defensively. ACC basketball is all about finesse, and Len is a finesse player. If he gets it, which I think he will, then he could very well be the most dominant player in the conference given his skill set. Couple that with a newfound mean streak, and the Terrapins will rely on him night in and night out to be their MVP.
Vice President (Second in Command): PG Pe’Shon Howard, Junior
This position is filled by the person who will be second in command for the Terrapins. The guy who, when the POTUS falters or falls out, manages to step in and do just as admirable a job. For that, I elected Pe’Shon Howard over a more obvious choice like Nick Faust for a few reasons.
First, I think Pe’Shon is going to be a whole ‘nother animal this year provided he can stay healthy. He is the type of guard who will thrive with more weapons around him, and Howard now has a lot of them (Shaquille Cleare, Charles Mitchell, Len, Faust, Seth Allen, Aaronholt, and potentially Dez Wells) to work with. Howard displayed a basketball ability his freshman season that doesn’t just go away overnight. When health permits, Howard is a complete floor general who understands how to get all of his teammates involved offensively so that they all get the ball in their hands at the right times.
I think everyone on the team is going to be a beneficiary to his pass-first style of play (as opposed to Stoglin’s me-first mentality), and open shooters will be abound for this kid. Howard is not an offensive weapon himself if we’re being honest, but he knows how to find the ones that are. That includes Alex Len and Nick Faust, whom are going to have a lot more open looks with an actual passer on their side. For that reason, he gets my vote as the second in command.
Secretary of Defense (Defensive MVP, obviously): PF James Padgett, Senior
The Secretary of Defense is the player whose game overall causes serious issues for offensive players on the court, and he goes all out every night. For this award, I choose James Padgett.
If there’s one thing I love about James Padgett, it is that he gets better every year. He came to Maryland because Lance Stephenson, his then-teammate and best friend, was supposed to accompany him here. Instead, Lance bailed but Padgett stuck around through both regime change and a lack of playing time to become a very solid player for the Terrapins last season. Statistically he was the best rebounder on the team last year, and his offensive production increased to nearly 9 points a game. But where Padgett can potentially make his mark this year is at the defensive end.
Padgett can guard both the small forward and power forward positions, and his versatility and continued progression is expected to bolster the Terrapins defensively and make them tougher.
The Defeated Challenger: G Nick Faust, Junior
This award goes to the player who, despite his best efforts, fails to come up big for the Terrapins and struggles quite a bit in the season. I give this to Nick Faust, because I’m legitimately concerned about him not having the impact people think he will.
Look, Faust is a very talented player who has the size and the length, as well as the natural athletic ability, to be a prime time scorer in the ACC. He can score when he wants to because of his skill set, but the key phrase there is when he wants to. Faust has a tendency to do things that go against the grain, such as early in the shot clock jumpers, fadeaway jumpers, and not really passing the ball. Those things drive coaches crazy and stunt growth of both the team and the play. Those things end up relegating players to the bench, because when you can only do one thing and that one thing stops working, what can you really do to help the team?
That’s the case with Faust, whom I unfortunately think has a ceiling. But hopefully I am wrong about this one.