Nov 27, 2012; Evanston, IL, USA; Northwestern Wildcats guard Drew Crawford (1) is defended by Maryland Terrapins center Alex Len (25) during the second half at Welsh-Ryan Arena. The Maryland Terrapins defeated the Northwestern Wildcats 77-57. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-US PRESSWIRE

Five Questions About Maryland Basketball

After watching the ACC/Big Ten challenge, how do you think Maryland will fare in a new conference?

Bohlin: It is tough to really gauge where Maryland will fit into the Big 10 Conference basketball wise in two years’ time as rosters and coaches seem to change rapidly nowadays. Also, despite their utter domination of Northwestern on Tuesday night, it would be hard to judge our Terps as well as the Big 10 Conference off of that one game. Was the Terrapins performance against the Wildcats encouraging? Absolutely, that was a quality road win over a well-coached team.

It will be interesting to see who Maryland is matched up with next year as a battle against one of the Big 10 heavyweights like Indiana, Ohio State, Michigan or Michigan State would be a much better judge as to where the Terrapins stand as we come closer to the move. If the Northwestern game was any indication, however, Maryland appears to be in good shape moving forward.

Willis: I’m in a similar camp as Mr. Bohlin in that I believe the Northwestern win, while being a solid road win, wasn’t the premier victory that the Terrapins could have used to establish themselves as a legitimate threat. The three point Kentucky loss was a loss, so I can’t count that in, but manhandling Northwestern in a game that probably could have been even worse if the Terrapins hadn’t begun the game with a plethora of turnovers in the first half was a statement. Before this game, Northwestern had aspirations of making the tournament, and I honestly believe they still can. That being said, they were bullied around and outrebounded severely against the Terps, and they’re expected to do well in the Big Ten this year.

If they do well in the Big Ten this year, then Maryland could probably fare even better. The slow, methodical, technically sound basketball in the Big Ten doesn’t always favor Maryland’s wide open style of play, but they should do just fine. The Terrapins should be in the top four teams in the Big Ten, from what I’ve seen. They will obviously have trouble with Indiana and Michigan (if those two schools continue to retain the talent they have had for awhile), as well as Michigan State based on the fact that Tom Izzo is an amazing coach, but they will do well. Provided the Terrapins recruit as they have been lately, they’ll be contending in the Big Ten for years to come.

Is it feasible that the Terrapins could go 12-1 heading into their first game against VT?

Bohlin: It is not only feasible; I would venture to say it is probable. If you take a look at the remaining out of conference schedule for the Terrapins it is littered with low major D1 programs, outside of this Sunday’s clash with the George Mason Patriots at the BB&T Classic. While the Patriots might test the Terrapins this weekend I am not sure they have the firepower to pull off the upset against the local power. Outside of George Mason there really isn’t one team left on the schedule, before the ACC opener against Virginia Tech, that scares me whatsoever. Take it to the bank right now; Maryland will be 12-1 going into conference play.

Willis: Assuming the Terrapins beat a weakened George Mason, it’s more than likely going to happen. Virginia Tech should be a tough challenge, but before that everything else is almost a pushover. That being said, historically Maryland is often at the receiving end of an upset game. In ’11 it was Iona and Illinois, in ’10 it was Temple, in ’09 it was William & Mary, and in ’08 it was Morgan State. Yes, different players and a different head coach may change those things, but that’s what Maryland has done historically. Could it happen again this year? It is possible, but it’s not probable.

Who has impressed the most on the Terrapins?

Bohlin: This is a tricky question as it is completely based upon my opinion, which isn’t always agreed with by the masses. I would guess that most Terrapins fans selection would be Alex Len, which is completely warranted by his play early on; unfortunately I expected this type of production out of the sophomore center so while I am pleased with his play I would not go as far as to say I am impressed.

My selection, which shouldn’t be overly surprising if you follow our twitter (@terpstationmd), is freshman big man Charles Mitchell. In only 17 minutes per game, as he is backing up starters Alex Len and James Padgett, Mitchell is averaging 6 points and 7 rebounds. That type of productivity on the glass in less than 20 minutes of game time is staggering and second to only Len who is averaging 9 rebounds per contest. Like I said before though, we expected this type of production out of Len and I know I can’t speak for every Maryland basketball fan but those who aren’t lying to themselves know they did not expect Charles Mitchell to be as key of a component as he has been thus far. As Mitchell’s body continues to develop and he gets deeper into the Terrapins strength and conditioning program he has the chance to be an absolute monster on the court.

Willis: The biggest surprise for me on the court would, as stated by Mr. Bohlin, be Charles Mitchell (even though I’m going to take shameless credit and say I called that). But a close second has to be Seth Allen for me. Allen was expected to come in and contribute right away, but I really didn’t expect him to be so darn good right away. He’s shooting 36% from long range and averaging 7 points and 3.5 assists in limited minutes. Those numbers I fully expect to get better as the season progresses as well, especially his scoring numbers.

The fact that he can shoot relatively well from deep and can also slash the lane with his quickness tells me that he is going to be a starter before long. He can only get better with experience, and his 3.5 assists coming off the bench tells me that he is a willing enough passer and some of Pe’Shon’s leadership ability has rubbed off on him. Coming off the bench, he is a scoring spark plug who fills in for Howard just fine, and that makes Maryland that much more dangerous.

Who has been the least impressive?

Bohlin: I wouldn’t go as far as to say that this player has been the least impressive Terrapin so far as the team, as a whole, has been fantastic up until this point but I will say that I was hoping for Nick Faust to be a more efficient offensive player as a sophomore. Nick is a pure scorer and one of Maryland’s best players when it comes to creating his own shot. We just need him to be more selective of which shots he should take and which he shouldn’t. Faust cannot continue to shoot 37% from the field if Maryland is going to make a serious run at the ACC this season; he simply needs to be better.

It started with the Kentucky game and some of the shots he fired up in Brooklyn. Turgeon appears to have reined him in a bit but the efficiency issue is still one that stands out to me. I’d love to see Faust utilize his athletic ability to get to the rim rather than settling for jump shots from the outside. If Faust focuses on that aspect of his game and is able to not only improve his shooting percentage but also get to the foul line more Maryland can be a very dangerous team.

Willis: Shaquille Cleare. One double-digit scoring game (10 points against a Georgia Southern team with no one over 6’6), no double-digit rebounding games, and only three blocks on the year (all of which came during one game against Morehead State and their nutjob of a coach). Maybe it was his name that had me thinking he was going to be a menacing big man, but instead he has sometimes looked a little lost out there.

He’s huge and has grown man strength, but I have yet to see him really take over a game as well as Charles Mitchell has. He oftentimes gets caught grappling with his man rather than focusing on being in the right place down low to grab a rebond, and despite his softer touch down low, he hasn’t scored a lot. I think he’s going to get a ton better and his offensive upside goes extremely well with Charles Mitchell’s defensive minded play, but for now Alex Len outshines him and limits his opportunities. He has to be more active on the defensive end for my money’s worth.

True or False: Alex Len a #1 overall pick?

Bohlin: Today? False.

Seven months from now when the NBA Draft takes place? Potentially true.

Alex Len has been a beast this season and, not shockingly, NBA scouts and draft analysts have taken notice of the Ukrainian big man. After starting off the season with a bang by outplaying consensus lottery pick Nerlens Noel by a wide margin at the Barclays Center Len has continued to dominate the opposition. In only 26 minutes per game Len is averaging over 15 PPG and 9 RPG, those are very impressive numbers when you take into consideration he has essentially only been playing three-fourths of Maryland’s games so far. As we get closer to league play I expect Turgeon to trim down his rotation a bit meaning more minutes for Len and the starters which should translate into even gaudier numbers. As of right now, Len seems to have firmly entrenched himself into the lottery conversation and if he keeps this pace up it is not out of the question to think he could find himself in contention to be the number one pick.

Willis: False.

He’s a lottery pick, to be sure, but I don’t know that he’s the number one pick. That’s not an indictment on his play as much as it is a criticism of how the draft works. Teams look for upside and freakish athleticism when drafting a number one player, with production coming second sometimes. That’s why Andre Drummond got picked over John Henson last year, and why Kwame Brown got drafted ahead of Pau Gasol. I’m not saying it’s right, but Nerlens Noel has been putting up numbers incredibly similar to Anthony Davis did his rookie year, and that means he may end up getting the nod in spite of getting abused by Len in their first game against one another.

Len is going to be a very good player in the NBA, I believe. His rebounding ability means he has a place in the league, as those numbers almost always translate well (with the exception of, like, Mike Beasley) at the next level. His soft touch on jumpers makes him an absolute nightmare for opposing big men at any level, and that’s why he will end up being a lottery pick. He’s also relatively strong and doesn’t have any issues with getting gritty down low. His adjusted statistics are godlike (24 points per game, 12 rebounds, and 4 blocks per 40 minutes), and I think NBA scouts will take that into account.

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