Yesterday former Memphis guard and Baltimore native, Antonio Barton, decided against finishing his career at the University of Maryland and will be attending the University of Tennessee. After a month long recruitment process that was kept under wraps, Antonio announced yesterday via his brother, Will Barton, twitter account. Maryland was believed to be the leader throughout the process especially after his visit to College Park. However, Tennessee presented the younger Barton with more playing time for his final year.
The loss of Antonio Barton’s one year of eligibility hurts Maryland’s back court depth. Graduate student Logan Aronhalt is no longer eligible and rising senior Pe’Shon Howard is transferring to be close to home. Coach Mark Turgeon does have Roddy Peters, a 4 star combo guard from Suitland, MD, to add to the back court. But with Peters lack of experience, Antonio Barton was seen as the ideal fit to help Maryland for the 2013-2014 season. Maryland has an open scholarship, but adding an incoming freshman hurts future playing time with high profile recruits Coach Turgeon is looking to add.
While many believe that Coach Turgeon will still look to add another guard to the Maryland line-up, the Terrapins are not and should not view themselves in a desperate situation. There were many growing pains throughout the 2012-2013 season, but the young Terps appeared to have found themselves at the end of the season. They made a run to the ACC Semi-Finals and to the NIT Final Four. Along the way they beat Duke (with Ryan Kelly back), used a 5 guard line-up to knock off Denver, and were one of the few teams to beat Alabama in Tuscaloosa.
The loses of Alex Len and Pe’Shon Howard hurt the Terps, but both of their departures were expected. Maryland maintained their expected roster and coaching staff. We saw a good jump in player progression from Coach Turgeon’s first year to the second year, and with many players returning we can expect to see another jump as well from last year to this year. Most of the team is used to the routine, and what the staff expects of them. This should also help incoming freshmen Roddy Peters and Damonte Dodd transition easier. Last season Maryland was adding more players than they were returning, this year is the opposite. The locker room is not only more stable, but there is stronger leadership within the locker room. Players, such as, Nick Faust and Dez Wells, have shown the ability on the court to be leaders and players that are counted upon by the staff. Heading into last season, Maryland was searching for players to fill this role.
The loss of Logan Aronhalt and Pe’Shon Howard hurt Maryland’s depth, but their production can be made up for. Logan Aronhalt’s 43% three point shooting will be difficult to match, but his 6.0 PPG can be made up for. Michigan Transfer Evan Smotrycz is known for his ability to shoot from deep, and his high major experience should help him transition better to the ACC. Logan Aronhalt was a great addition for one year, but his experience at Albany didn’t have him completely ready to handle the ACC. While it is tough to place high expectations on a freshman, the role of replacing Pe’Shon Howard should not be too difficult for young Roddy Peters. It is has been well documented how much Pe’Shon Howard struggled last season, but Maryland was still able to be successful despite often playing 4 vs 5 on offense. Pe’Shon averaged 3.3 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 3.6 APG, 1.7 TPG, while shooting 29% FG and 24% 3FG. Asking Roddy Peters to surpass these figures shouldn’t be asking too much, even for a freshman.
Next season is a big season for Coach Mark Turgeon. Him and his staff have done a great job on the recruiting trail so far of selling their vision of Maryland basketball. Eventually there will need to be results to back up their plan. The addition of Antonio Barton would have helped, but he would not have been the savior of Maryland basketball. The added depth and experience he brought would have been great, but he wouldn’t have arrived on campus and transformed himself into an NBA caliber player averaging over 15 PPG in the ACC. The core of Maryland’s basketball team is still in place and the roles of the players are also more defined. The players know each better and they know how to play with one another. The coaching staff also has a better idea of how the players work together then they did before. Maryland is returning more players then adding players this year, while maintaining the same coaching staff, those are more important then a one year rental player. It is still May, but buckle up because this season will be another roller coaster ride for us Maryland fans.