After reportedly beating Villanova in a secret scrimmage on Sunday, the Terps will hold an open intrasquad scrimmage on Saturday at the Comast Center.
This year’s Maryland squad is one of extreme promise and has the potential to be very good. The Terps main losses are forward Alex Len, forward James Padgett, and guard Pe’Shon Howard. Maryland will miss Len’s rim-protecting ability the most, but has the pieces to replace the points that he provided on a nightly basis. Newcomers to the team are guard Roddy Peters and forward Damonte Dodd. Peters could have an immediate impact at the guard position.
With all that being said, here’s a few things that I’ll be watching for at Saturday’s scrimmage:
1.) Where is Roddy Peters and can he contribute right away?
It seems set in stone that sophomore guard Seth Allen will run the point to start off the season. However, the question has become: who will spell him? Dez Wells and Nick Faust shouldn’t be running the point besides in dire situations. Freshman Roddy Peters could be that guy. After coach Mark Turgeon and assistant coach Bino Ranson spent nearly two years chasing Andrew and Aaron Harrison and lost, they needed an immediate backup plan. That came in the form of Peters. The coaching staff did a quick turnaround on Peters and let it be known that he was their guy.
Peters is a very underrated player that could turn some heads as a freshman. He can shoot the ball very well for a point guard. One of his biggest strengths is being a strong defender. He has the ability to shadow an opposing player and step into the passing Lane and steal the basketball away. Best of all, the Suitland product can finish. Whether it’s a slam dunk or a pretty layup, Peters isn’t afraid of contact and usually finishes with a bit of flash.
Personally, I’m very eager to see what Peters can do on Saturday. He has the talent to come in and be a valuable member of this roster from day one. I’ll be keeping a eye on his playmaking skills and how he facilitates the offense at the point. The talent is definitely there. It’ll just be a question of whether he is ready to take his game to the next level.
2.) How will the frontcourt look?
Alex Len is a huge loss, no matter what way you slice it. Len was Maryland’s clear-cut interior presence that made players think twice about coming into the paint. As I mentioned above, the Terps will miss his shot-blocking ability. The team currently doesn’t have a superior rim-protector and that could be a big problem throughout the season.
Maryland does have talent in the frontcourt with Shaquille Cleare, Charles Mitchell, Evan Smotrycz, and possibly Damonte Dodd occupying most of the minutes. The starting frontcourt will likely be Cleare and Smotrycz with Mitchell. According to reports, both Cleare and Mitchell have slimmed down and are in great shape. Personally, I’m eager to see what Cleare looks like. The Texas native is quite possibly the biggest defensive threat that the Terps have. Cleare will definitely be expected to score a little bit more. However, it appeared that his main problem last year was adjusting to the speed of the collegiate game. On the other hand, Mitchell has also slimmed down. The Georgia native played in the Kenner League and was in prime physical condition. It’ll be interesting to see how both look in Saturday’s scrimmage.
3.) Is Jake Layman ready to take his game to the next level?
Forward Jake Layman showed flashes of the talent that he has during his freshman campaign. Layman averaged 5.5 points-per-game and 3.2 rebounds-per-game in just under 20 minutes a game. He proved that he has the ability to shoot from long distance and can stretch defenses. He’s a mismatch for most players as he’s a wing player but has the size to be a stretch four. The Massachusetts native also is a pretty strong defender.
According to ESPN’s Jeff Goodman, a little “birdie” told him that Layman was extremely impressive in Maryland’s secret scrimmage last weekend. That fact wouldn’t be surprising in the very least as Layman has the potential to be one of Maryland’s best players this coming season. I’ll be looking forward to seeing if the lanky sophomore is even more explosive than he was as a freshman. It would make sense to see guard Nick Faust get the starting nod over Layman, but Layman’s play could force Turgeon’s hand into even more playing time.
The scrimmage gets underway at 1 p.m. on Saturday afternoon at the Comcast Center. If you’re heading to the football game, stop over and catch your first glimpse of this year’s basketball squad!