Courtesy of Steve Ulrich (the writing) and Mike Willis (the GIFs)
Happy holidays Terps fans. It’s that time of year again, and in the spirit of sharing, TSMD would like to share a few Maryland tidbits in Yuletide style.
“All I Want For Christmas Is You”
Located at the top of Randy Edsall’s wish list is Friendship Collegiate Academy 2014 cornerback Jalen Tabor. Tabor has stated that his mind will be made up on Christmas day, and Edsall would love nothing more than a joyful pledge to go along with his eggnog. As reported by TSMD’s own Ahmed Ghafir, Tabor’s recruiting has taken sort of a weird twist. Once considered the heavy favorite, the Terps have apparently been dethroned due to a strong push by Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide and an impressive official visit to the Arizona desert.
I’d like to remind Terps fans that this is recruiting, where anything can happen. Seventeen- and eighteen-year old kids are very impressionable, and a kid can absolutely love a school (even commit to said school) one second, but at the drop of a hat, become another coach’s prized possession. In the game of recruiting, most of it is speculation, so it always must be taken with a grain of salt.
With that being said, I still feel confident that Tabor will be a Terp in 2014. For one thing, I don’t see Arizona as a true threat. Alabama on the other hand is Alabama; going up against Saban on the recruiting trail is comparable to a modern day David vs Goliath clash. But let’s remember Tabor’s twitter handle: ‘HesSuchATEEZ’. Tabor loves the attention and knows how to play the recruiting game; let’s be honest, all the fun is sucked out of recruiting when everyone thinks you’re destined for a particular school (in this case, Tabor to UMD). Again, this is recruiting where nothing is concrete, but I’m still willing to bet my Christmas sweater that Tabor will be in College Park next season.
“Chestnuts Roasting On an Open Fire”
Chestnuts aren’t the only thing on fire this holiday season; so is Dez Wells. In the month of December, Wells is averaging 19.5 points per game, 4.3 rebounds, and shooting close to 50% from the field. He has also trimmed his abundant amount of turnovers, averaging just 1.3 turnovers per game. The emergence of freshman Roddy Peters has helped, allowing Turgeon to comfortably move Dez off the ball and back into his comfort zone on the wing.
Outside of his stinker against Florida Atlantic following a game in which he moved the earth to ensure Maryland a victory, Wells has been dominant since moving off the ball a bit more. As long as Wells remains off the ball and Peters sops up minutes at the point, I fully expect these numbers to be moderately consistent throughout ACC play. Hurry back Seth Allen!
“We Three Kings”
Wells’ increased production isn’t exactly
a Christmas miracle, but the development of Jake Layman, along with the welcomed addition of Evan Smotrycz, has given the Terps offense some balance. They are the Terps top three leading scorers, all averaging double digits (Wells – 15.3, Layman – 15, Smotrycz – 12.3). The Maryland trio is also accounting for 58% of Maryland’s points, 44% of the boards, all while collectively shooting 44% from the floor.
What’s even better is that the team is shooting better from the perimeter because of the emergence of those two. Layman and Smotrycz can both light it up from deep, and it’s why Maryland’s three point percentage is up more than a point this year. They are taking as many threes, just making a lot more. That number isn’t even indicative of how well they’re playing, because Nick Faust has gone through an epically bad cold streak. If Allen comes back strong and Faust (8.9 points per game) continues to play games like he did against Florida Atlantic, this could be one of the more offensively balanced teams the Terps have had in quite some time.
“There’s No Place like Home for the Holidays”
Maryland will not have to roam far this Christmas, as they make the 29 mile hike to Annapolis for this year’s Military Bowl. Reports are that Maryland has already sold its ticket allotment, so it will most definitely have a hometown feel for the Terps. A win over the Thundering Herd would give Maryland 8 wins on the season, the most since 2010 (ironically) when Ralph Friedgen’s squad won the Military Bowl against East Carolina. Despite many Terps holiday wishes, I don’t think the Terps will be looking for a new football coach at the conclusion of this game.
“The Nutcracker Suite”
The Atlantic Coast Conference is still giving Maryland a good kick in the groin for abandoning them for greener ($$$) pasture. According to Alex Prewitt of the Washington Post, The ACC is not only withholding the revenue earnings from the Maryland athletic department, but they are also withholding the money that Maryland is supposed to receive from the Military Bowl payout.
Here’s how it works; each ACC school that makes a bowl game receives a large bowl game payout (Maryland is supposed to receive $1 million from the Military Bowl – bigger bowl game payouts are much larger). All of the bowl game earnings are thrown into a pot, and redistributed to all ACC schools. Maryland, who will depart for the Big Ten Conference next season, will not receive any earnings.
At the conclusion of the Military Bowl on December 27th, Maryland football will no longer be affiliated with the Atlantic Coast Conference. If you ask me, it can’t come soon enough.
“Please Come Home for Christmas”
The 2014 recruiting class is coming to a close, with only a few local recruits left on Randy Edsall’s list. But Christmas might come early for Edsall and company, thanks in part to Santa Locksley. As for the presents he’s leaving under the tree? Well, these neat little toys are the local 2015 recruits, and there are plenty of them to go around.
Maryland’s 2015 recruiting board is an interesting one. There aren’t any 5-star blue chip All-American locks like a Stefon Diggs, Damian Prince, Marvin Austin, Eddie Goldman, etc. But the 2015 class is deep, with tons of local 4-star prospects (maybe even a couple 5-stars when it’s all said and done). The majority of prospects the Terps are seriously involved in are centrally located in Maryland and Washington, DC, with some sprinkled in Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey. The Terps coaching staff won’t have to stray too far from College Park to find serious talent.
“I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas”
Maryland will be wearing their White Ops jerseys against Marshall on December 27th. The Terps have a record of 1-2 when they don their pearly whites, with losses to West Virginia in 2012 and Florida State this past season. The Terps did however get the win in Blacksburg this year against Virginia Tech, and thank goodness, because it is without a doubt Maryland’s best looking uniform!
The University of Maryland soccer team will have a hard time rocking around the Christmas tree this year, as they came so close to being crowned National Champions. But cheers to Sasha’s boys who represented the University well and made the student body proud.
They didn’t catch any breaks (unlike Notre Dame), but they played hard and will most certainly rebound from this crushing defeat in 2014. If you haven’t been paying attention, Maryland brought in three of the top fifty ranked players in the country in the 2013 class and three more ranked in the top 70 in 2014.
“The Little Drummer Boy”
If you’ve never listened to the lyrics to this jingle, I’ll give you the gist of it: it’s about a humble kid who doesn’t have much to offer but does what he can to impress the head honcho…and he prospers in the end. Damned if that does not sound like the story of John Graham.
Graham was not expected to bring much to the table this season due to his very limited game, but poor play by the front court has given Graham his wish. He has certainly stepped up and impressed coach Turgeon with his energy and defensive presence. After seeing a total of 19 minutes in the first five contests (under four minutes per game), Graham has averaged 17 minutes the last three games. Don’t expect him to fill up the stat sheet; instead, Graham will continue to give Mitchell, Cleare, and Smotrycz breathers and continue to help out with depth and be a sparkplug off the bench. To some Terps fans, he’s already exceeded expectations.
“O Come, All Ye Faithful”
Following the 77-75 loss to George Washington in the BB&T Classic, there were many Terps fans that were calling for coach Turgeon’s head and felt that the basketball season was lost. C’mon people!
Here’s the thing: part of the problem is that Terps fans can have trouble managing their expectations. Another issue is losing a top-five NBA lottery player and replacing him with a guy that played 12 minutes a game last year (who is also averaging fewer than three shot attempts per game). Another factor is losing your starting point guard who was your fourth leading scorer as a freshman last season and one of your most important offensive weapons this year.
With all these factors, Maryland has only lost by a total margin of 6.5 points (if you remove the trouncing in Columbus against #5 Ohio State, the average margin of defeat drops to 3.3). Two of their four loses are against top-20 teams, and the other against a George Washington team that has beaten Miami, then top-20 Creighton, Rutgers and Maryland (The 8-1 Colonials only loss by the way came against then top-25 Marquette).
If fans want to start doubting this team in December, go right ahead. After all, the same fans are guilty of doing the same last season, and the Terps pulled out 25 wins and two victories against Duke. I have faith that Turgeon will right the ship, and his team has an upset or two up their sleeve.
“Joy to the World”
The University of Maryland has one more football game, twenty more regular season basketball games, an ACC Tournament, and a still-to-be-determined tournament left before the Terps bolt for the Big Ten Conference. Celebrate good times, come on!
(If you don’t want to celebrate and still wish UMD was in the ACC, maybe the fact that Maryland will be a part of a conference that will subsidize $30 million in television revenue per school – the ACC schools will receive $17 million – will cheer you up).
“One Last Christmas”
The Military Bowl will be the last game Greg Gattuso coaches wearing the red and black, as he becomes the newest head coach at the University of Albany. Although just a defensive line coach, Gattuso will be sorely missed, as he was not only a great players coach, but a great recruiter as well.
For those that don’t know, Gattuso recruited Frederick County, Maryland (Jared Cohen), some parts of Pennsylvania (Brett Kulka, David Shaw), the Midwest (Andrew Gray), and was the point man in bringing in heralded 2015 offensive lineman E.J. Donahue. All of these recruits are sticking with Maryland, but all have expressed their sorrow from Gattuso’s departure.
Gattuso was also responsible for the stellar play from Maryland’s defensive line this past season. Junior Andre Monroe recorded 8.5 sacks in only 10 games, while the development of nose tackle Darius Kilgo and defensive end Quinton Jefferson has given Maryland a stout defensive front three. Gattuso’s boys are a linchpin in containing the opposition’s rushing attack, holding them to under four yards per carry in 2013.
“The Man with All the Toys”
The Terps signed Iowa Western Junior College transfer Larry Mazyck (OT) yesterday, but the staff also received news that wide receiver Marcus Leak has re-enrolled at Maryland. With the addition of Leak for the 2014 season, wide receivers coach Lee Hull has more toys than he knows what to do with.
Next year’s receiving corps will look something like this: Deon Long (SR), Stefon Diggs (JR), Nigel King (JR), Marcus Leak (SO), Levern Jacobs (JR), Amba Etta-Tawo (SO), Malcolm Culmer (SO), Daniel Adams (SR), Tyrek Cheeseboro (JR), Taivon Jacobs (FR), DeAndre Lane (SO), and Jawann Winfree (FR). Have fun coach Hull!
From all of us at Terrapinstationmd, we wish all of you a happy, safe, prosperous holiday; filled with Maryland victories, recruiting pledges, and the likes!