Mar 15, 2013; Greensboro, NC, USA; Maryland Terrapins head coach Mark Turgeon cheers on his players against the Duke Blue Devils during the quarterfinals of the ACC tournament at Greensboro Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
The Maryland Terrapins basketball program pursuit of two transfer students came to an end this week. Rutgers guard, Eli Carter, decided to play the rest of his college basketball career at the University of Florida, while George Mason graduate Vertrail Vaughns will play at the University of North Texas. Vaughns had visited College Park earlier this week, and Carter picked Florida after his visit this past weekend.
All is not lost for Coach Turgeon and his staff this offseason. Memphis graduate and Baltimore native, Antonio Barton, is still looking for a new place to call home. The time table for Bartons decision is still unknown, but Maryland has been active in recruiting him for next years team.
With the early departure of Pe’Shon Howard, along with the injuries to Seth Allen and Roddy Peters, Maryland is looking for another guard to add to the roster. Carter and Vaughns would have provided a body, but I’m not sure how well they would have fit with what Maryland needs. Dez Wells, Nick Faust, and Seth Allen have all shown the ability to score, but what they really lack is the ability to run the offense for long periods of time. Most of Maryland’s struggles last season came from the inability to run the offense. Without a true point guard, Maryland was not able to set up their offense and run it on a consistent enough level, which led to extended scoring droughts and high number of turnovers.
The situation at Rutgers was not great, and is well documented. Regardless, Eli Carter still saw a drop in most statistical categories from this freshman season to his sophomore season. His one area of improvement was his free throwing shooting, aside from that he had more turnovers than assist and shot below 40% from the field and behind the arc. In a system better suited to his skills he could be a productive player, but for what Maryland needs, I’m not sure he fit. The Terps need a better distributer first and foremost, and Carter’s assist to turnover numbers aren’t promising.
I know not to question the current staff. They have done a great job of not only fitting Maryland’s roster with talented players, but have also filled it with a diverse range of skillsets. Just like Carter, I’m not sure how Vertrail Vaughns would have fit in with the roster for next season. He also saw a drop in his number from his junior year to his senior year. His shooting ability is not something to go crazy about (41% FG 34% 3-Pt), and he was not a primary ball handler (13 assist for the season). Maryland would have still been left with the same void at the point guard position, they would still be waiting for someone out of Dez, Nick, Seth, and Roddy to separate themselves and take the spot. Vaughns shooting could have been a plus, but the reliability of it would have been a factor.
I’m all in favor of looking to grab the one year graduate students, its an ideal situation if the scholarship is available. Logan Aronhalt was a solid addition to last years team. He brought the ability to shoot the three and a veteran attitude to a young locker room. I just don’t know how either Eli Carter or Vertrail Vaughns would have answered the biggest question of the Maryland offseason. Sometimes you can have too many players on a team. There are only 40 minutes to split up, and only 5 players can be on the court at once. Coach Turgeon had a deep team last year, and at times struggled with rotations and did not allow many player to get into the groove of the game.
Despite missing out on either one of these players (I doubt they would have taken both), Maryland is still having a good offseason. The deperatures of Alex Len and Pe’Shon Howard did not catch the staff by surprise. With there being over 350 players transfering this offseason, it is a positive sign that Maryland was able to retain everyone else. With the direction college basketball has moved to where players are either leaving earlier for the NBA draft or transfering right away, it is encouraging to see that Maryland has a staff and players who are bought in to a long term goal. Assistant coach Scott Spinelli, will soon leave for a head coaching position, but it will not be this offseason. Another bullet dodged for Maryland, as he has been instrumental in not only landing key recruits, but also helping the players progress. It will still be an uphill battle next season for the Maryland basketball team, but maintaining stability is a tough thing to do now a days. Maryland has maintained their roster and coaching staff, now its a matter of them coming together as team and improving as individuals.