Jan 29, 2014; College Park, MD, USA; Maryland Terrapins bench celebrates after Maryland Terrapins guard/forward Dez Wells (32) scores the go ahead three point shot during the second half at Comcast Center. Maryland Terrapins defeated Miami Hurricanes 74-71. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
The Maryland Terrapins mens basketball team has had an action packed and drama filled off-season. Almost a complete turnover in staff and two waves of transfers have sent shockwaves around Terp Nation. As Maryland transitions into the Big Ten, the topic of conversation has shifted from how the program will make this leap to what is happening in the locker room. While each transfer and staff hiring has different reasons and pros/cons, it has split fans into the sky is falling and you’re a homer group.
Following the departure of Assistant Coach Dalonte Hill last season, Coach Mark Turgeon promoted Director of Basketball Operations Dustin Clark to Assistant Coach. This left the role of Director of Basketball Operations open for the season, and a role that needed to be addressed in the offseason. The list of areas to address increased when Editor Michael Willis and Staff Writer Steve Ulrich broke the news about the transfers of Nick Faust and Shaq Cleare. Neither was too surprising given how Faust had flirted with the idea for three years, and Cleare had struggled with the transition to high major basketball. When the official release came out on Faust and Cleare, it also included local five star point guard Roddy Peters, which came out of left field to many fans.
Shock continued to mount around Terp Nation when news of rising junior Seth Allen transferring came out. This was following the wave of three transfers mentioned above, which is why it came at such a shock. Allen was projected to be the starting point guard, and play around 30 minutes per game. Around this time, Assistant Coach Scott Spinelli took a job as an Assistant Coach at Boston College. Spinelli had been Turgeon’s right hand man and had come over from Texas A&M with Turgeon. With Allen’s release and Maryland without an Assistant Coach and Director of Basketball Operations, rumors began to swirl about Charles Mitchell transferring. A couple of weeks went by with no news about Mitchell until Thursday when the rising junior was granted his release from Maryland.
While all of this appears to be negative and appears to shed a negative light on Maryland and coach Turgeon, there were some positives that came out of the offseason. Following the first wave of transfers, Maryland secured the commitment of 7’1″ European big man Michael Cekovsky. Coach Turgeon also filled the role of Director of Basketball Operations with former Jacksonville State basketball coach Cliff Warren, who is a native of Silver Spring, MD. After flirting with a couple of potential Assistant Coaches, Maryland promoted Warren, and hired alumni Nima Omidvar to fill the role of Director of Basketball Operations. Finally, on the same day that Mitchell was granted a release, Maryland secured a commitment from 5th year guard and North Carolina A&T transfer Richaud Pack.
The roller coaster offseason appears to be over now, with Maryland having a full staff and an immediate guard option to help freshmen Melo Trimble and Dion Willey with their transition to college. Coach Turgeon is still out there recruiting another transfer option, but it is unsure if this will be an immediately eligible player or one who will sit out a year. Either way, the only news expected out of College Park now is positive, which is a welcomed change from earlier this offseason.
If you aren’t obsessed with Maryland basketball then I’m sure that everything above is a bit confusing to follow. There has been a lot of change, and next year will feature a lot of new faces in the Maryland locker room. But change isn’t always bad, especially when Coach Turgeon is working on establishing his program.
Maryland basketball under Mark Turgeon has seen many ups and downs: big upsets, disappointing loses, ranked recruiting classes, no NCAA Tournament, top five NBA draft pick, and bench arguments. With how up and down it is has been, change is what many have been asking for. While that change may have been the head coach, it is unfair and unreasonable for Maryland to release Mark Turgeon. It is positive to see that the head coach is willing to make the changes that he made early on in his tenure. When a coach has gone three years without making the NCAA Tournament, the head coach needs to make some changes to the staff and roster to get back on track.
The culture in the Maryland locker room has been said to have been a problem, and it appears that Turgeon has taken the steps necessary to change this problem. Positive responses to this change can already be seen with seniors Dez Wells and Evan Smotrycz tweeting photos of team workouts and words of encouragement about the state of the program. Freshman Melo Trimble has been quoted in articles saying that he welcomes the challenge of leading the Terrapins next season. All of this shows how committed the remaining Terrapins are and how they aren’t going to make any excuses for next season.
While the possibility remains that Maryland might find themselves in the same situation next season, that appears to be slim given the attitudes of the players remaining. Making the NCAA Tournament will be an uphill battle for the Terrapins, but this team appears to be more fan friendly then last years team. The kunckleheads that seemed to create such a problem last year on and off the court are gone, and now there is a team of players who will fight hard to bring Maryland back to the NCAA Tournament. As fans of 18-22 year old college kids, all we can really ask of them is that they work hard on and off court and represent Maryland in a positive light.
Coach Turgeon is a good coach, and while he hasn’t done much to show this at Maryland, he has shown that he is able to make changes and adjustments to attempt to succeed. Building a program is difficult, but Turgeon is trying hard to do so the right way. The two staff hires made this offseason, show a commitment to securing the best basketball prospects in the Beltway area, and the clearing of players show that Turgeon isn’t willing to let players immaturity dictate the future of Maryland basketball. This season will be another roller coaster ride, but I have feeling that Turgeon and his staff will shock some people with what they are able to get out of a young roster.