Maryland men’s basketball vs. Southern New Hampshire preview


The Maryland men’s basketball team begins the 2015-16 season with an exhibition game against Southern New Hampshire on Friday evening.

The Terrapins are coming off their inaugural season in the Big Ten and finished with a 28-7 (14-4) record. It was also the first time during coach Mark Turgeon‘s tenure that Maryland made the NCAA Tournament. Maryland reached the Round of 32 after a win over Valparaiso.

During the offseason, the Terps lost two members of their backcourt in Dez Wells and Richaud Pack to graduation. However, Maryland certainly has the talent to make up for those losses.

Maryland enters the season as one of the deepest teams in the country, which is evident in their No. 3 ranking in the Associated Press and Coaches polls.

Point guard Melo Trimble returns to the team after a stellar freshman campaign. The former Bishop O’Connell star averaged 16.2 points-per-game and got to the free-throw line 240 times a season ago.

Trimble’s importance can’t be overstated because he is the straw that stirs the drink for the Terps. In Maryland’s loss against West Virginia in the NCAA Tournament, it was extremely evident that the team struggled when Trimble was not in the game. Luckily, Maryland has JuCo guard Jaylen Brantley to help take some of the load off of Trimble.

Replacing Pack in the Terp backcourt will be former Duke guard Rasheed Sulaimon. After falling out of favor with coach Mike Krzyzewski, Sulaimon elected to exercise his right as a graduate transfer and eventually landed in College Park.

Sulaimon may have seen his numbers decline each year at Duke, but he is still an above-average shooter from the perimeter and a lockdown defender. The former Blue Devil is a career 39.1 percent shooter from beyond the arc, which will come in handy for a Maryland team that shot 37.6 percent from three last season.

The frontcourt also will receive a huge boost this season. McDonald’s All-American center Diamond Stone will help anchor the paint along with Robert Carter and of course junior Damonte Dodd.

Stone, the No. 2 center in the 2015 recruiting class, is an offensively-gifted big man and could be the most talented interior presence that Maryland has had in quite some time. On the other hand, Carter was also a huge addition due to his versatility.

Carter’s ability to play the three or the four spot really gives Turgeon some options in terms of different lineup combinations. Forward Jake Layman can also play inside if needed due to his length.

Getting To Know Southern New Hampshire

  • Southern New Hampshire is the alma mater of assistant coach Bino Ranson. Ranson graduated from the school in 1999 with a degree in sports management. The Terps assistant coach finished as one of the most heralded basketball players in program history. Ranson scored 1,899 points (seventh all-time), recorded 598 assists (fifth), and connected on 226 three-point field goals (fourth).
  • The Penmen have been a member of NCAA Division II since the late 1970s. The Manchester-based school advanced to the Elite Eight of the Division II Men’s Basketball Championship as a No. 2 seed after finishing with a 24-8 (17-4) regular season mark. They fell to No. 1 seed and eventual national champion Florida Southern in a game that decided which team would go on to the Final Four.
  • Southern New Hampshire is being tabbed by many as the “team to beat” in Northeast 10 Conference. The Penmen are led by senior guard/forward Rodney Sanders, who averaged 17.1 points-per-game and was one of the team’s top shooters at 49.4 percent from the field. Sanders is one of those players that can hit a shot from anywhere on the court. Simply put, he’s a gamechanger. Senior forward Elijiah Bonsignore also averaged double figures (15.5 ppg) for the Penmen and can really finish at the rim.

Three Maryland Items To Watch

  • Diamond Stone – Reports have suggested that Stone has looked great in practice this fall, but fans want to see it with their own eyes. In the McDonald’s All-American Game back in April, Stone looked like a physically-gifted big man as he scored 14 points and looked very dominant. Stone is a guy that gets up and down the floor very well for a big man. He excels off the pick-and-roll on the offensive end and can defend it pretty well on the defensive end. It’ll be interesting to see where his game is defensively because it appears that he is incredibly gifted offensively.
  • More of a scoring punch? – Despite finishing as the second-best team in the Big Ten a season ago, the Terps only averaged 69.1 ppg (ninth in the conference). This year’s squad is as deep as any Maryland team I’ve seen in a long way. While it probably won’t happen, all five starters (Stone/Carter/Layman/Sulaimon/Trimble) have the potential to average double figures. Not to mention that the likes of Brantley, Dodd, Jared Nickens, and Dion Wiley will be coming off the bench. Maryland go about nine deep and that’s without everybody’s favorite player Varun Ram. Maryland’s offensive attack should be absolutely lethal, given their ability to score from the perimeter and the interior.
  • Is Jaylen Brantley ready to back up Melo Trimble? – Maryland’s star point guard played 33.5 minutes-per-game during the 2014-15 season. Unless the game was well in hand, Trimble was usually out on the court running the team. This was mainly because the Terps didn’t have a capable backup at the one. Turgeon had tried Wells running the point in previous years and it was unsuccessful. Ram filled the role at times due to his defensive acumen. The belief is that Brantley will fill the role this coming season. Brantley, originally a Marshall commit before attending Odessa Community College (Tx.), is a talented guard that averaged 14.3 ppg to go along with 3.7 assists-per-game during the 2014-15 season. That type of seasoning may come in handy this season when Turgeon will likely need him to play valuable minutes at times. If he can spell Trimble for 5-10 minutes every night, it’ll go a long way in guaranteeing that the sophomore is fresh come March.

Next: Maryland Football: Pregame Q&A with Badger Of Honor