9:31 AM EDT, May 4, 2012
Baltimore Sun reporters Jeff Barker and Don Markus and editor Matt Bracken weigh in on the three biggest topics of the past week in Maryland sports.
What was your reaction to Maryland basketball guard Terrell Stoglin leaving the team after a one-year suspension, and where does this leave the program?
Jeff Barker: I felt sad for Terrell and what he had done to himself. Somebody commented to me that he's a kid who couldn't get out of his own way, and that's about right.
I hadn't known what I would think of Terrell before I met him one-on-one. I found him to be a sweet kid. But he is stubborn. You have to be stubborn -- or naive -- to repeat the same behavior multiple times until it gets you suspended for a significant period.
He was clearly a big challenge to coach, but Maryland will miss a guy who could score as many as 25 points in a half, as Stoglin did in a win over Colorado. I will long remember him attempting 20 3-pointers against Miami (he made six). Maryland must hope some big scorers emerge from among Nick Faust and a promising incoming class to help fill the void.
Who will be Maryland's go-to guy with Stoglin gone?
Don Markus: While I do think the scoring will be more balanced -- and probably would have been that way even with Stoglin -- I think the two big scorers next season have to be Alex Len and Nick Faust.
Even before the 7-foot-1 center from the Ukraine became eligible, Mark Turgeon talked about how Len might be Maryland's best player by the time the season ended. That didn't happen, but Len certainly showed flashes of being a player who could score either inside or outside. Len must emerge as a player who consistently gets double-digit points and rebounds for Maryland to be competitive next season.
I think the player who could eventually emerge as Maryland's leading scorer is Faust. I didn't understand what the fuss was for the first half of his freshman year. But Faust slowed down as the game did for him and he became a reliable scoring option aside from Stoglin down the stretch.
The thing I like about Faust is his ability to score off the dribble, and his explosiveness going to the basket. He began to hit his outside shot with a little more regularity toward the end of the season, and if he can get more reliable with that -- meaning better mechanics -- I can see him averaging 15 points next year and more after that.
How does Stoglin's exit affect incoming freshmen guards Seth Allen and Sam Cassell Jr.?
Matt Bracken: Allen and Cassell were likely members of Maryland's playing rotation even with Stoglin on the roster. But without the ACC's leading scorer, minutes for both three-star prospects just increased substantially. Allen describes himself as a combo guard, but those who saw him play his senior year at Fredericksburg (Va.) Christian and/or in the Capital Classic last month were struck by his potential at the point. Allen's a natural leader who is a very capable scorer, but he's also a guy who is comfortable in a pass-first role. I expect him to compete with Pe'Shon Howard for minutes at the 1. Those two will probably be Maryland's primary ball-handlers.
Cassell also considers himself a combo guard, and he can certainly run the point in a pinch. But as his prep school coach Ryan Hurd once said, Cassell "is a ballplayer above all else." To try to replace Stoglin, Maryland needs a volume scorer who's not afraid to take big shots. I don't think anyone would expect Cassell to totally fill those shoes by himself, but the Baltimore native does possess a somewhat similar skill-set to Stoglin.
The last time I saw Cassell play was at the Bmorehoops.com All-Star Game at The Dome in East Baltimore last August. The 2012 game was the quintessential all-star event in the sense that defense was nowhere to be found and probably 60 percent of the field-goal attempts were dunks. But Cassell stood out by making seven or eight 3s of the ridiculous, step-back variety. They were the types of triples where you think, "Wow, that shot has no chance of going in" or simply, "What is he doing?" And then the 3 would fall and everyone would go crazy. Cassell did the same thing with Nike Baltimore Elite last summer and with Notre Dame Prep over the fall and winter. At some point, you have to acknowledge that there's nothing at all fluky about his game. Cassell's style may look a bit unorthodox, but he has proven over and over again that he's an elite outside shooter. The ACC is certainly a different animal, but doing it on the Nike EYBL circuit and in the New England Preparatory Schools Athletic Conference -- the highest levels of AAU and prep school -- cannot be discounted.
If Maryland wanted to cut ties with Cassell after he re-opened his recruitment in March, nobody would have blamed the coaching staff. But Mark Turgeon and Co. clearly saw something in him and refused to give up. Now Cassell will have a chance as a freshman to prove the Terps staff right by making up for some of Stoglin's lost production.
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