Baltimore Sun reporters Jeff Barker and Don Markus and intern Connor Letourneau (The Diamondback's co-sports editor and men's lacrosse beat writer) weigh in on the three biggest topics of the past week in Maryland sports.
Should Maryland play basketball games every year in Baltimore?
Don Markus: I was surprised to read that Maryland hasn't played in Baltimore since 1999, and that has to change. If the Terps can find their way to Washington each season for the BB&T Classic, I think they should also go north each season (or at least every other year) as well.
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1st Mariner Arena doesn't have the appeal of the Verizon Center, but if the talent coming out of Baltimore is as important to Mark Turgeon as the blue-chip players coming from the D.C. area, he should find a way to bring him team here.
This year, Maryland will have two players from Baltimore -- sophomore guard Nick Faust and freshman guard Sam Cassell Jr. -- and none from D.C., though that is likely to change in future years.
I also don't think it would hurt for Maryland to play one of the local Baltimore area teams each year. I understand why he might not want to play Loyola right now, but Towson is looking for a big-name opponent to open its new arena next season. Just a thought.
Football coach Randy Edsall spoke about Stefon Diggs’ potential this week. How much might Diggs contribute as a freshman and at what position?
Jeff Barker: After the wide receiver committed, Edsall was pretty quick to say that Diggs – who also excels as a defensive back – would be a receiver and perhaps a kick returner for the Terps.
He’s already got the fan base jazzed up. Before he committed, Maryland fans at a men's basketball game did alternating chants of "Stefon" and "Diggs” to serenade him during a visit.
How much will he contribute?
Tough to predict, but I’d look at the Torrey Smith model. Smith made an immediate impact in his first season, particularly as a kick returner. I think there isn’t as steep of a learning curve returning kicks as there is running intricate pass patterns. Kick returners can succeed with instinct and talent (and blocking).
Look at the career arc of West Virginia's Tavon Austin. He played sparingly as a receiver in his freshman season, but was immediately a kickoff return threat (No. 4 in the Big East in his first season).
Smith, who redshirted his first year, developed into an outstanding wide receiver, but it took some time. I’ll be interested to see how quickly Diggs, a great prospect with large hands, can learn the offense.
Maryland fell to Loyola, 9-3, in the NCAA men’s lacrosse national championship game on Monday. The Terps are now 0-7 in national title games since 1975. How concerned should fans be?
Connor Letourneau: The frustration is understandable. Maryland, after all, is the flagship university of a lacrosse-crazed state. Terps fans have high expectations for their men’s lacrosse program, and those expectations haven’t been met in 37 years.
That will soon change.
The Terps are only losing two starters (attackman Joe Cummings and midfielder Drew Snider) from this year’s team, and have one of the deepest benches in Division I. They also are set to welcome one of the nation’s top freshmen classes this fall.
But those aren’t the only reasons the Terps are my favorite to win the national title next year. For me, it all goes back to John Tillman. It’s no fluke that the former Cornell goalie is the only coach in NCAA tournament history to take two unseeded teams to the Final Four (he did it in his first two years in College Park).
Tillman knows how to get the most out of his players. He’s a guy who commands respect. He always seems to have a positive message, and his teams buy into it.
This year was the perfect example. After losing about half his roster to graduation last year, Tillman developed somewhat of a catch phrase: “Why not us?” It was a question repeated after nearly every game. He preached that if his team learned to play complete games, it would have a shot come May.
That faith didn’t waiver all season — even though the Terps suffered through four fourth-quarter collapses, and an 0-4 record in two-goal games. Tillman’s team repaid him with postseason wins over No. 7 seed Lehigh, No. 2 seed Johns Hopkins and No. 3 seed Duke. They just ran out of gas against Loyola.
I don’t expect a similar letdown next year. With Tillman leading the way, the Terps should finally get over the hump. They should finally be able to win on Memorial Day.