Baltimore Sun reporters Jeff Barker and Don Markus and producer-editor Jonas Shaffer weigh in on three of the biggest topics of the past week in Maryland sports.
How important was it for Maryland to make a bowl game this season?
Jeff Barker: Making the Military Bowl was important for several reasons, win or lose. Maryland needed a bowl game to demonstrate that the program is ascendant – that it is on an upward arc. Remember that the Terps had to pull out of a rough, middle patch of the season in which they went 1-4.
In difficult times, Maryland coach Randy Edsall has been able to point to the fact that the team’s victories have increased in each of his three seasons. A three-year bowl drought would have emboldened his critics.
The third year of a coach’s contract is a significant one. By the third year, a coach is presumed to have had enough time to make over the team in his image.
Then there is the issue of practice time. For making a bowl, the Terps were rewarded with weeks of extra practice time.
That’s important for a team’s development. Two-thirds of Maryland’s roster is composed of underclassmen. The Terps are a team with an experienced quarterback (fifth-year player C.J. Brown, who returns for one more season) but a relatively young supporting cast.Maryland treated the practices like an extra training camp, going back to basics. Today’s Military Bowl matchup with Marshall amounts to an opening game of a season.
How should Mark Turgeon use Seth Allen once he returns after recovering from a broken foot?
Don Markus: A lot hinges on how soon Allen gets back on the court and what kind of shape he’s in when he suits up. Assuming that he is ready when the Terps play their next ACC game Jan. 4 against Georgia Tech, not much will have changed in terms of Turgeon’s backcourt rotation.
I wrote last spring that I thought Allen deserved the chance to be Maryland’s starting point guard. But I was under the assumption that freshman Roddy Peters, coming off shoulder surgery after missing the season at a senior at Suitland High, would not be ready to take over.
While Peters is still prone to turnovers and defensive lapses, he is light years ahead of where Allen was as a freshman in terms of his point guard skills. Allen is a natural scorer who was trying to learn how to play point. Peters is the first pass-first point guard the Terps have had in a long time, possibly since Steve Blake.
What Allen gives the Terps is a guard who is a better outside shooter than either Dez Wells or Nick Faust, but has the ability to penetrate as well. He is not as unwilling passer as Terrell Stoglin was his sophomore year, but he is certainly not in the mold of Peters.
I do think Turgeon can use Allen at point guard against teams that want to play zone. What hurt the Terps last week against Boston University was the Terriers knew Peters wasn’t going to shoot, so they could slough off the 6-4 freshman and shade their perimeter defense toward Jake Layman.
With Allen, teams are going to have to play more honestly. A recent video that went viral last week showed Allen shooting 3-point shots with a ball-feeding machine, and it looked like he had not lost his stroke. (It also looked as if the same two shots were shown repeatedly.)
But I still think Turgeon should keep starting Peters, and bring Allen off the bench. It’s going to take Allen a little while to get back in basketball shape anyway.
Allen will certainly give Turgeon the depth he said he lacked against Boston University as well as a couple of other games this season. If the Terps continue to bring Faust off the bench, it gives Turgeon the potential of two former starters giving the team an offensive lift.
It’s clear to me and others that Peters is Maryland’s point guard of the future, and the more he plays big minutes, the faster he is going to cut down on his mistakes. Allen’s return can slow that progress if Turgeon moves Peters to the bench.
But he can also help the Terps recover from their disappointing early-season start and win more than their share of games in the ACC.
I thought Jalen Tabor was a near-lock to Maryland. Now I hear the Terps aren't even in his top two. What gives?
Jonas Shaffer: On Christmas Day, Tabor logged into his @HesSuchATEEZ Twitter handle and asked, rhetorically:
You probably recognize one of those hashtags. "Roll Tide," of course, is the greeting, exclamation and self-fulfilling battle cry (especially lately) of Alabama football. For those outside Pacific-12 Conference country, the other may require a little bit more research. It's not property of California and its Bears; rather, it's the slogan of Arizona, the surprising third wheel in Tabor's trio of finalists.
If there are tea leaves to be read in the blue-chip defensive back's recruitment, they may require the expertise of an actual gypsy. The Terps were excluded from Tabor's hashtag-heavy announcement ... yet remain the heavy favorite to land him. He retweets well-meaning messages from Arizona and Alabama fans ... and mournful posts from Maryland fans lamenting the thought of another in-state star headed out.
Parsing the tweets of a 17-year-old, especially one with almost 8,000 of them, is silly. What is code, and what is real? I don't know, and I don't think that anyone but Tabor does. His college decision will be made public in less than a week, during the Under Armour All-American game Jan. 2 in St. Petersburg, Fla., and if his tweets are to believed, he will pick up either a crimson or cardinal hat, grin widely and send a fan base into a tizzy.
Or he could reach underneath a table to reveal a Maryland hat and a knowing smile. Lest we forget, this could all be tease. @HesSuchATEEZ, to be exact.