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.
How would you evaluate Maryland football’s senior class that will appear in its last home game on Saturday?
Jeff Barker: This year’s outgoing class possessed good talent, particularly on defense. There was Joe Vellano, A.J. Francis, Demetrius Hartsfield, Kenneth Tate, Justin Gilbert and Kevin Dorsey, among others.
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But it’s hard not to feel for this class a bit.
It just didn’t end right for these guys. I say that not as a fan, but as someone who got to know this class covering them and wished them well.
With two games remaining this year, Maryland is 25-35 since the 2008 season began. Along the way, there were two head coaches, three defensive coordinators and three offensive coordinators.
Think about Tate’s path -- from a high school wide receiver, to an All-ACC safety, to a hybrid linebacker-safety and, this season, to strong-side linebacker. That takes a lot of adjusting. There were some knee injuries in there as well that limited the player.
When I talked to Tate during the preseason, he was a little more sober about football than when he entered Maryland as a top recruit from DeMatha. His experiences have reinforced that the game is also a business. He seems more keenly aware that nothing about his future is guaranteed. "You could have a coach one day and not have the coach the next day," Tate said.
Don’t get me wrong. Tate still loves the sport and his teammates and aspires to play in the NFL. He said Saturday’s Senior Day – when he will be introduced before the Florida State game – will be “really, truly a special day.”
“These are the days that you just don’t think about when you to college. I’ve come to that realization now that I’m definitely going to miss this place,” Tate said.
If you were coaching Maryland, who would you want your starting point guard to be this season?
Don Markus: Despite the influx of talent into Mark Turgeon’s program, this remains his biggest dilemma. None of the three players with point guard skills – junior Pe’Shon Howard, sophomore Nick Faust and freshman Seth Allen – can be classified as traditional point guards. Even Suitland High’s Roddy Peters, who announced this week that he will be coming to College Park next season, is also more of a scoring point guard.
Coming off the preseason, I really thought Turgeon would go with Allen over Howard because of his athletic ability and his willingness to attack the basket. While his performance against a Division II team in an exhibition game – 16 points, 5 assists, 0 turnovers, 5 steals – didn’t come against a top-level opponent, it certainly opened more than a few eyes and gave the debate some steam.
Based on what happened in the season-opening loss to Kentucky, when Allen helped jump-start the offense in the second half with a couple of 3-point shots and later when Howard forced a 3 that could have sent the game into overtime rather than pass to wide-open teammates on either wing, I thought that might have changed Turgeon’s mind.
Turgeon acknowledged after the game that Howard didn’t run the play that was called – which was to get the ball to the wing shooters – but praised Howard’s defense on Julius Mays. Given the time left (7.7 seconds when the Terps took the ball out) and better shooters on the wing (including Logan Aronhalt, who was inserted for that reason), it was a bad decision by Howard.
After Monday’s game against Morehead State, when Howard didn’t take a single shot but had a good assist to turnover ration (7-3), I figured Turgeon’s mind was further muddled.
I asked him at Thursday’s news conference leading into Friday’s home game against Long Island University if he wanted Howard to to look more for his shot or continue to concentrate on setting others up.
“I don’t want him passing up wide open shots. I thought he had a 3 in the first half off an offensive reboundsm they threw it out to him that he wouldn’t hesistated in the Kentucky game, he would have let it fire,” Turgeon said. “I do think on the break he needs to explore a little more. I think I need someone just to run our team right now and he’s willing to do it.