Baltimore Sun reporters Don Markus and Jeff Barker weigh in on the three biggest topics of the past week in Maryland sports.
What should Mark Turgeon hope to get out of his team’s summer tour in the Bahamas starting next week?
Don Markus: I know Turgeon is counting on the Terps developing even more camaraderie than they had last season when they head to Bahamas next week. But outside of spending quality time together on the beach and the bus taking them to difference places, you know Turgeon is focusing on the chemistry Maryland builds on the court.
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There are some obvious storylines going into the summer tour: the maturation of Seth Allen at point guard and the challenge he gets for playing time there from freshman Roddy Peters; the continued development of Shaquille Cleare, Jake Layman and Charles Mitchell after a promising but erratic freshman year; the added leadership coming from junior transfer Evan Smotrycz.
“It’s important for Seth Allen going into this tour as our starting point guard [to see if he] can handle that,” Turgeon said Friday. “It’s important for Nick [Faust] and Dez [Wells] and Evan to be better leaders, for Jake and Charles and Shaq going into the sophomore year to play a whole different role than they did last year when they were backups.”
The one storyline that won’t play out in the Bahamas is the homecoming for Cleare. The sophomore center, who grew up in the Bahamas before he moved to Houston a few years ago, has been sidelined by hamstring and back injuries for most of the past month and Turgeon said it was “99 percent” that Cleare won’t play on the three-game tour against Bahamian teams.
The two players I’m most interested in seeing how they play are Faust and freshman Damonte Dodd. Faust played well toward the end of last season, but he seemed to regress in the NIT with poor shot selection and sloppy execution. Dodd played last winter at a prep school in Virginia, but has apparently impressed his teammates this summer with his athleticism in protecting the rim.
There’s a lot at stake this season for Faust, who got extensive time as a freshman because Turgeon didn’t have a lot of ACC-caliber players and struggled at times last season moving back and forth between playing the point and the wing. With Allen and incoming freshman Roddy Peters set at the point, Faust will be able to concentrate on playing his natural position.
“Nick’s had a great summer,” Turgeon said. “Nick’s really matured. His shot is a lot better than it was and his decision-making has been very good. He’s been more of a leader. I can’t explain it. But you’ll see it right away.”
I know it’s the summer and Turgeon is not going to be coaching the games on this tour as he will when the season begins in November, but I think going into his third year Turgeon can use these games to start getting a feel for the rotation – specifically the number of players he will be comfortable using each game. I thought he never really got a feel for that last season because the non-conference season was not very competitive.
From what I saw last season, this is a pretty tight-knit group, though the Terps didn’t necessearily demonstrate that as often as Turgeon would have liked. Any time a team can take a trip such as this, it’s going to help strengthen relationships. But shoring up their game is another story, and Turgeon has to use the Bahamas to start getting his team playing together better than it did last season.
“I think I have a good idea what my rotation is going to be depending on foul trouble and healthy bodies,” Turgeon said. “We have nine guys on scholarship and seven guys right away that we feel very confident with and Roddy and Damonte have been pleasant surprises. We won’t play down there like we’re playing North Carolina State, but we will do some things down there to [get more] comfortable with heading into the fall.”
Is Roddy Peters making a good decision not wearing No. 3?
Don Markus: I remember doing a story years ago when Johnny Rhodes was about to start his career at Maryland. Word got out that Rhodes was going to wear No. 15, the same jersey number as former Terps great John Lucas.
“I just go out and play,” Rhodes said one night that summer after playing in the Kenner League at Georgetown. “I don’t compare myself to anybody.”
What Rhodes said nearly 20 years ago resonated this week when it was reported – a bit prematurely, as things turned out – that freshman point guard Roddy Peters was going to wear No. 3, the same jersey number that Juan Dixon wore during his remarkable career in College Park. No Terp has worn it since Dixon left in 2002.
Turgeon said of Peters, “He grew up idolizing Juan but in the end he decided he didn’t want to do that.”
As things turned out, Peters decided against it and according to Turgeon, will wear No. 2, the same number that Logan Aronhalt wore last season and, before that, by D.J. Strawberry. Turgeon laughed when I mentioned that I thought that Peters wearing No. 3 and center Damonte Dodd wearing No. 35 – Lonny Baxter’s old number – was some sort of plan to recreate the NCAA championship team.
“That’s a good idea. We’ve got to do that at some point, everyone wearing the same numbers as the championship team,” Turgeon joked.
Stefon Diggs has a brother in high school. How good can he be?
Jeff Barker: Potentially very good. Trevon Diggs played for Rockville’s Wootton High and had nearly 40 catches in his freshman season. He played at 155 pounds. His coach, Tyree Spinner, said the player already has offers from Maryland and Virginia and significant interest from Nebraska and other schools.
The interest isn’t just because of his older brother. Trevon says he’s over 6 feet now and up to 170 pounds. He has very large hands for his age – 14 – and the potential to add to his frame.
Like his brother did at Good Counsel, he’s expected to play receiver, defensive back and kick returner in high school. At least for now, he wears his brother’s jersey number (“1”).
Spinner said he instinctively has good moves and an “uncanny” ability to adjust to the deep ball while it is in the air.
It’s uncertain what position Trevon would play in college. The player says he’d like to be a corner.
And what’s it like being heavily recruited after only one season of high school ball?
“It can either go to his head and he can become complacent, or he can use it as fuel. That’s a case-by-case scenario with each kid,” Spinner said. “I use it as a platform for the kids that don’t have a name. If five scouts come to watch Trevon, if you stand out they’re going to see you, too.”