Baltimore Sun reporter Don Markus and producer-editor Jonas Shaffer weigh in on three topics from the past week in Maryland sports.
Who is going to replace Scott Spinelli on Mark Turgeon’s staff?
Don Markus: The only name that has surfaced so far is Indiana assistant Kenny Johnson. It makes sense, given that Johnson has ties to the area as a 1999 Maryland graduate, a former AAU coach with Team Takeover, a high school coach at Paul VI in Northern Virginia and an assistant for one year at Towson.
It certainly doesn’t hurt Johnson’s candidacy that he helped the Hoosiers beat out Maryland for Noah Vonleh, who turned out to be the Big Ten freshman of the year and Indiana's leading rebounder last season. Given Johnson’s reputation as a top-notch recruiter, other schools are reportedly interested as well.
But Mark Turgeon is realistic enough to know that it could likely come down to money, and given Maryland’s current financial state, it seems doubtful that the Terps can outbid Louisville.
Despite a report in an Indianapolis paper that said the Hoosiers were ready to increase Johnson's $200,000 salary, I think it will come down to Maryland and Louisville.
When Johnson’s name first surfaced a couple of weeks ago, amid rumors of Spinelli’s impending departure, my first reaction was that Turgeon needed an assistant who’s going to be able to recruit and develop talent. Everything I have been told about Johnson is that he’s a recruiter – period.
Coaches often feel about hiring recruiters as they do about the recruits themselves: even if you're a top 25 program, you can never have enough. You might say that recruiting is to college basketball what pitching is to be baseball, but I don’t think recruiting is an issue in College Park.
The Terps are about to welcome in a class ranked eighth in the country by ESPN. Though former assistant Delonte Hill, who resigned after his second DUI last October, had a hand in getting local guards Melo Trimble and Dion Wiley, ultimately they are coming to play for Turgeon.
Dustin Clark, who was promoted from director of basketball operations to assistant coach when Hill left, proved his recruiting chops with the addition of 7-foot Slovakian Michal Cekovsky. (ESPN's recruiting experts must think highly of Cekovsky. The Terps went up six spots in their rankings.)
Bino Ranson, the only member of Gary Williams’ staff retained after Turgeon took over, helped bring in both rising junior Charles Mitchell as well as incoming freshman Trayvon Reed, the 7-1 center who finished his high school career playing under former Louisville star Pervis Ellison at the Life Center Academy in Burlington, N.J.
What I believe is missing is a big man coach.
Along with the instability at point guard, what contributed the most to Maryland’s 17-15 season was a lack of production by its big men. Whoever comes in need to help Mitchell and rising senior Evan Smotrycz improve their post games and, even more importantly, help develop Cekovsky, Reed and rising sophomore center Damonte Dodd.
This is not to say that Johnson can’t do that at Maryland if he is hired. But I think that given the importance of this hire in terms of Turgeon’s future at Maryland, I think he needs a more experienced coach on the floor in practice and in games to help the Terps turn things around next season.
After leaving Maryland, where is Nick Faust going to wind up playing?
Don Markus: There has been plenty of speculation since Faust (City) received his release in order to transfer for his senior year.
There apparently have not been many offers.
Connor Letourneau, who covered Faust and the Terps for The Diamondback and is now the Oregon State beat writer for The Oregonian, tweeted this week that Anthony Faust said his son could not be promised enough playing time at Iowa State, one of the schools reportedly on his initial list.
There should be plenty of playing time at Oregon State, which recruited Faust out of high school and, according to Letourneau, is losing most of its offense from a team that finished 16-16 overall and 8-10 in the Pac-12.
Anthony Faust told The Oregonian that the other school that has expressed interest in his son is Richmond, which has ties to Baltimore through associate head coach Jamal Brunt (St. Frances). Like Oregon State, Richmond’s offensive principles are built around the Princeton offense.