Shaquille Cleare

From a personal standpoint, Mark Turgeon might miss Shaquille Cleare, who was a hard worker but didn't have the athleticism to live up to his ranking as an incoming recruit. (Evan Habeeb, USA Today Sports / December 14, 2013)

Baltimore Sun reporters Don Markus and Jeff Barker and producer-editor Jonas Shaffer weigh in on three topics from the past week in Maryland sports.


Of the three men's basketball players who are transferring from Maryland (Nick Faust, Shaquille Cleare and Roddy Peters), which is Mark Turgeon going to miss the most?

Don Markus:  The quick answer would be none of the above, considering that Maryland is coming off one of its most disappointing seasons in recent memory. The diplomatic answer would be that all will be missed in their own way.

From a personal standpoint, I think Mark Turgeon will miss Shaquille Cleare the most.

Despite not living up the hype coming out of Houston, where he benefited from playing on the same AAU team as Kentucky's Andrew and Aaron Harrison, Cleare is a hard-working, smart kid whose lack of athleticism made him look three steps behind – or below – the play.

The proverbial handwriting was on the wall even before it was leaked Monday that 7-foot Slovakian Michal Cekovsky had committed to Maryland for next season. The expected arrival of 7-1 ½ Trayvon Reed this summer was the first sign, as was Cleare losing his starting job midway through his sophomore year.

From a basketball standpoint, at least in the short term, Turgeon will miss Roddy Peters the most because he would have been the only player on the current roster with the mindset of being a true point guard.

This puts some pressure on Turgeon to find an experienced point guard – either a junior college player or a graduate student eligible to play right away – so that the pressure doesn’t fall immediately on incoming freshman Melo Trimble, who is more of a combo guard that a true point.

As for Nick Faust, his departure leaves the Terps lacking what Turgeon calls an “elite defender” on the wing and might require leading scorer Dez Wells to take on that role along as well during his senior year. But it can be done.

Faust was also a factor when the Terps trapped and pressed – he led the team in steals – but without him, Maryland is likely going to be a much steadier and smarter team offensively.

The Terps won’t miss Faust’s penchant for taking bad shots or his habit of continuing to shoot after missing his first three or four, typically 3-pointers. He wasn’t the only culprit, but otherslike Jake Layman and Evan Smotrycz are better shooters whose roles in the offense are designed that way.  

For his career, Faust was a 38 percent shooter, 31 percent on 3-pointers. A big scorer in high school at City, Faust scored 20 points in a game only once at Maryland. In 27 games when he took 10 shots or more, Faust connected on at least half of them just nine times.

Faust and his supporters thought he should have been a bigger part of the offense, which is the reason he’s leaving. Because of his athleticism, Faust will likely land at a high major in the process of rebuilding, as Pe'Shon Howard did last season.

Maryland should also be able to cut down on its high percentage of careless turnovers without Faust.

In what turned out to be his last game as a Terp – a first-round loss to Florida State in the ACC tournament – Faust committed seven turnovers. Turgeon stuck with him that day largely because Smotrycz wasn’t available because of an injury.

Turgeon has taken the high road on all three transfers, even though Faust’s father, Anthony, took some not-so-veiled shots at his son’s former coach in an interview with the Washington Post. (The elder Faust declined comment to The Baltimore Sun.)

I think while it’s not addition by subtraction with all three of the players – as well as with assistant coach Scott Spinelli, who is expected to go to Boston College – I do think the chemistry should improve and Turgeon and the Terps can try to move past what was a very tough season on and off the court. 


To whom does new Maryland commit Michal Cekovsky compare?

Jonas Shaffer: Because we're all really living in Frank Kaminsky's world, naturally the most immediate comparison for a slim 7-footer with a Euro-style game and a "-sky" suffix is the Wisconsin star.

How unfair. Not just for Cekovsky, whom many Maryland fans might have first thought was kin of men's soccer coach Sasho Cirovski when they scrolled past the headline. Expecting any big man, anywhere, to turn out to be the guy who can put up 28 points against one of the nation's best defenses is silly.