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Sports Terps Tracking the Terps

Terps Trio: Point guards, Big Ten football rivals and Will Ulmer

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.

Is Maryland better off developing Roddy Peters and Seth Allen as its point guards rather than bringing in Antonio Barton for one season?

Don Markus: A lot of college coaches, Mark Turgeon included, want to take advantage of the NCAA’s fairly recent legislation that allows players who have graduated from one school to finish their careers at another as long as they can find a graduate program that doesn’t exist at the first school.

Getting Logan Aronhalt last season was a big boost for the Terps in terms of his 3-point shooting, basketball IQ and off-court maturity, but in the end he wasn’t the difference between Maryland making the NCAA tournament or settling for the NIT.

I think Barton, who played three seasons at Memphis and is now looking to finish his career elsewhere after graduating, could have a bigger impact than Aronhalt did in terms of wins and losses. But I also think the Terps could be an NCAA tournament team with a combination of Allen and Peters running the point.

Just as it was in Terrell Stoglin’s best longterm interest to learn how to be a point guard – something he never did in his two years in College Park – I think the same holds true for Allen. At his size, he’s never going to make the NBA as a shooting guard no matter how gifted athletically he is and how well he can shoot it from the outside.

Allen was streaky as both a shooter and ballhandler as a freshman, but he demonstrated more of a willingness to share the ball than Stoglin did. I know that Turgeon doesn’t want to hand the responsibility of running the team immediately over to Peters, who only made the transition to being a fulltime point guard last summer and then spent the past few months rehabbing after shoulder surgery.

If Barton decides to go elsewhere – he told me Monday that he has 24 schools interested, including Syracuse and Kansas State – I don’t think the Terps are in terrible shape. I can see Turgeon using Allen and Peters similarly to how Tom Crean used Jordan Hulls, a senior, and Yogi Ferrell, a freshman, last season in Bloomington. It didn’t work out too badly for the Hoosiers until the two undersized guards were overmatched by Syracuse in the NCAA tournament.

In a way, Barton’s presence could ultimately be a deterrent to the development of either Allen or Peters – or both. Given the way the game is going to “small ball” on all levels -- you can thank the Miami Heat for that -- I can see Turgeon playing Allen and Peters together, with either Nick Faust and Dez Wells on the wings and either Evan Smotrycz or Jake Layman as stretch 4s, and having a rotation of Shaquille Cleare, Charles Mitchell and Damonte Dodd as the lone big man.

I know that Turgeon lost another player looking for a new home when Eli Carter decided on Florida this week. Vertrail Vaughns, a shooting guard transfer from George Mason, announced he was going to North Texas. That leaves Barton, who said in our interview that he will meet with Turgeon and his staff when he’s back in town next week for his daughter’s birthday.

Stability at the point guard position is important for Maryland to keep progressing under Turgeon, and Barton would certainly give the Terps more of an experienced player at that position than either Allen or Peters. But I don’t think Plan B – in this case, sticking with what you have – is such a bad move for Maryland going into Turgeon’s third season.

Who might emerge as Maryland's football rival when the Terps join the Big Ten?

Jeff Barker: Here's the good news and the bad news about Maryland football's rivalry situation.

The bad news is that Maryland has no readily apparent rival lurking in the Big Ten.

The "good" news is that it had no compelling rivalry in the ACC either, so fans aren't losing much in that regard.

Sure, Maryland long had Virginia as a crossover rival. The Terps and Cavs played every year despite being in different divisions. The Terps have played Virginia more than any other team, and there have been some memorable games. But the rivalry isn't red-hot. The West Virginia rivalry held at least as much promise.

When Maryland joins the Big Ten in 2014, it will be in a division with Penn State, Rutgers. Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and Indiana.

Might Maryland-Penn State spark a rivalry of sorts? The Nittany Lions dominated Maryland continually through the schools' last meeting in 1993.  The series was extremely one-sided.

But Penn State and Maryland have long recruited heavily in each other's states. Geographic proximity is always a good start for a spirited competition.

Here's the thing about rivalries-- they are often made rather than born.  Like snowstorms, they are created by a number of factors coming together at once, sometimes unexpectedly.  Often, rivalries are precipitated by memorable games or moments. That's not the type of thing that you can predict.

I must add that I'm going to miss the Duke-Maryland men's basketball games. There's one more coming next season in Durham.

Sure, the Cameron Crazies hated North Carolina more than Maryland and chanted "Not our rivals!" at the Terps. But that's how you knew they cared. Otherwise, they wouldn't have wasted their breath.

What can Maryland fans expect from quarterback Will Ulmer?

Matt Bracken: At some point during the Terps’ recruitment of Ulmer, the four-star prospect sat down for some film study with Mike Locksley. During one session, the Maryland offensive coordinator popped in tape of a quarterback he coached before that shared some similarities with Ulmer. So who was this mystery signal-caller?

“Juice Williams,” Ulmer said. “[Locksley thought we were similar because of] just the dual-threat thing and making plays.”

In 2008, with Locksley serving as the Illini’s offensive coordinator, Williams threw for 3,173 yards and 22 touchdowns, completing 57.5 percent of his passes in addition to rushing for 719 yards and five touchdowns.

Ulmer was quickly sold on Locksley’s credentials as an offensive coordinator, and how he would fit into what Maryland wants to run.

“I think it’s an Oregon-type system, a zone pass and read type system,” Ulmer said. “It fits my style.”

Ulmer will have plenty of competition at quarterback once he arrives at Maryland. But just like the Terps’ QB recruit in the previous class – Gilman’s Shane Cockerille – Ulmer is a good enough athlete to play multiple positions. That’s obviously not the plan when you have someone as highly touted as Ulmer – or, for that matter, an Elite 11 guy like Cockerille. But the bottom line is that Maryland will have options under center.

Joe Patterson, Ulmer’s coach at St. John’s (D.C.), said the future Terp is “as fast an athlete as I’ve ever coached.” Patterson praised Ulmer for his work ethic and his accuracy.

“He can make every throw on the field,” Patterson said. “I think that honestly [the Terps] have a lot of young talent at skill positions. [Ulmer] complements what they already have. He gives them another weapon. Coach Locksley will certainly find a way to utilize his talents.”

don.markus@baltsun.com

jeff.barker@baltsun.com

mbracken@baltsun.com

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