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.
Mark Turgeon has seemed down lately on his freshman class. Should Terps fans be concerned?
Jeff Barker: Well, we know how transparent Turgeon is, right? So it wasn’t a surprise to hear him say of the four freshmen after Wednesday night’s game:
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“I think the problem is everybody is telling these guys how good they are. And they're listening, instead of listening to me.”
None of the newbies -- Shaquille Cleare, Jake Layman, Seth Allen and Charles Mitchell -- distinguished themselves in the Monmouth game. Layman was benched in the first half for not keeping up with his studies. Allen had seven turnovers.
This has always been a confident class. I have an enduring image of a video of these guys at the Capital Classic long before this season. Wearing big smiles, the Maryland commitments draped their arms around one another when they saw a camera and yelled, "Go Terps!"
“Years from now, I think they'll say this is the best class to come through Maryland" in a long time, Mitchell said then.
Overconfident perhaps? I don’t think so. You need a certain athletic arrogance.
But let’s be realistic. Unless you’re a prodigy -- think Joe Smith in ’93-’94 -- you don’t become an overnight sensation.
Turgeon has often said he expects his freshmen to be “up and down.”
So, yes, Allen isn’t yet running the offense the way Turgeon would like, Layman is shooting 32 percent, and Turgeon said Cleare “was lost, spinning in circles” against Monmouth.
But this is pretty standard stuff for freshmen, even talented ones. They’re still adjusting to the “speed of the game,” as coaches are so fond of saying.
But it’s more than that. Above all, freshmen must learn what it takes to play college ball – the training, the hard practices. There aren’t a lot of seniors on this team to help teach them. Sean Mosley was good at that last year.
Consider what Dez Wells said the other night: “From high school they're probably used to just dominating, doing what they want.”
Wells is just a sophomore, but he’s practically a wizened veteran on this callow team.
What is Maryland's biggest Achilles heel as the Terps head toward their ACC opener next month?
Don Markus: Everyone seems to be focused on Maryland's high turnover rate after the Terps had a season-high 23 in Wednesday's 71-38 win over Monmouth. Considering that Maryland's season average of 15 giveaways a game is all but negating a vast improvement in assists (18.8, third in the country and second in the ACC), that is a legitimate concern for second-year coach Mark Turgeon.
I believe that problem is fixable, and the Terps have proved that they can keep the turnovers down for long stretches, as they did in the second half of their best game this season, a 20-point win at Northwestern last month in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.
Considering that junior point guard Pe'Shon Howard has the best assist-to-turnover ratio (6.0-1.9) in the ACC and one of the best in the country, Turgeon can get a handle on that by just telling freshman Seth Allen that his minutes will decrease as his turnovers increase. Allen had seven against Monmouth in 15 minutes.
I think Maryland's biggest issue heading into the ACC early next month is its outside shooting in general and its 3-point shooting in general.