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SportsTerpsTracking the Terps

How the Terps will handle Seth Allen's injury and their new season's expectations

BasketballMaryland TerrapinsCollege BasketballCollege SportsAtlantic Coast ConferenceAlex Len

How does the injury to point guard Seth Allen impact the rest of Mark Turgeon’s rotation?

Don Markus: If Turgeon goes ahead with his plan to use Dez Wells at point guard — a somewhat risky proposition, given the junior’s propensity for turnovers (108) last season — it likely means that one of the team’s sophomore big men will start.

With Wells at the point, junior Nick Faust (City) and sophomore Jake Layman on the wings and transfer Evan Smotrycz at what is now called the stretch-4 (a power forward who can shoot outside), it appears Turgeon’s will be left to start either Shaquille Cleare or Charles Mitchell up front.

Let’s say he starts the season with Cleare -- meaning Mitchell, freshman point guard Roddy Peters and freshman center Damonte Dodd will be coming off the bench. It also could mean that Varun Ram (River Hill), a feisty 5-foot-9, 150-pound point guard who transferred from Division III Trinity, might see some time.

What it doesn’t leave Turgeon is a scorer off the bench. Had Allen not fractured his foot, Turgeon might have considered using either Faust or Layman as a spark plug. It probably would have been Layman, because Faust is being counted on to be Maryland’s shutdown backcourt defender.

Peters is much more of a passer than a scorer, and for now, is much more comfortable in transition than in a half-court offense. That might work against many of Maryland’s nonconference opponents, but likely not against Connecticut in next Friday’s opener in Brooklyn, N.Y., or at Ohio State in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.

I still think Turgeon has plenty of scorers — chiefly Wells, Layman and Smotrycz, with Faust capable of putting up double-figures when needed. I think having Allen made the Terps much tougher to guard, but now teams can probably go more straight up in playing Wells to shoot and either Layman or Smotrycz to drive. Right now, I think Layman is Maryland’s most versatile offensive weapon.

One thing the injury to Allen does is force Turgeon to stick Peters in there for longer stretches earlier in the season. Teams will play off Peters until he proves he can consistently hit jump shots, which could clog driving lanes not only for the 6-4 guard from Suitland but for some of his teammates as well.

I also think Turgeon’s plan to “go small” might have to be put on hold until Allen gets back in late December or early January. That much time will give Cleare and Mitchell time to show whether they have made the jump from bench players backing up Alex Len to frontliners.

Last season, Turgeon used a 10-man rotation, which at times proved to be a little unwieldy when it came to getting enough court time for certain players. A couple of weeks ago, he seemed more comfortable with nine. Now he’s down to eight.

It will all start coming into focus — or at least it should — beginning next Friday night at the Barclays Center.


How much improvement do you expect from Maryland's men's basketball team this season?

Jeff Barker: Quite a bit.

It's hard to overstate the importance of continuity. Mark Turgeon's first team wasn't truly his. It was a collection of guys he inherited led by a talented scorer, Terrell Stoglin, who didn't pass or defend well enough to suit the coach.

Last season's Terps were a bit closer to a Turgeon team. They led the Atlantic Coast Conference in rebounding and had a rim protector in 7-footer Alex Len. But they made Turgeon, and Terps fans, squirm with their constant turnovers.

It's a hopeful sign for Maryland that two of its best games came at the end of the season: the ACC tournament upset of Duke and the National Invitation Tournament win at Alabama. The team was starting to see how good it could be. Len is in the NBA, but Dez Wells is back. I think we will see more games from Wells like his 30-point effort against Duke in the ACC tournament. He was feeling his way through his new team last season, could be turnover-prone, and was not always sure when to assert himself as a scorer and when to blend in. He'll begin this season as an unquestioned team leader.

Whatever success Wells — and Turgeon — has this season will come partly from each knowing what to expect of the other. The same can be said of the other Terps who were in their first season with Turgeon a year ago. They better understand, for example, the premium Turgeon places on defense and getting to the foul line.

Wells should have little doubt how much his scoring is needed this year. Maryland will have less of an inside presence without Len. It also will be missing injured point guard Seth Allen for a couple months.

I'd look for Wells to help fill the gap. Turgeon is going to ask a lot of him, including playing the point in Allen's absence. We'll find out whether he is up to the challenge.


There's no football game Saturday. What's a Terps football fan to do?

Jonas Shaffer: Why, I'm glad you asked that question. If you've gotten this far into Terps Trio, you've shown yourself to have a certifiable passion for Maryland athletics. Congratulations.

But are you much of a Terps historian? Did you know, for instance, that in 1937, Maryland threatened to cancel a game with the Syracuse football team unless the then-Orangemen benched their star African-American player?

It's true. If you have some time to kill this weekend, I would highly suggest reading Deadspin.com's "76 Years Later, Maryland Tries To Right A College Football Wrong," by former Washington City Paper columnist Dave McKenna.

I won't spoil the goods of McKenna's investigation into the backstory of the Syracuse player in question, Wilmeth Sidat-Singh, but I do feel compelled to note this much: There is a happy ending.

Maryland athletic director Kevin Anderson has "decided ... to have a ceremony honoring Sidat-Singh the next time the Syracuse football team came to town. That will take place next Saturday. The athletic department has reserved a suite in Byrd Stadium for Sidat-Singh's relatives."

There will be a remembrance and tears and a history lesson that, for all of society's problems, we have come a long way since 1937.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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BasketballMaryland TerrapinsCollege BasketballCollege SportsAtlantic Coast ConferenceAlex Len
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