#5 Maryland Men's Basketball 2015-2016 Preview

Maryland Terrapins

2015-2016 Overall Rank: #5
Conference Rank: #1 Big Ten

Maryland Team Page#5 Maryland Men's Basketball 2015-2016 PreviewBuy Maryland Basketball Tickets

The years of the Maryland Terrapins being a heartbroken third wheel (or, more recently, seventh wheel) in the Atlantic Coast Conference are over. Rather than following the coattails of North Carolina and Duke, Maryland stands atop the Big Ten this season as the conference’s best team. Last year, the team’s first in its new conference, was a coming-out party but an unexpected one. The Terrapins weren’t supposed to be that good in 2014-15. This year, the story is different. Big talent and lofty goals come with extremely high expectations and no Tobacco Road kings to blame failure on if Mark Turgeon and company can’t get over the hump.

2014-15 Record: 28-7, 14-4
2014-15 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Mark Turgeon
Coach Record: 87-50 at Maryland, 337-209 overall

Who’s Out:
Last year’s surprise 28-win squad was led by extremely young talent but also a group of former senior transfers, all of whom moved on after exhausting their eligibility. Forward Dez Wells played three years for the Terrapins after transferring from Xavier. Guard Richaud Pack moved on twice between undergrad and grad school before finishing up at Maryland last season. And forward Evan Smotrycz played a couple seasons at Michigan before switching to the Terps. The three elder statesmen made up half of the team’s top-six rotation and combined to average nearly 26 points and 13 rebounds per game. Wells and Smotrycz especially were key leadership cogs on this roster, having played for Coach Turgeon a couple of seasons. Few other players on the roster had that type of production and experience in the system. While the team was clearly leaning younger, losing three vets could be a big loss for Maryland this year as it tries to win more than one NCAA Tournament game for the first time in more than a decade.

Who’s In:
Picking up the slack will be a few youngsters but also another group of transfers at the team’s disposal. The freshmen class is small in elite prospects but led by one of the best in 5-star center Diamond Stone. Stone isn’t one of these pencil-thin “centers” who leap out of the gym but can’t control anyone with their body. Instead, he’s a load in the paint who will demand double-teams as soon as he learns the offense. If he gets his conditioning to the point where he can play 20-30 minutes per game, he will be a huge asset in every sense of the word. The other freshman contributor is actually coming off of a redshirt. Ivan Bender sat all of last season, as did junior-college sophomore transfer Jaylen Brantley. The pair has upside, but it remains to be seen what they will offer this season. The opposite could be true of a pair of transfers now officially eligible for the Terps. Duke transfer Rasheed Sulaimon and Georgia Tech transfer Robert Carter don’t have the highest ceilings but are raring to go. Both were double-figure scorers at one time at their previous home and bring that upperclassmen experience that just went out the door the end of last season.

Who to Watch:
The star on Maryland is sophomore Melo Trimble. He took the Big Ten by storm as a freshman last year, being voted as a First-Team All-Big Ten member by the media and being placed on the Second-Team by the coaches. He led the Terps in scoring, assists, steals, made threes and made free throws. His .444/.863/.412 slash line is something even seniors dream about. There is no telling what his ceiling will look like as he matures and develops other aspects of his game. The same goes for fellow sophomores Dion Wiley, Jared Nickens and Michal Cekovsky. All three averaged at least 12 MPG and played in at least 30 contests as a freshman. Cekovsky, at 7-1, helps make up one of the most formidable frontcourts in all of college basketball. Along with returning star Jake Layman and rotation bigs Domonte Dodd and Jonathan Graham, the Terrapins have seven players 6-8 or taller who will be battling for minutes this season. Layman is a special talent to keep an eye on. Last year, he finished first on the team in rebounds, second in blocks and third in threes. That varied skill set is hard to replicate and hard to defend.

Final Projection:
As always with a team that has heavy turnover, early success will come down to Coach Turgeon finding the best rotation that works. Besides heavy minutes for Trimble and Layman, there is a lot of playing time to be divvied up between returning role players, eligible transfers and incoming freshmen. Last season, Maryland played ten guys double-digit minutes a night. That seems a tad high to field the optimal lineup, but this season, there are as many as 12 players worthy of such a spot. Either way, with this type of size, depth and play-making, Maryland is the early favorite in the Big Ten and odds are in its favor to go deeper in the NCAA Tournament than it has since the 2002 title.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA

Projected Starting Five:
Melo Trimble, Sophomore, Guard, 16.2 points per game
Rasheed Sulaimon, Senior, Guard, DNP last season
Jared Nickens, Sophomore, Forward, 6.1 points per game
Jake Layman, Senior, Forward, 12.5 points per game
Damonte Dodd, Junior, Forward, 4.0 points per game

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 69.1 (128th in nation, 9th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 63.4 (87, 5)
Field-Goal Percentage: 44.0 (139, 7)
Field-Goal Defense: 39.5 (30, 1)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.4 (66, 4)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 37.6 (55, 4)
Free-Throw Percentage: 75.6 (14, 3)
Rebound Margin: 1.5 (127, 7)
Assists Per Game: 10.7 (287, 11)
Turnovers Per Game: 12.3 (156, 11)

Madness 2016 NBA Draft Rankings:
#11 Diamond Stone
#14 Ivan Rabb
#18 Melo Trimble

Madness 2015 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#6 Diamond Stone


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