Maryland basketball has had an interesting year to say the least. Justin Jackson went down early. Ivan Bender followed. Bruno Fernando and Michal Cekovsky both missed multiple games due to injuries. Somehow, Maryland finds themselves on the outside looking in, still on the bubble. Now clearly it will take a lot of work to get into the Tournament. (Most likely the Big Ten championship). But there are reasons that the Terps are still fighting for a postseason berth in the middle of February. Four to be exact.
Anthony Cowan Jr. has taken the Big Ten by storm. After Melo Trimble went pro, Cowan took over the leadership role of the team. He is no doubt the best point guard in the conference, and his stats prove it. Cowan leads the team in scoring with 15.9, leads the team in assists with 4.4, and averages 5.1 rebounds standing at 6’0. Not to mention the fact that he leads the Big Ten in minutes played and minutes per game. (37). Cowan ranks second in the Big Ten in free throw percentage, shooting 84%. Not only does Cowan deserve First Team All-Big Ten, but he should be in the conversation for the Big Ten Player of the Year as well.
Along with Cowan, Kevin Huerter should be up there in the player of the year race. Huerter is breaking three point records left and right and is Maryland’s best overall performer. Even though Cowan has shown he is the leader, Huerter is always the guy making big plays on both ends of the floor in crunch time. Huerter is averaging 14.7 points per game and boasting an impressive 43% from deep. His 34 minutes per game also puts him third in the Big Ten in that category. Huerter went from being just a three point specialist in his freshman year to one of the most well-rounded players in all of college basketball.
Darryl Morsell gets overlooked at times because he’s not like most college basketball players in today’s game. He doesn’t rely on the deep ball and looks to do damage at the rim or midrange. (The lost art of the game but that’s for a different argument). Morsell puts up 9 points per contest but has been Maryland’s most consistent rebounder since being put in the starting lineup. Over Maryland’s last 9 games, Morsell has averaged 7 rebounds per contest. He is listed at 6’4. Obviously Morsell won’t be first or second All-Big Ten, but there is no reason that he doesn’t deserve a spot on the all-freshman team. This kid is going to be a monster for the Terrapins in the near future, regardless if he develops a three point shot or not.
Another big time freshman along with Morsell. Bruno Fernando has been inconsistent at times, but when he is on his game, very few can stop him. The best part about Bruno is that he’s still extremely raw, meaning he will only improve as he gets older. In the game against Nebraska last night, Mark Turgeon ran the offense through Fernando. A lot to ask for from a freshman with the season basically on the line. Fernando finished with 21 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists. His performance in the biggest game of the season speaks for itself. Overall, the big man from Angola is posting 10 points, 6 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game this season. Fernando and Morsell should both be on the Big Ten All-Freshman team.
Those four players aren’t the only reason Maryland still has hope however. The role players have played well all season, Dion Wiley and Jared Nickens being the main secondary scorers. Joshua Tomaic is coming into his own out of nowhere. Cekovsky has had his best season in his four year career as well. Like it or not, Mark Turgeon has done a great job with this team. As much as people love to blame Turgeon for Maryland’s troubles, the improvement from the beginning of the year to now is fantastic. (Turgeon’s job is safe by the way so everyone can get over that one).
Cowan, Huerter, Morsell and Fernando should all get spots somewhere in the Big Ten honors. Will they get what they deserve? Probably not. Maryland isn’t Michigan State, Purdue or Ohio State. All four guys are underclassmen. If they stay for their entire college careers, there is a chance Maryland could have four new retired jersey’s and another National Championship hanging in the rafters. The future is bright.