The 2013-2014 Maryland basketball season brought about much frustration to an already impatient team and fan base. This was supposed to be the year Maryland started to turn the corner and at least get back into the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2010. Why did this not happen? Let’s take a look.
The glaringly obvious is that first and foremost Maryland did not have a true point guard. This is a team with many good pick and pop shooters as well as many guys who can effectively put the ball on the floor, drive, and finish. Unfortunately these skills could not be properly utilized because of the fact that this team did not have a point guard with ability to put teammates in good position to use their talents and score and take care of the ball not turning it over seemingly every play.
Seth Allen is a two man (shooting guard) playing the point position which is never a good thing to do. Allen, a sophomore, is an extremely skilled player and if put in the right position, (shooting guard) could average near 20 ppg next season. Obviously, with the lack of depth at point guard he had to spend most of his time there. The problem with him running the point is that he has a score first mentality. Not that this a necessarily a bad thing, but it is when you are a point guard and throughout the season he would continually look to get his own rather than set up his teammates. In effect of him taking many shots it caused the rest of the team to get a little greedy at times.
Since players did not get the ball as much as they would like you would see a lot of bad shots thrown up every single game by those players. Although Roddy Peters did show occasional flashes of skill and being able to get passed defenders, most of the time he looked like a JV high school player going up against a varsity team especially in ACC play. He was simply overmatched and had no confidence.
The bottom line is that Maryland has to hope that McDonalds All American point guard Romelo “Melo” Trimble is every bit as good as Rivals and ESPN rate him because the talent next year will go to waste without a player to “flip the switch” and put them in good spots on the floor to score.
The other problem that most people want to ignore is the coaching. One could make excuses saying Turgeon did not have a good point guard or this was a young team but they were also poorly coached. There is no other way to say it Mark Turgeon was awful. Until about the middle of the season every single game Turgeon would institute these “line changes” taking out 4-5 players at a time. This coaching tactic is unheard of. It takes guys who were playing well out of rhythm and if nothing else just looks silly and unintelligent. Why did he do this you ask? No clue. To his credit after a year and a half of doing this it seemed as though he finally realized how ridiculous of a tactic it was and stopped doing it the last half of this year.
On the offensive side of the ball there was absolutely no movement among the players and you saw constant passing along the perimeter. It looked as though Maryland was trying to do nothing else but get a good 3 point look. The reason Turgeon is at fault here is that although it was difficult to move the ball well without a decent point guard why for the last year and a half did he not have the Terps big men set more picks for the wingmen or the guy with the ball to get free? The Terps had guys in Dez Wells, Nick Faust, and Seth Allen who could drive and finish very well and with the big setting more picks they would have more open lanes or if the defense collapsed on say Nick Faust driving in he could kick it back out to Jake Layman, Seth Allen, and Evan Smotycrz who shot the ball very well when they had open looks.
My point is, first, Turgeon has now had three years to get a point guard and since he still has not been able to get one he should have adapted more to help this team be successful and that is having guys moving nonstop on offense with the big men setting picks. It is not a very difficult concept to grasp but Turgeon the last two years has not been able to get guys moving on offense. Another thing that makes him very unlikable is that he did in fact throw a few guys under the bus and call them out on national television. On one such occasion after Maryland had upset Duke two years ago at Comcast the last play of the game was very questionable for many reasons. The Terps were up 83-81 with about 3 seconds left in the game to which Duke was in bounding the ball on their end with no timeouts left. Mark Turgeon, however, for some unknown reason decided to bail them out and call a timeout himself. This is a classic coaching mistake letting the other team who is scrambling around in the last seconds set their offense up and draw a play. As it played out Duke was able to execute a perfect inbounds play and get about as good of a shot they could hope for but fortunately they missed and Maryland won. What was worse was that in the postgame interview Turgeon said to the reporter that they called the timeout to set up the defense, but then went on to call the kids out saying to the reporter that he knew they would not get it right but decided to go with it anyway. There so many things wrong with his statement.
First off, why was he so angry after getting the biggest win of his life? Second, why call the play if he knew the kids would execute it well? Third, why throw them under the bus like that? If you, Turgeon, knew the kids were not going to do it right does that not say something about how you’re teaching it? Do they not respect you? To quote Remember the Titans “attitude [of the team] reflects leadership.” Ask Randy Edsall about how bad throwing guys under the bus publicly can be for your team. The result of that was the biggest exodus since Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt.
No one wanted to play for Edsall and many players transferred out of Maryland. No one knows what Mark Turgeon is really like with the players, but if it’s anything like it is when he is talking to the media throwing guys under the bus on national TV on a couple of occasions it is not great. Should Mark Turgeon be fired after this? This may come as a surprise but Mark Turgeon should be given one more try at Maryland. As bad as this Maryland team has been the last 3 years Turgeon was not exactly dealt a great hand to start with and this team is still very young with a great recruiting class coming in. Turgeon needs to be given one more year because if they were to fire him now 3 bad things will happen.
One is that those great recruits as well as current players might decide to go somewhere else if he is fired. Another is that starting over is never easy especially when you have a young team who was just getting used to Turgeon’s style of coaching and asking them to adapt to another coach would be difficult. Lastly, Maryland just does not have the financial capability to buy Turgeon out and doing so would put them into even more debt.
Now to the good news.
In their last season of being in the ACC the Terps at least went out with a bang beating the ACC champion and top 5 ranked Virginia. The game was crazy. I was in the student section and I have never heard it so loud the whole crowd especially student section was going ballistic. Now that the season is over everyone can start fresh and get better. As mentioned earlier Maryland is still very young and has a plethora of talent up and down a very deep roster. These kids will only get better and with the great recruiting class coming in featuring a McDonald’s All American point guard to an already deep team spells trouble for the rest of the B1G.
If Romelo Trimble plays well with all the talent Maryland has around him they have a very high ceiling this year and next. By high ceiling I mean possible Big Ten championship contenders next season. It really looks as though next season could be the year Maryland returns to the Big Dance and may actually do some damage. Go Terps!