Maryland is the gift we didn’t know we had.

The Maryland Terrapins Men’s basketball contest against George Mason University has been cancelled due to a positive Covid test on the Patriots roster. Saint Peters will fill in on short notice this Friday, 3:00 pm at the Xfinity Center. 

As of now, the team will still play James Madison University this Saturday at the Convocation Center in Harrisonburg. It will be the first away game for the Terps and it gives another opportunity to watch this team prepare for the Big 10/ACC challenge game against Clemson. 

This recent cancellation (third game overall) gives an unsettling feeling that this could be a common trend throughout this season. Instead of being upset by the potential of losing opportunities to watch, we should appreciate every chance to experience the joy they have been so far. 

With the holiday season upon us, the glimmer of this year’s team has many of us becoming hopelessly optimistic. Like any holiday gift, we have to ask ourselves…is this better than we thought we were getting? Is it a knockoff brand that will break under pressure? Will this gift to be taken away?

While our parents aren’t home, lets take a few minutes to look at the gift, shake it up and see if we can guess what they are! 

At first glance…

The box isn’t as large as last years… 

If I’m being forward, Mark Turgeon and company entered this season with questions on how they planned to find a presence near the basket. We have been spoiled in the past with consecutive seasons of NBA talent at the forward position including Jalen Smith, Bruno Fernando, Justin Jackson and Jake Layman. Who steps forward? Besides losing Jalen Smith to the NBA, the Terps also lost Joshua Tomaic, Rickey Lindo, and the Mitchell twins to transfer. To say the Terps had a big loss at the position could be translated quite literally. In fact, it was over thirty-four feet and over eleven hundred fifty pounds of loss. To put that into perspective, that is half the height of the Rockefeller Christmas tree and over half a ton of loss. 

The Terps rebounded by finding some deals on transfers Galin Smith and Jairus Hamilton. Both players started in their first game for Maryland and both players have shown different bells and whistles that provide flashes of excitement. 

Galin has been more than advertised shooting an illuminating 84% from the field and providing a physical presence on the glass. He also gives the Terps another senior mentor on the court each and every night. While he does not show the range as some of the modern college forwards, his hook shot near the basket could be the rally stopper and scoring threat that will open up the shooting chances for the hot- handed guards. 

For those who do not know, Jairus Hamilton is the four star transfer out of Boston College. Hamilton had been quiet downtown until showing off his range against Mount Saint Mary’s. In that game, Jairus helped lead the Terps on a 21-0 run and shot 3 of 4 from beyond the finishing with 13 total points. While we have not seen the consistent offensive sets for Hamilton, don’t be surprised if he shakes out more minutes and starts becoming one of Mark Turgeon’s favorite mismatches against Big 10 opponents. 


It didn’t fall a part but we can’t tell how things will shake out. 

The early schedule has been a gift in itself. Old Dominion is a team on the rise with an underrated coaching staff, Navy just knocked off Georgetown, and Mount Saint Mary’s gave Maryland all could hand until the final five minutes. Are we really looking at a potential tournament team or just a flash deal against bargain bin competition?  

Maryland won all three contests by at least eighteen points and an average of twenty-two points per game. This early start presented the Terrapins its first votes in the Top-25 poll which according to preseason rankings had this team predicted below .500 in the Big 10. With all due respect to James Madison and St. Peters, the Terps faithful will be anxiously awaiting the games against Clemson and Rutgers over the next few games to try and gauge exactly how this team holds up against the power five opponents. Will they break under pressure?  Will they have the depth to compete? 

While Chol Marial started his first ever game for Maryland, he was targeted by Mount St. Mary’s early and his lack of foot speed was taken advantage of until Galin Smith provided some relief. When Galin later notched his fourth foul of the contest, Marial looked like a lump of coal and the team had to provide help on defense leaving open shooters. There is no doubt that Marials development has come a long way and he has produced some exciting moments, but the lack of foot speed and difficulty holding onto the basketball leaves us reaching for the cookies and eggnog. He will need to continue his development before we can feel comfortable giving him meaningful minutes against tougher competition. 

Places gift down…

Appreciate the gift we currently have. 

Early optimism has me thinking this team is legitimate. College basketball has been more competitive each and every year. While no team was from a power five conference, the bridge between conference levels of play seems to be shorter each and every year. This team can compete within the Big 10 if they can continue their course and should provide a season full of excitement for the fan base. 

That being said, we should take a moment to appreciate college basketball and this team. These kids have worked hard to be more than the media has told them they were. Their development is a testament to the players and the coaching staff. Mark Turgeon has loaded up his sleigh and passed out a team that is playing an exciting brand of basketball. They are shooting 43.9% from beyond the arc, have a plus nine rebounding margin, and are averaging over eighty points per game while holding opponents to sixty points per contest. 

While writing this article, The Baltimore Ravens are kicking off on a Wednesday, Maryland football had its game cancelled versus Michigan, and the basketball team has rescheduled as many opponents as they have faced. 

We were all shocked when last years team didn’t get a chance to play in the tournament. We remember the sickening feeling hearing the player’s reactions. We didn’t get to cheer them on one more time like we expected and it hurt. 

Currently, while my phone explodes with cancelation notifications I am getting a familiar feeling. We are watching teams bow out of games across the NFL and NCAA so much it has been a part of our normal. Instead of asking what this team could be, let us enjoy who they are. This team is a joy to watch. They are our holiday gift. If we are good and find a little holiday magic, we might even get a chance to enjoy this team well into March. 

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