Mar 22, 2015; Columbus, OH, USA; Maryland Terrapins head coach Mark Turgeon speaks during a press conference after the game against the West Virginia Mountaineers in the third round of the 2015 NCAA Tournament at Nationwide Arena. West Virginia won 69-59. Mandatory Credit: Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports
It’s always a tough pill to swallow when your season ends with a loss in a game that you felt you could win. The Maryland Terrapins suffered a heart-wrenching defeat in the third round of the NCAA Tournament Sunday to the West Virginia Mountaineers. The loss has to sting, but the future is very bright for the Maryland basketball program.
This Terps team certainly exceeded the expectations many experts had for them. In their inaugural season in the Big Ten conference, Maryland went 28-7 overall and 14-4 in the conference. Coming into the season, Mark Turgeon’s seat had to be heating up, following the mass exodus of four rotation players from the season before, including guards Nick Faust (Long Beach State) and Seth Allen (Virginia Tech).
Turgeon didn’t panic, however. He had faith in his coaching staff and the players that he had coming in. The Terps’ performance this season further affirmed his belief. This was a great start to the a new era of Maryland basketball, but this is only the beginning. The only major loss for this team should be senior Dez Wells. Wells did it all for Maryland this year. For his career in College Park, he averaged 14.3 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 2.6 assists per game.
Wells will surely be missed, but no need to worry. The Terps will be just fine. For starters, Melo Trimble is a star in the making. Trimble was one of many standout freshmen in college basketball this season, averaging 16.2 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 3.0 assists per game. He was great for Maryland this year and it appears that the sky is the limit for this kid. Jake Layman, the other member of the Terps’ “Big Three” this season, is also expected to return to the team next season, despite him being projected as a possible first-rounder in the upcoming NBA Draft.
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Trimble and Layman together for one more year sets a solid foundation for another NCAA Tournament run. Freshmen Jared Nickens and Dion Wiley will be counted on for bigger roles next season. Nickens seems to be more of an offensive threat thus far. He shot 39 percent from behind the arc this season and had a breakout game in the Round of 64 with 14 points against Valparaiso. Wiley is not the shooter that Nickens is, but he is still very talented and a pretty good athlete, so expect a breakout season for him next year.
Dec 3, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets forward Robert Carter, Jr. (4) celebrates after beating the Illinois Fighting Illini at Hank McCamish Pavilion. Georgia Tech won 67-64. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports
Another big point of upside for Turgeon’s squad next season is the addition of big man Robert Carter, who sat out this season after transferring from Georgia Tech. Carter averaged 10.5 points and 7.4 rebounds during his two seasons with the Yellow Jackets. He is projected to grab a starting spot and will play an integral role in the team’s success. His addition is a huge boost because he is a proven big who can help out the other young guys like Michal Cekovsky and Damonte Dodd.
Let’s not forget that Maryland is also in play to land Diamond Stone, who is currently rated the No. 2 center in the Class of 2015. Stone is the Terps’ prized target right now and if they can persuade him to leave the state of Wisconsin, it would be an enormous steal. If they do, in fact, snag Stone, they will form one of the most formidable frontcourts in the nation. Stone is a rare talent and very well could be the piece that gets Maryland over the hump.
Even though the season did not end quite how the Terps had envisioned, it was a huge step in the right direction. This chapter may be over, but there’s much more to the story.