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Turgeon Rejuvenating Maryland Basketball

Coach Mark Turgeon is bringing Maryland basketball back to the top

The University of Maryland Terrapins have had minimal success since legendary coach Gary Williams retired after their 2010-2011 season. During his 22 years as coach, Williams led the Terps to 14 NCAA tournaments, their only two final four appearances in history, and a national title in 2002. Since new head coach Mark Turgeon took over in 2011, Maryland has not returned to the NCAA tournament, but steady improvement and a strong recruiting class hope to bring them back to the top.

The Terrapins had a disappointing first season under new coach Mark Turgeon in 2011-12, going 17-15 and missing out on any post season play. The following season showed much improvement finishing with a record of 25-13. They were on the bubble of making the tournament after upsetting Duke late in the season, but ending up being put in the NIT tournament. They went on to lose to future division rival Iowa in the semi-finals of the NIT. This is the last season that Maryland will be an ACC team, and will be moving to a very competitive Big 10 conference. They hope to be instant contenders against Big 10 powerhouses such as Michigan State, Michigan, Ohio State, Indiana, Iowa and Wisconsin. 

Aside from losing big man Oleksiy (Alex) Len early to the NBA draft, the team returned a roster full of experienced and talented players this season. Junior guard Dez Wells led the team in scoring last season averaging 13.1 ppg and is at it again this season currently leading the team with 15.3 ppg. Fellow returning Junior Guard Nick Faust also contributes across the board putting up solid numbers as well as leadership. Other returnees include a list of talented sophomores: Guard/forward Jake Layman, center Shaquille Cleare, forward Charles Mitchell, and point guard Seth Allen. Layman is averaging 15 ppg and Mitchell is averaging 8.8 ppg as well as 6.6 rpg. Cleare has been a consistent presence in the paint showing improvements from last season. Allen was projected to be the starting point guard, but has not been able to play yet this season due to a broken bone in his foot and is not expected to return for a few more weeks.

Along with the promising returning members, coach Turgeon also added a few key recruits and transfers to this year's team. Michigan transfer Evan Smotrycz has added size and scoring to the team currently averaging 12.3 ppg and 6.7 rpg. He is great from beyond the arc and gives the terrapins another weapon. Freshman point guard Roddy Peters was ranked 52nd overall in ESPN’s class of 2013 and chose Maryland over top schools such as UCLA and Kansas. He has filled injured Seth Allen's role as full time starting point guard quite nicely leading the team in assists with 3.5 per game and averages 6.5 ppg. Three-star recruit center/forward Damonte Dodd has also contributed off the bench to help fill the shoes of Oleksiy Len.

A tournament berth is a legitimate goal for this year's solid Maryland team. So far they are 7-4 overall approaching the competitive ACC conference play. Next season, the goal will be much more. Coach Turgeon was able to get four four-star recruits to commit to his 2014-15 team, and he can expect the majority of his players to return from this season, making for a very talented roster. Three of the four recruits are within the top 70 of the ESPN top 100 of the class of 2014.Maryland is currently ranked 10th overall for their recruiting class this year.

Guards Romelo Trimble and Dion Wiley are both ranked within the top 50 and will add to the already deep list of talented guards bringing more offense and court vision. They both are terrific shooters who can play both guard positions. Bringing a whole lot of size to the team will be Trayvon Reed. The 7’1” center is a lanky player who has good mobility and can dominate inside. Only weighing in at around 210 pounds he will look to gain mass over the next year and will be an instant presence in the paint. Jared Nickens is another guard the team added with great size. He is a 6’6” swingman who can hit shots from all over the court and can be used in numerous positions.

Coach Turgeon’s team of young, experienced talent has the potential to make for a very exciting future for Maryland basketball. With the likeliness of returning members being very high and the outstanding recruiting class of 2014, Maryland may very well make its way back to the top of college basketball conversation.