With a new college basketball season approaching, BTPowerhouse will continue to preview the 2017-18 season. This time, featuring the Maryland Terrapins.
Last season was a successful one for head coach Mark Turgeon and company. Turgeon’s squad finished the season with a record of 24-9 (12-6) in the Big Ten and made the NCAA Tournament as a sixth seed. Unfortunately, the Terrapins were bounced in the first round by 11 seeded Xavier. Let’s take a look at the top three storylines for Maryland basketball as the program embarks on a new season.
Who replaces Melo Trimble?
Melo Trimble was one of the most successful players in Terrapins history, so you have to mention his name because of the production he had during his three year career. The former Maryland point guard finished his college basketball career leading the Terps in scoring in all three seasons with the team. Trimble finished 13th in scoring with 1,658 points and second in free throws in program history.
Besides replacing Trimble’s production, someone will have to replace his leadership qualities. After all, Trimble helped lead the Terps to three NCAA Tournament appearances.
Turgeon will be searching for someone to take over Trimble’s role. At the moment, it’s tough to say who that player will be. It could be senior guard Jared Nickens, who has had a role off the bench most of his career, but he is arguably the most experienced player on Turgeon’s team. Without a clear-cut leader, Turgeon will have an early season challenge of finding out who will fill that leadership vacancy.
Mark Turgeon will be heavily counting on his backcourt
Although this group is somewhat unproven, there are some worthy Trimble replacement candidates. Look to sophomores Kevin Huerter and Anthony Cowan to serve as backcourt stability that will help the Terps get back in the 2018 NCAA Tournament.
Huerter is one of the better shooters on the team returning from last season. Huerter finished second in three-pointers attempted, third in three-point percentage and fourth in free-throw percentage on the team last season. Huerter’s continued improvement will be key for Maryland’s offense due to his ability to space the floor.
Cowan will take over the point guard duties this season. He proved last season that he is fully capable in that role, averaging 3.7 assists per game, tied for team best with Trimble. It will be more of a challenge for Cowan this season because he will be counted on for leadership and production in both scoring as well as regularly setting up his teammates.
Cowan and the team will most likely take their bumps and bruises, but with former collegiate point guard and head coach Turgeon by his side, Cowan should have the Terps ready for a Big Ten Championship challenge once conference play begins.
It should be the Justin Jackson show
Jackson has the most potential out of the three dynamic sophomores to take control of this team. Jackson finished last season as the team’s second leading scorer and led the team in rebounds. Jackson has the ability to stretch the floor, shooting 43.8% from three on 3.2 attempts per game last season. Coming into a new season, NBA scouts have taken notice of Jackson.
It has been noted that Jackson is intriguing because of his 7-foot-3 wingspan, allowing him to play above the rim. The sophomore also possesses NBA level strength for banging with Big Ten big men in the paint. But what makes Jackson special is that he has the speed and athleticism to switch and guard multiple positions. Jackson has all the tools to be a special player on both ends of the floor. Don’t be surprised to see his name on the 2017-18 All Big Ten First Team.