Maryland Terrapins 2016-17 Preview
Melo Trimble could have departed College Park for good and left the Maryland Terrapins without a returning starter for the first time since freshman eligibility was restored in 1972-73. Instead, the point guard opted at the last minute to remain with the Terrapins for his junior season and provide a boost to a program coming off its first Sweet 16 trip since 2003. It’ll take more than just Trimble, though, for Maryland to earn its third straight NCAA Tournament trip (Play College Basketball)
The Terps relied primarily on Robert Carter Jr. and Diamond Stone in the post last year, and both turned pro with eligibility remaining. Their backups must now fill considerably larger roles, though both have multiple years in coach Mark Turgeon’s system. Senior Damonte Dodd owns 45 career starts and ranks 16th in school history with 90 blocks. Junior Michal Cekovsky shot 53.6 percent from the field over the last two seasons.
Sophomore Ivan Bender, a capable defender, also figures to contribute after dealing with NCAA eligibility issues and an ACL recovery the last two years. Turgeon also landed graduate transfer L.G. Gill, who averaged 10.1 points and 6.5 rebounds at Duquesne last season.
Trimble is the centerpiece of Maryland’s offense. But Turgeon is excited about his entire backcourt, which could be as deep as the guard rotation the Terps deployed two seasons ago. Freshman Anthony Cowan is more of a pass-first point guard than Trimble, and Turgeon will get both players on the floor simultaneously at times. That allows Trimble to move off the ball more frequently than in his first two seasons. Maryland is also hopeful to get sophomore wing Dion Wiley back to full strength after he missed last season with a torn right meniscus.
Jared Nickens never established a rhythm as Trimble, Jake Layman and Rasheed Sulaimon handled most of Maryland’s perimeter minutes last year. Layman and Sulaimon have graduated, and the Terps need more from Nickens, who shot just 26.1 percent from 3-point range in league play last year. Junior guard Jaylen Brantley, Trimble’s backup a year ago, also returns. Freshman Kevin Huerter is an exceptional shooter with a good feel for the game, while Turgeon sees newcomer Justin Jackson as a point forward type with the potential to develop an interior game.
Maryland waded into the graduate transfer pool and added Duquesne forward L.G. Gill. Anthony Cowan should earn time immediately. Wing Kevin Huerter played on the USA Basketball U-18 National Team this summer, and Canadian small forward Justin Jackson was a welcome spring signee. The Terps signed the athletic Micah Thomas and Joshua Tomaic to bolster their frontcourt.
Few saw Maryland’s breakout 28–7 season coming two years ago. In the spotlight from the start last season, the Terps went 27–9 and showed minimal improvement from November to March. There aren’t the same expectations now, but the hopes are that the Maryland Terrapins will be settling in as a consistent top-25 program once again.