The Terps did end up adding Rasheed Sulaimon, a transfer from Duke. There’s not much question about his ability…he was a highly regarded player coming out of HS and he had some strong moments in Durham. However, his time at Duke was riddled with off the court issues and he also had trouble fitting in on the court at times for K. Maryland needed a wing with the ability to shoot and score, though, and in terms of pure talent, he is a strong addition to an already deep team. How does he fit in terms of personality and mindset, though?
Otherwise, everyone appears to be healthy and there was no unexpected attrition to the roster.
I picked the Terps 2nd in April. That was before Sulaimon committed and before Caleb Swanigan decommitted from MSU. I think as of right now, the Terps have the most talent on paper of any team in the conference and they’re going to get a lot of mention as perhaps the best team in America heading into the season. However, I’ve got them 3rd instead of 1st for one reason…they have a tougher schedule than either MSU or IU have and that may well make the difference. The top 3 preseason teams only play each other once. MSU gets both of the others at home. IU gets MSU on the road and Maryland at home. The Terps obviously visit both EL and Bloomington. That is a difference maker, potentially and it’s why I have them with “only” 13 wins in the league.
Schedule isn’t the only issue in College Park, though. Despite adding a good deal of talent in the offseason, there are questions as to how it all fits together. Dez Wells was hugely important to last season’s Maryland team. He was the leader, emotionally and otherwise, and his toughness got them over the hump on many occasions. He’s gone and I’m not sure there’s any realistic candidate to fill that role. We’ve seen it before at Michigan State…talent is critcially important but it’s not the ONLY thing which matters, particularly if you’re talking about the difference between being very good and being great.
If Mark Turgeon can sort out roles for everyone, develop a rotation which maximizes this team’s strengths and keeps everybody reasonably happy, this team can be playing on the final weekend of the season. They’re also potentially good enough to overcome the scheduling negatives and win this conference…that shouldn’t shock anybody if it happens. However, when you try to pick these things in advance, you have to account for that stuff. I’m not saying Maryland *can’t* overcome a bad scheduling draw, I’m just saying that it’s a negative on the surface for them and is something they’ll have to overcome. This is a very good team and if they figure out how all the pieces fit together, maybe even a great one…but the questions are there for now.