Baltimore Sun reporters Jeff Barker and Don Markus and editor Matt Bracken weigh in on the three biggest topics of the past week in
Maryland's defense is ranked eighth in the nation, giving up 261.2 yards per game. Is the defense really that good?
Jeff Barker: Yes and no. There is no doubt that coordinator Brian Stewart's 3-4 defense is vastly superior to last year's unit before Stewart arrived.
The defense has been particularly strong up front, giving up an average of just 83.5 rushing yards.
If Maryland is to make something of this season, it seems clear the defense will be the anchor.
But there are some issues. Coaches say the defense, stingy as it has been, has not created enough takeaways -- just four fumbles and two interceptions through four games. Maryland's turnover margin is minus-7.
And then there are those big plays -- the ones that coaches call "chunk plays." Against West
"I still think we're a work in progress," Stewart said this week. "We're giving up way too many big plays, we've got to be better on third down, and we've got to tackle the catch."
But the defense has sure come a long way since 2011, when Maryland lost a 27-point, third quarter lead at
How big a blow to the Maryland basketball program is not getting the Harrison twins, and are there any positives to come from it?
Don Markus: It’s hard to say anything positive is derived from not getting a commitment from two of the best players in the country, players that could have had more of an impact in one season on the Maryland program than any since
That said, I wondered during this whole process whether the arrival of the Harrisons would have disrupted the chemistry that the Terps seem to be building with the kind of players
I also think that athletic director
Just by the fact that Maryland and Turgeon were mentioned so prominently in the stories about the recruiting of the Harrison twins gives the Terps some street cred when it comes to future recruiting. There aren’t that many schools that have been successful in beating out
About the only negative right now is the fact that Turgeon and assistant coach Bino Ranson put so much time and energy into recruiting the Harrisons – including making one last-ditch trip to Texas on Wednesday – and that other players currently being recruited by Maryland might feel neglected. Given the current makeup of the roster, the Terps will have two point guards next season, Pe’Shon Howard and Seth Allen, who are certainly capable of playing in the
I'm sure it's going to be a little while before Turgeon and his staff recover from this first significant recruiting defeat, but after what Turgeon did in terms of recruiting the likes of Shaquille Cleare (the former AAU teammate of the Harrisons who first wanted to come to Maryland because of Gary Williams) and Jake Layman (who made the U-19 national team that the Harrisons did not) and getting transfers such as Logan Aronhalt for this season, Dez Wells (possibly for this season depending on the outcome of an NCAA decision regarding his eligibility) and Evan Smotrycz (from Michigan) for next season, I think we are already seeing that Maryland recruiting is in a different place. Just going down to the wire with the Harrisons confirmed that.
Chemistry is a big deal for Turgeon. Just ask him about what he had to do last season trying to get other players to practice hard because Terrell Stoglin wasn't, or have them buy into what he was saying about playing defense, again because Stoglin, the team's star, didn't show much interest in that part of the game. Stoglin is gone from the team not just because he allegedly flunked some drug tests, but because he flunked the chemistry course Turgeon was teaching. The arrival of the Harrisons might have made that course tougher for the teacher next season than for the students.
Where will Maryland turn next after missing out on the Harrison twins?
Matt Bracken: The good news here is that Maryland doesn't have to scramble and build new relationships. The Terps offered Suitland point guard Roddy Peters and Philadelphia point guard Rysheed Jordan months ago. And even though Maryland's pursuit of the Harrisons was a national story that college hoops observers simply couldn't ignore, Mark Turgeon would have happily accepted a commitment from Peters or Jordan while continuing to go after the twins.
Whether or not Peters and Jordan see it that way, however, is a legitimate question. Jordan, with offers from
Peters, meanwhile, grew up rooting for Maryland in nearby Forestville. The Terps monitored him for months before pulling the trigger on an offer in July. Now Maryland is competing against Georgetown, Kansas,
The competition for Peters is certainly daunting, but Maryland's got more than a few things going in its favor -- namely location, available playing time at the 1 and comfort with the coaching staff and players. Terps assistant coach Dalonte Hill was essentially hired by Turgeon to win recruiting battles over D.C. Assault players like Peters. So Maryland absolutely has reasons for optimism.
If Maryland swings and misses on Peters and Jordan, keep these two off-the-radar 2013 guard names in mind: Jevon Thomas and Daxter Miles. According to a source with Team Melo, Thomas has received some recent interest from the Terps. A former St. John's and Dayton commitment, the well-traveled Thomas is a 5-foot-11 point guard from Queens who's currently doing a post-grad year at St. John's Northwestern Military Academy in Wisconsin -- the former home of one-time Terps forward commitment Martin Breunig. Miles is a Baltimore native who spent his junior season at IMG Academy in Florida, but is back for his senior year at Dunbar. The 6-foot-2 combo guard received some interest from Maryland last winter. The Nike Baltimore Elite player fared well in an exhibition game against the Harrison twins at BCCC over the summer, and he claims several mid- and high-major offers. Sources say Thomas and Miles are expected to wait until the spring to sign.
It's good to have contingency plans, and Thomas and Miles may or may not fit that bill. But the priority for Maryland remains landing Peters or Jordan this fall. I asked Turgeon in August how he was attempting to juggle one of the most high-profile recruitments in the country while still pursuing somewhat less-regarded prospects at the same positions. A day after the high-profile scenario didn't go the Terps' way, it's instructive to revisit Turgeon's comments, and keep those in mind as Maryland works to complete its 2013 class.
"We're working to paint a picture in recruiting of how they're going to fit in and how much work they have to do to get us there," Turgeon said. "They either buy in or they don't. You win some and you lose some. That's the way recruiting goes. You try not to get too high or too low. That's the key."