Posted: 1:43 a.m. Monday, Sept. 30, 2013
Jim Gober has a real passion for ACC basketball and has been doing his own e-mail analysis for years. He offered us a lot of his insights for publication, so we’re posting them periodically. Here’s his look at #8 Georgia Tech. There’s a bonus preview of Louisville coming which changes the numbering slightly.
2013-2014 Outlook:Maryland was inconsistent last season, beating Duke twice but winning against no other team that finished ranked among the top 25 teams in the nation. The Terps lost twice each to Virginia and FSU, the teams that finished just ahead of Maryland in the ACC standings last season, and also lost to several of the teams that finished with ACC records worse than Maryland’s mediocre 8-10 conference mark. Other than the victories over the Blue Devils at home in College Park and in the ACC Tournament, the Terps achieved only 1 win over an ACC team that had a winning conference record and that win came by just 1 point at home in College Park against State.
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In its last season in the ACC before moving to the Big Ten, Maryland hopes to avoid its 4th consecutive losing record in conference play. That accomplishment would have been a near certainty had Maryland’s best player, 7-1 So C Alex Len (11.9 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 2.1 bpg, 53.4 FG%), not elected to depart for the NBA after his second season of basketball in College Park. Len was taken by the Phoenix Suns as the #5 player in the 1st round of the NBA Draft. Without the threat of Len blocking shots (2.1 bpg) and dealing with penetration into the lane, Maryland’s interior defense becomes far less imposing. For the same reason, the absence of Len also impacts the Terps’ superior perimeter defense as well.
6-8 So PF Charles Mitchell (5.5 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 0.4 bpg, 51.1 FG%) and 6-9 So C Shaquille Cleare (3.7 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 0.3 bpg, 58.0 FG%) certainly provide rebounding, bulk and physical play, but they simply cannot provide a shot-blocking presence similar to Len’s. Though not nearly as significant as the departure of Len and its impact on the Terps’ defense especially, the transfer of 6-3 Jr PG Pe’Shon Howard (3.6 apg, 2.1 a/to) to USC at the end of the season leaves the Terps with questions at the critical point guard position that impact Maryland’s weak ball-handling. Though he was no offensive threat, Howard (2.1 a/to) was the best ball-handler by far on a Terps team that was plagued by turnovers last season (15.0 tpg).
6-4 Fr PG Roddy Peters, the RSCI consensus #46 recruit in the nation, is one prospect to fill the position vacated by Howard. If Peters is not ready to assume the point guard role, 6-1 So WG/PG Seth Allen (7.8 ppg, 1.2 a/to) and 6-6 Jr WG Nick Faust (9.4 ppg, 1.2 a/to) are other candidates to play point guard though neither is a natural at the position. Though there are questions about Maryland’s point guard, the rest of the perimeter is very well set. 6-5 Jr WG Dez Wells (13.1 ppg, 52.6 FG%), the best returning player for Maryland, should emerge as an All-ACC performer this season.
Wells will be supported in the backcourt by returning starter Faust (35.2 3s%, 1.2 3s/g), the best three-point shooter on the Terps’ weak long-distance shooting team (33.9 3s%, 5.8 3s/g). At wing forward, Maryland has 6-8 So WF/WG Jake Layman (5.5 ppg), the other returning starter. Though Layman did not shoot the ball well as a freshman, (39.6 FG%, 29.9 3s%, 0.9 3s/g), he showed promise to become a very solid contributor at his position.
Mitchell and Cleare will provide rebounding inside in a rotation with 6-9 Jr PF Evan Smotrycz (7.7 ppg, 43.5 3s%, 1.2 3s/g, 77.6 FT%), a transfer from Michigan who has the ability to provide accurate shooting outside the paint and stretch defenses. Mitchell, Cleare, and Smotrycz are not similar to Len in terms of what they can contribute, but each of them has qualities and strengths that give them the potential to be outstanding players for the Turtles.
As is true for Florida State, the experts disagree widely about the prospects for Maryland this season. At least one forecast has Maryland challenging for a place near the national top 25, while at least one other has the Terps plummeting into the bottom third of the expanded 15 team ACC. The loss of Len means a lot to the Terps’ prospects, since Maryland compensated for its weak outside shooting and poor ball-handling last season with superior defense. However, there are a number of quality returning players who could make Maryland better despite the loss of Len.
If Peters or Allen can solidify the point guard position, there is enough quality talent at Maryland for the Terps to finish near the top of the middle third of the ACC standings and perhaps return to the NCAA Tournament. The main reason that Maryland is not likely to achieve that goal and the challenge for every ACC team this season that is not new to the conference is the arrival of 3 top 25 caliber teams from the former Big East Conference in Syracuse, Notre Dame, and Pittsburgh. Without those opponents in their way, the Terps achieved mediocrity. With those added obstacles, Maryland will need to be much better than it was last season to have much success before it trades Duke and Virginia for Rutgers and Penn State as its designated conference rivals.
2012-2013 Starters Lost (2):
7-1 So C Alex Len (11.9 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 1.0 apg, 0.6 a/to, 2.1 bpg, 0.2 spg, 53.4 FG%, 12.5 3s%, 0.1 3s/g, 68.6 FT%, 2.8 ft/g, 26.4 mpg) (Honorable Mention All-ACC) (ACSMA All-ACC Defensive Team) (NBA Draft, 1st Round, #5 Pick, Phoenix Suns); 6-3 Jr PG Pe’Shon Howard (3.3 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 3.6 apg, 2.1 a/to, 0.0 bpg, 0.7 spg, 29.1 FG%, 24.1 3s%, 0.4 3s/g, 87.5 FT%, 1.2 ft/g, 22.8 mpg) (transfer at end of season to USC)
2013-2014 Returning Starters (3):
6-5 Jr WG Dez Wells (13.1 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 3.0 apg, 1.0 a/to, 0.5 bpg, 0.9 spg, 52.6 FG%, 33.3 3s%, 0.6 3s/g, 70.5 FT%, 2.4 ft/g, 28.6 mpg); 6-6 Jr WG Nick Faust (9.4 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 2.5 apg, 1.2 a/to, 0.1 bpg, 1.0 spg, 40.2 FG%, 35.2 3s%, 1.2 3s/g, 72.0 FT%, 1.9 ft/g, 25.8 mpg); 6-8 So WF/WG Jake Layman (5.5 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 0.9 apg, 0.9 a/to, 0.6 bpg, 0.6 spg, 39.6 FG%, 29.9 3s%, 0.9 3s/g, 69.4 FT%, 0.7 ft/g, 19.9 m
2013-2014 Other Key Players:
6-1 So WG/PG Seth Allen (7.8 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 2.3 apg, 1.2 a/to, 0.1 bpg, 1.0 spg, 38.9 FG%, 31.2 3s%, 1.1 3s/g, 73.9 FT%, 1.4 ft/g, 22.0 mpg); 6-9 Jr PF Evan Smotrycz (redshirt last season after transfer from Michigan) (2011-2012 Stats at Michigan: 7.7 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 0.9 apg, 0.7 a/to, 0.3 bpg, 0.8 spg, 48.1 FG%, 43.5 3s%, 1.2 3s/g, 77.6 FT%, 1.3 ft/g, 21.1 mpg); 6-8 PF Charles Mitchell (5.5 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 0.4 apg, 0.3 a/to, 0.4 bpg, 0.2 spg, 51.1 FG%, 54.0 FT%, 0.7 ft/g, 15.7 mpg); 6-9 So C Shaquille Cleare (3.7 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 0.1 apg, 0.1 a/to, 0.3 bpg, 0.1 spg, 58.0 FG%, 59.5 FT%, 0.6 ft/g, 12.0 mpg); 6-3 Fr PG Roddy Peters (RSCI Consensus #46 Recruit) (ESPN: #52 Recruit, 87 Rating, #12 Point Guard Prospect, 4 Star Recruit)
2012-2013 Season Team Stats: