Baltimore Sun reporter Jeff Barker, intern and Diamondback co-sports editor Josh Vitale, and editor Matt Bracken weigh in on the three biggest topics of the past week in Maryland sports.
Were you surprised that junior point guard Pe’Shon Howard plans to transfer?
Jeff Barker: No. It’s too bad it didn’t work out better for him – he’s a smart, sensitive guy. But it wasn’t surprising. The marriage between Maryland and “Hollywood P” wasn’t working this season.
How do we know? How about coach Mark Turgeon’s comments before the N.C. State game in January?
Turgeon said Howard, who had been the regular point guard, had been "pouting" and needed to better handle adversity.
"My message since the last game is, 'Quit feeling sorry for yourself because no one else is,' " Turgeon said at the time. Ouch.
By then, Howard had lost all confidence in his shot. He entered the Jan. 16 N.C. State game 0-for-13 from the floor in the previous three games.
There can be vicious cycles in basketball. You lose confidence and you begin pressing. You begin to think – rather than merely react – and lose the innate feel for when to attack and when to allow the game to come to you.
Howard is a creative passer in the open court. He can be a rugged defender, as he showed when he helped force Wake Forest star C.J. Harris into missing 11 of 16 shots on March 2.
But – after multiple injuries and jolts to his ego – he didn’t seem quite himself. He said his transfer decision was also affected by the desire to be nearer his ailing grandmother in California.
If Howard had remained, he would have been relegated to playing behind Seth Allen and Roddy Peters. Better to move on.
There will be a couple things to watch for tonight when the Maryland football team takes the field for the annual Red-White spring game, but most of it won’t be on offense.
Josh Vitale: Sure, the Terps finally have an exciting group of playmakers to watch—running back Brandon Ross, and wide receivers Stefon Diggs and Deon Long, just to name a few—but anything the offense shows tonight will offer a mostly incomplete picture.
With expected starter C.J. Brown still not ready for full-contact drills as he rehabs a torn ACL suffered in August, and backup quarterbacks Perry Hills and Caleb Rowe even farther behind in their recovery from the same injury, the Terps’ only healthy signal callers are two guys who likely won’t play much next season.
New Mexico transfer Ricardo Young has taken most of the snaps during the spring, but he’s unproven, and coach Randy Edsall said he’s struggled with inconsistency. Dustin Dailey—who transferred from Division III Lewis and Clark College—is the backup, but he’ll likely begin next season buried deep on the depth chart.
So without a clear picture of how the offense might actually look next season, the most interesting battles to watch will come on the defensive side of the ball. The Terps graduated more than half of last year’s defensive starters—including defensive linemen Joe Vellano and A.J. Francis, linebackers Kenneth Tate, Demetrius Hartsfield and Darin Drakeford, and safety Eric Franklin—leaving them with plenty of holes to fill.
With that much turnover, there should be plenty of players to keep an eye on tonight.
Sophomore Quinton Jefferson has had a strong spring, and he’s one of the guys competing for a starting defensive end job. At linebacker, Yannick Cudjoe-Virgil has impressed enough to possibly get more snaps at outside linebacker, and linebacker-turned-quarterback-turned-linebacker Shawn Petty could work his way onto the field at inside linebacker.
The Terps’ starters at cornerback are already set with Dexter McDougle and Jeremiah Johnson returning, but there’s still room for movement at safety. Sophomores Anthony Nixon and Sean Davis are the favorites to start now that Matt Robinson is moving to linebacker (he’s still sidelined due to injury), but A.J. Hendy could have a shot to overtake one of them.
So while the quarterback-less offense won’t be an accurate reflection of things to come, tonight’s game could go a long way toward deciding some position battles on defense.
Could Sam Cassell Jr. still end up at Maryland after he finishes junior college?
Matt Bracken: In the months after Cassell felt the NCAA’s wrath and was forced to delay his Division I career for two years of junior college, Maryland signed Suitland point guard Roddy Peters and landed a commitment from Bishop O’Connell combo guard Melo Trimble. The Terps also continue to recruit several 2014 guards, including Potomac’s Dion Wiley and Mount St. Joseph’s Phil Booth. So where does that leave Cassell?