Terps Trio: Antonio Barton, Red-White game impressions, spring AAU circuit

April 19, 2013

 Baltimore Sun reporter Don Markus, 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.

Should Mark Turgeon go after Antonio Barton to play point guard next season for the Terps?

Don Markus: Having already written that Pe’Shon Howard might have been a suitable stop-gap before Roddy Peters is ready to take over at the point, I think it is fair to say that Barton would be a more than suitable replacement as Maryland’s transition point guard going into the 2013-14 season.

The 6-2, 178-pound Barton, who announced this week that he won’t return for his senior year at Memphis, is a lot quicker than Howard from what I’ve seen both on television and once in person when the Tigers played at Georgetown two years ago. He is also a capable – and willing – 3-point shooter.

It’s not a guarantee that Barton, who will be eligible to play next season as long as he finishes his undergraduate credits for a degree in leisure and sports management this summer, definitely wants to play for the Terps. It’s not a lock that Turgeon is certain.

But as Barton checks out the possibilities of where he might land, and Turgeon looks at game tape of Barton’s career at Memphis, here’s what I think: it’s a low risk, and possibly high reward, for all parties concerned.

For Barton, it’s a chance for his friends and family who haven’t seen him play much the past three years to drive down from Baltimore. It’s also a chance for Barton to see his young daughter, who lives with her mother in Baltimore, more frequently.

While Memphis has certainly had more talent the past few years – and will probably again next season – Barton will have players with NBA potential such as Dez Wells and other promising talents like Seth Allen, Jake Layman and transfer Evan Smotrycz to set up.

For the Terps, who haven’t been to the NCAA tournament in three years, it’s a chance to have a player aside from Wells and Smotrycz who has played on the biggest stage. When Memphis went down to the wire with Arizona in Barton’s freshman year, it was Antonio, not his more famous brother Will (now with the Portland Trail Blazers) who helped keep it close.

Turgeon has four scholarships available for next season with Howard’s recent departure, so you know there’s room in that Comcast Center locker room for Barton. Though Memphis coach Josh Pastner rarely has a bad word to say about anybody, he speaks glowingly about Barton and how hard he worked on and off the court during the past three years.

Much was written when Barton came out of Notre Dame Prep in Massachusetts after starting his career at Lake Clifton, that he was just a tag-along for the signing of his brother. But Antonio Barton averaged a more than respectable 8.2 points as a freshman. Pastner was reportedly under a lot of pressure to give Joe Jackson, a Memphis native, the majority of minutes at the point.

I’m not saying that Barton saw his minutes go down because his brother was no longer there. Jackson was clearly the better of the two. But given the issues Turgeon has had at point guard his first two years – the non-passing Terrell Stoglin his first season and then a revolving door with Howard, Seth Allen and Nick Faust last season – he needs some stability before Peters is ready to take over.

  Barton could be the perfect one-year fit.

What are the biggest takeaways from last week’s Red-White spring game?

 Josh Vitale: Performances in spring games have to be taken with a grain of salt. They’re nothing but more glorified scrimmages that fans are invited to watch, and the effort on the field does not always offer a complete picture of the team’s ability.

But in last week’s Red-White spring game, the Maryland football team showed some things on offense that offered hope for next season. It was only a scrimmage, but it was clear some strides had been made since the Terps last took the field in late November.

The most eye-popping performance on the stat sheet was the play of wide receiver Stefon Diggs. The rising sophomore exploded for 159 yards and a touchdown on eight receptions, and he did it playing with a quarterback who might not take a single snap next season.

Quarterback Ricardo Young was passable under center—he finished the game with 185 passing yards on 12 of 21 passing—but he’s expected to return to a backup role once starter C.J. Brown is fully recovered from a torn ACL.

But even without great play from its quarterbacks—Dustin Dailey completed 8 of 17 passes for just 81 yards on the other team—the Terps’ running game exploded. Running backs Brandon Ross combined for 257 rushing yards on 42 carries, and each averaged at least 5.9 yards per carry.

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