Top 68 Team Previews: #40 Arkansas Razorbacks
Mike Anderson is the new head coach at Arkansas. (Icon SMI)
By Keith Levinsky
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Last Season: 19-14 (7-9)
Key Losses: Jordan Williams, Adrian Bowie, Cliff Tucker, Dino Gregory
Head Coach: Mark Turgeon
Projected Starting Lineup
PG: Terrell Stoglin 6-1 So.
SG: Pe'Shon Howard 6-3 So.
SF: Sean Mosley 6-4 Sr.
PF: James Padgett 6-8 Jr.
C: Haukur Palsson 6-6 So.
Key Reserves: Mychal Parker 6-5 Fr. SF, Ashton Pankey 6-9 So. PF, Berend Weijs 6-10 Sr. C, Nick Faust 6-6 Fr. SG
Last season was quite a disappointment for the Maryland basketball program. For the first time since 1992, the team failed to make either the NCAA tournament or the NIT. A 19-win season with few quality wins was not the type of season that Maryland fans are accustomed to. The Terrapins struggled to find consistency all year and were never able to build a winning streak longer than three games. A second round loss to Duke in the ACC tournament back in mid-March not only ended the season for the Terrapins, but an era of rich basketball tradition also came to a close.
When the 2011-12 season begins, it will be the first time since 1988 that the Terrapins will have a coach other than Gary Williams patrolling the sidelines. During his 22-year tenure at Maryland, Williams led his team to the NCAA tournament 14 times, won or shared three ACC titles, and won a national championship in 2002. New head coach Mark Turgeon will take over the program and do his best to resurrect it to its former level of prosperity.
Turgeon is coming off a successful stint as the head coach of the Texas A&M Aggies in which he compiled a 97-40 record in four seasons. He was the Big 12 Coach of the Year in both 2010 and 2011 and is the only coach in Big 12 history with at least 24 victories in each of his four seasons. It remains to be seen how Turgeon will adjust to the new environment of College Park and just how effective he can be on the recruiting front in a region he isn't familiar with.
If the Terps are going to bounce back and have a successful season, the team is going to need sophomore guard Terrell Stoglin to step up and lead the way. Stoglin averaged 11.4 points per game and shot over 82 percent from the line on his way to earning the honor of being selected to the ACC All-Freshman Team. Stoglin is certainly going to be the go-to-guy this year and it will be interesting to see if he is ready to take on that role in just his second season. He is the best player on the team and will be relied on heavily by Turgeon at all times.
Stoglin's backcourt mate Pe'Shon Howard will also need to have a stellar season for the Terps to advance to the postseason. As a freshman last year, Howard averaged just over five points per game while logging 18 minutes of action per contest. Expect him to see at least 25+ minutes of playing time per night this season.
Senior Sean Mosley will be the most experienced Terp to see big minutes this year. As the team's top defender, he was often assigned to guard the opposing team's best player. This is not an easy challenge for any college basketball player, especially when you consider that Mosley plays in the competitive ACC. While Mosley is invaluable to the team defensively, his skill set offensively is still limited. Last year, Mosley averaged just over eight points a game and shot just 41 percent from the floor. This season, with the departure of four of the team's top five scorers, Mosley should get plenty of opportunities to contribute offensively. Look for him to increase his scoring average by at least few buckets each game to average somewhere around 13 points per contest.
Junior James Padgett and sophomore Haukur Palsson will likely be starting in the frontcourt for the Terrapins this season. Both players averaged around 10 minutes per game last year and have yet to show their full potential. Both of them are regarded as high energy, high intensity guys but that only goes so far when you find yourself playing in a talented conference like the ACC. The unproven frontcourt could be a huge Achilles heel for the Terps this season if either Padgett or Palsson don't make great strides in improving their game.
The only freshman on the team this season will be four-star recruit Nick Faust from Baltimore. The 6-foot-6 shooting guard was ranked in the Top 50 in the class of 2011 by both Rivals and ESPN. Scouts love his size at his position and his ability to score from anywhere on the floor. He is also noted as an above average defender who rebounds well for his position. He should get 15-20 minutes per game this season and may even get some minutes at the small forward position. It is really up to Turgeon to how best to use Faust. Maryland fans should definitely have reason to get excited about watching him play.
For Turgeon to have a successful season with the Terps, it will largely depend on how he manages to piece together a rotation of players that is inexperienced, unproven, and adjusting to a new coaching style. Turgeon understands the prestige that comes with being a part of the Maryland basketball tradition so it would be foolish to count this team out of postseason contention before the season even begins. With the talent on this roster, it's certainly possible for this team to get hot at the end of the season, get a few quality wins against top opponents in the conference, and squeak into the NCAA tournament as an 11 or 12 seed.