By Steven Dilsizian
So far this season, the Terps have mostly looked the part of a top team in the country and currently stand at a 15-2 record with Big Ten play just recently getting under way. What has changed in this Maryland team who was just scaring everyone with last minute wins against a team like Rider? A lot has improved since then to say the least.
Scoring comes from anyone, anytime, and anywhere:
Since the first day of the season, Maryland’s depth has been a focal point and a large reason why they were slated to be a top team this season. The Terps have scorers, and the days of an isolation offense with Dez Wells or Melo Trimble at the top of the key are over. The Terps have 5 different players averaging over double-figures in PPG and are arguably the most well rounded team in the nation.
Melo Trimble: 14.1 PPG
Diamond Stone: 13.6 PPG
Robert Carter: 12.7 PPG
Jake Layman: 11.1 PPG
Rasheed Sulaimon: 10.2 PPG
In a couple of interviews this season, Jake Layman has even touched on the importance of this balanced offense, mentioning that if someone isn’t shooting the ball well that day, someone else definitely is. Mark Turgeon has a versatile team this season and can beat opponents with speed and guard play or with the physical big men down in the post. On the season so far, Maryland has shot just above .500, demonstrating that all of these shooters are not just taking good shots, but they are consistently going in. If Maryland can stay balanced with scoring coming from just about anyone, it will be hard for teams to shut down this offense.
Anything but a Diamond in the rough:
The emergence of Diamond Stone comes as no surprise to most of us. We all expected the highly praised freshman to eventually get a feel for the college game and become an important contributor to this team. However, I think it is fair to say that we did not expect him to transition and start to dominate in Big Ten play as quickly as he has. Many college basketball followers have heard about Stone and his potential, but against Penn State, Diamond Stone made his presence known to the country where he totaled 39 points and 12 rebounds. Stone currently averages 13 PPG along with 5 rebounds with an impressive 78% at the free throw line. The freshman has developed into the best Center on a Maryland team that consistently rotates with Michal Cekovsky and Damonte Dodd. Look for Stone to continue to only improve as the season continues.
A man amongst boys:
Everything Robert Carter Jr. does seems to always be hidden in the shadows. The guy is the best interior threat the Terps have and he can even shoot from behind the arc at times. Carter is more than the Terps could have ever imagined. He bullies opposing defenders by backing them down with his size and strength and has top tier post moves. In my opinion, Carter has looked phenomenal and looks like a real NBA prospect, but he gets no love. It’s time we pay him some respect. Carter leads the Terps with 6.7 rebounds per game and shoots above 50% from the floor. He is unselfish and can make the quick pass to a guard for a three-point attempt or after drawing a double team, find the open man. Carter needs some more work on his free throw shooting, but the guy looks like a real pro out there more times than not.
Arguably the best backcourt duo in the country:
Melo Trimble and Rasheed Sulaimon give Maryland possibly the best backcourt in the entire league. Trimble has established himself as a top point guard with ice in his veins and the ability to take over any game during crunch time. However, the development of Rasheed Sulaimon is what gives the Terps something special. Sulaimon complements Trimble perfectly, and can provide him a break at times instead of having Trimble on the floor all game long. Many critics were skeptical about how Sulaimon would mesh with the team, but I think it is safe to say he has become something special. He has been on a mission all season long, trying to prove himself to everyone who counted him out after the Duke incident. Sulaimon can distribute the ball very well but can be a knock down shooter when needed as he currently has the best three-point percentage on the team (.477). This is how him and Trimble can be so deadly, as both of them are very balanced players and can either drive to the rim or shoot from long range at an efficient rate.