Recent news about the Maryland basketball program hasn’t been too good.
Coach Mark Turgeon’s Terrapins endured a difficult, injury-plagued season that wound up with them missing the NCAA Tournament for the first time in four years.
Once the season ended, three of the team’s top players – Bruno Fernando, Kevin Huerter and Justin Jackson – declared themelves eligible for the June NBA Draft. Jackson plans to sign with an agent, and will not return. Fernando and Huerter could be back, depending on where they’re projected to be drafted.
On Friday night, though, Maryland recruit Andrew Wiggins, a 6-foot-6 swingman, offered offered some hope there may be better days ahead.
It’s rare that someone would prefer winter in Lincoln, Nebraska to winter in Miami.
But it worked out for James Palmer, Jr.
Palmer, an Upper Marlboro native and former standout at St. John’s and Henry A. Wise, started his college career at the University of Miami. The 6-foot-6 wing played sparingly there, averaging about 12 minutes and three points per game for the Hurricanes.
With prospects for playing time looking bleak, Palmer opted to transfer to Nebraska. There, coach Tim Miles has shown a knack for landing transfers from big-time schools like Terran Petteway (Texas Tech), Walter Pitchford (Florida) and Andrew White (Kansas). All flourished at Nebraska and later pursued professional basketball careers of one kind or another.
“Those guys left a trail for me to follow,” Palmer told the Lincoln (Neb.) Journal Star. “That shows a good example of Nebraska getting good transfer players and really developing them.”
Fifty years ago this week, Washington’s sports pages were full of stories on the Green Bay Packers’ recent Super Bowl II victory over the Oakland Raiders.
In sports news closer to home, local basketball fans were starting to notice a kid named Jim O’Brien, who kept showing up in the Stuart High School boxscores with 20 or 30 points to his credit. The rail-thin, 6-foot-7 redhead averaged 17.8 points per game as a sophomore on a team that finished just 11-10.
But by January of 1968, O’Brien had shifted his game into a different gear. He’d had a 42-point, 29-rebound game against rival Falls Church to open the 1967-68 season – a stunning statistical achievement in a 32-minute high school game.
Much of the talk after University of Maryland’s 80-65 victory Saturday over New Mexico centered on the Terrapins’ ability to bounce back from a tough loss.
“I’m really proud of how my team responded,” Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon said. “It was a short turn around but we came out with a lot of energy.”
The victory came less than 19 hours after the Terps walked off the court 63-61 losers to a short-handed Saint Bonaventure squad in the Emerald Coast Classic in Niceville, Fla. on Friday night. In that game, Maryland showed little energy, struggled on offense and got beat by a team that was missing its top returning scorer from last season, guard Jaylen Adams. Adams, a Baltimore native, is nursing a sprained ankle.
The Terps showed far more life against New Mexico the next day, roaring out to a 27-3 lead and never looking back as they improved to 5-1 this season with Syracuse up next on Monday night.
But there was one problem that lingered from the St. Bonaventure loss and it’s a problem that has plagued the Terrapins all season – turnovers.
Maryland turned it over 20 times against St. Bonaventure and 22 times against New Mexico. They also had 20 against Butler in a home game earlier this season. For the year, Maryland’s got 120 turnovers in seven games (17 per game).
That number might seem a little high to Terrapins fans – and they’d be right. Last year’s 24-9 team averaged just 12.9 per game.
Both were high school standouts, with Williams playing on Crossland HS team that reached the Class AA state basketball finals three years in a row (1986-88). Ferry, of course, played at storied DeMatha Catholic HS, where the team he played on in his junior year (1983-84) wound up 29-2 and ranked No. 1 nationally by USA Today.
For a long time, it seemed like local basketball fixture Kevin Broadus(Blair/Dunbar) might wind up working for every local college basketball program but Maryland.
Over the year, he embarked on a tour of the area’s colleges as an assistant coach, working at Bowie State, UDC, American University, George Washington and Georgetown (twice).
Broadus was finally able to complete the local circuit when Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon added him to the Terrapins’ coaching staff last week. There, Broadus’ numerous local connections are expected to come in handy on the recruiting trail.
“We are thrilled to welcome Kevin to the Maryland basketball family,” Turgeon said in a statement released by the athletic department. “Kevin has a strong reputation as a tireless recruiter and is passionate about developing players on and off the court. He has extensive knowledge and experience as a coach and I am confident his ties to this region will be extremely valuable to our program.”
“It is an honor and a privilege to work with coach Turgeon,” Broadus said in the same news release. “I have watched him from afar and really admire him. He has been very successful everywhere he has been. I am excited to be a part of this program and continue to build on the success they have had.”
Broadus will replace Cliff Warren on the coaching staff. Warren, a star player at Paint Branch High School in nearby Burtonsville, had expressed a desire to come off the road and spend more time with his family. He assumes a new role as the Maryland basketball program’s director of player development.
“Cliff shared his desire of tending to family matters and this new position will allow him to do so,” Turgeon said. “He has been an outstanding mentor and role model to our team. Cliff will continue to play an integral role in supporting and guiding our student-athletes academically as well as helping them achieve success on and off the court.”
Broadus, 53, is probably most known for his work as an assistant at Georgetown. There, he coached and helped recruit future NBA players like Jeff Green, Roy Hibbert and Otto Porter.
Broadus sandwiched two different stints at Georgetown totaling nine years around a successful but controversial two-year stint as the head coach at Binghamton. There, he led the team to the NCAA tournament in his second year. He was later forced to step down after admitting to improper contact with a recruit during a so-called “dead period.” Broadus later sued the university and the state higher education system in New York for discrimination, but agreed to resign after getting a $1.2 million settlement. An NCAA investigation cleared him of any wrongdoing.
TRIMBLE’S NUMBERS: Most every story about Melo Trimble’s decision to leave the University of Maryland for the NAB after three years mentioned that he was part of 79 Maryland victories.
That got me to thinking: Where does that total of 79 victories rank among other great players who have worn the Maryland red and white?
The answer is: pretty high.
In some sense, measuring the O’Connell grad against Maryland stars of the past is comparing apples and oranges because prior to the 1972-73 season, players had to sit out their freshman seasons. Then, too, college basketball teams typically play more games now than they did 45 years ago – back when Maryland’s basketball first gained national prominence.
In 1972-73 and 1974-75, for example, Maryland reached the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament and still played just 30 and 29 games, respectively. This past season – Trimble’s last, as it turns out – Maryland played 33 games even with its disappointing first-round NCAA Tournament exit.
That said, Trimble’s number are impressive my almost any measure. He is one of just two players in school history (Terrence Morris is the other) to play for three consecutive teams that won at least 25 games. Even if great postseason success eluded Trimble and the Terps, that run of excellence has to count for something.
Trimble’s three-season victory total doesn’t quite match that of Lonny Baxter (Springbrook/Anacostia) and Juan Dixon, who accumulated 82 victories – including the national championship – in three varsity seasons from 2000-2002.
The pair of Steve Blake and Drew Nicholas played on teams that won 78 games in their last three varsity seasons (2001-2003). Morris’ last three Maryland teams managed 73 victories, as did the 1972-74 teams spearheaded by Tom McMillen and Len Elmore. The John Lucas-Maurice Howard Terrapin squads of 1973 to 1975 accumulated 70 victories. Adrian Branch (DeMatha) helped win 69 games for the Terps from 1983 to 1985. Local legend Len Bias (Northwestern), meanwhile, won 68 games in his last three seasons in a Maryland uniform.
It’s hard to remember now, but the perception of the Maryland basketball program was very different 16 months ago.
As Coach Mark Turgeon began practice for the 2014-15 season, he’d lost a half-dozen players during the offseason – players who were expected to play significant roles for the Terrapins. Headlines and tweets wondered if Turgeon’s job might be in jeopardy. After all, his first three seasons in College Park hadn’t produced a single NCAA Tournament berth. With all the defections, it didn’t look like it would happen in 2014-15, either.
Except, of course, that it did. Freshman guard Melo Trimble was even better than advertised and became one of the most transformative players in Maryland basketball history. Largely because of his efforts, Maryland finished 28-7 and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament that season.
As a sophomore, Trimble has been no less brilliant. He’s the leader of a Terrapins team that has won 13 of its first 14 games and sits at No. 4 in the latest Associated Press college basketball poll. Since Trimble’s arrival and Turgeon’s supposed career crossroads, Maryland is 41-8.
The Internet is now Tweeting a different tune about the Coach; but what about those players who left the program that summer and opted for the court not taken? Unable to find anything on-line or anywhere else on this, this is for Maryland fans who are interested to know whatever became of Charles Mitchell, Seth Allen, Nick Faust, Rody Peters, Shaquille Cleare and Trayvon Reed.