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.
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.