- Dick Vitale, College Basketball analyst
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Down at Maryland, Mark Turgeon did not have an easy job, stepping in for potential Hall of Famer Gary Williams.
Over the years, Williams brought so much energy, excitement and enthusiasm to College Park. The former Terps player built up an impressive resume on the Maryland Terrapins sidelines, and won a national championship in 2002.
The bottom line is, the former Texas A&M coach took over for Williams and his kids scrapped and clawed, working hard on the court. They lost a lot of tough games, but they truly reflected his personality.
If you remember Turgeon's playing career, he got the most out of his talent as a member of the Kansas Jayhawks. He has done a superb job as a coach everywhere he has been. Turgeon eats, drinks and sleeps basketball.
This season, there should be improvement down at Maryland. Last year, the Terps finished 17-14, including 6-10 in the ACC. The team went 7-11 in its last 18 games.
6-3 guard Pe'Shon Howard and 6-8 forward James Padgett are back to provide a spark for the Terp attack. 7-1 center Alex Len missed a lot of time early due to eligibility issues, but showed potential in the post.
Recently word came that Dez Wells, who left Xavier, will attend Maryland. He passed on the likes of Memphis and Kentucky, and the Terps are looking for the NCAA to grant Wells a waiver which would provide instant eligibility. We will have to wait and see if that materializes.
Wells is the third transfer Turgeon has brought in this off-season. Forward Evan Smotrycz from Michigan must sit out this season. Guard Logan Aronhalt, who was the second-leading scorer at Albany of the America East Conference at 13.8 points per game, will be able to play immediately because he graduated and enrolled in a graduate program at College Park.
That shows how busy Turgeon has been, working on making this program a challenger in the ACC.
Maryland will have a test early on, facing John Calipari's Kentucky Wildcats at the new Barclays Center in Brooklyn in early-November. The 'Cats are the defending national champion, though this is a different team coming out of Lexington. No more Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist or Marquis Teague.
Kentucky has reloaded with Nerlens Noel, the diaper dandy big man, coming in.
The Terps will wait and see if Wells becomes eligible. Maryland, with or without Wells, will provide a formidable challenge to big blue nation. I am looking forward to that one.
How far up will Maryland climb this season? NC State should be the league favorite. Duke and North Carolina will be better than some expected. Then you have the likes of Florida State in the equation. My friends, the Terps will be heard from as well. This is a program that will get better and better.
Mark Turgeon's first season replacing Gary Williams in Maryland was a tough one, but the Terps should be much improved in 2011-12.