Maryland Basketball: 7 Reasons Why the Terrapins Should Be Feared in 2012-13

Brian Jester@@FSG_BrianJContributor IIIJuly 19, 2012

Maryland Basketball: 7 Reasons Why the Terrapins Should Be Feared in 2012-13

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    It’s been a rough stretch for the Maryland Terrapins basketball team since their National Championship in 2002. In the 10 years since their national title, the Terrapins have only made the NCAA tournament five times and won the ACC regular season championship just once.

    After a transitional period with new head coach Mark Turgeon last season, Maryland is expected to rejoin the ranks of the ACC elite in 2012.

    It will be tough to make such a huge turnaround in such a short time, but there are reasons to fear the Turtle in the upcoming college basketball season.

7. The Transfer of Logan Aronhalt

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    Aronhalt, a three-year player at the University of Albany, is transferring to Maryland after finishing his degree a year early. He will be completing his graduate degree at Maryland and will not have to sit out a year, thanks to the “Russell Wilson” rule.

    With the transfer of Mychal Parker and Terrell Stoglin’s NBA draft declaration, the Terps were left thin in the backcourt heading into the 2012 season.

    While Aronhalt is not nearly the scorer that Stoglin is, he’s a great rebounder and will provide veteran leadership on a young Terrapins squad.

    His 0.52 assist-to-turnover ratio leaves much to be desired, but adding a smart, veteran guard is just what the Terps needed for 2012.

    Aronhalt’s 89 percent free-throw percentage will also be much welcomed to a team who shot only 66 percent from the charity stripe a season ago.

6. The 2012 Recruiting Class

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    When Mark Turgeon took over for Gary Williams last season, fans were promised a greater recruiting effort.

    It didn’t take long, as Maryland’s 2012 class is the best that the Terrapins have had in years. ranked Maryland as having the 16th best 2012 class in the nation.

    They landed big man Shaquille Cleare, who you’ll hear more about later in this slideshow.

    Swingman Jake Layman could step into an important role immediately. At 6’8”, Layman has great athleticism and the ability to stretch the floor with his perimeter shooting, something Maryland lacked so desperately last season.

    Seth Allen wasn’t as highly regarded, but he is a 6’2” guard from Virginia who can flat out shoot. Three-point shooting will go from a weakness to a strength with this year’s Terrapin roster.

    In addition to landing Cleare, the Terps landed big man Charles Mitchell. While Mitchell is undersized for his position at 6’7”, he is a banger, plays defense, works to score and will provide a much-needed toughness for the Maryland frontcourt.

    Last, but not least, the Terps will have Sam Cassell Jr., son of the former NBA guard. Cassell was only a three-star prospect coming out of high school, but he is a combo-guard who can score, play defense and has a great understanding of the game for someone his age.

5. A Healthy Pe'shon Howard (hopefully)

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    Howard was a very promising freshman point guard in 2010, but injuries derailed his sophomore season as he missed 18 games with a broken foot and a torn ACL.

    Unfortunately, the ACL tear occurred in February and it is uncertain if he’ll be ready for the season opener.

    Last season, the Terps struggled without Howard. Freshman Nick Faust and volume-shooter Terrell Stoglin were forced to play out of position, and the entire offense struggled as a result.

    During his time on the court, Howard has showed a great feel for the game, a command of the offense and those important intangibles.

    With Howard back, Faust can play his natural shooting guard position (more on him later). We will see an overall improved offensive efficiency in 2012 with Pe’shon Howard running the show in College Park.

4. Shaquille Cleare

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    Maryland will have a great frontcourt this season, and the recruiting of Shaquille Cleare will be the big reason for that.

    Calling Cleare a “big man” would be an understatement. At 6’9” and 270 lbs, Cleare has the size to play with anyone in the college game.

    In addition to his size, Cleare is an outstanding rebounder and has excellent hands for a man his size. His post moves will need some work, but he can still score down low. Just ask 2012 No. 1 recruit Nerlens Noel.

    Pairing Cleare with Alex Len will make for a giant frontcourt and likely one of the best young big man combos in the country.

3. Alex Len

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    It’s been a while since Maryland basketball has had a legitimate pro prospect, but scouts everywhere are projecting Alex Len to be a future NBA lottery pick.

    It’s easy to see why. Len is 7’1”, is a great shot blocker, has a great outside shooting touch and athleticism for a guy his size.

    Len flashed his potential last season as a freshman, but the competition of the ACC seemed to overwhelm him at times.

    Given his history and his situation, it was unreasonable to expect much more from Len last season. He spent five to six hours per day learning English, which undoubtedly had an effect with his communication on the court.

    Len didn’t play in a major high school program. While he did play in the U18 World Championships (and performed admirably), the level of competition was nothing that he would see in the ACC.

    With a full year under his belt, we should see Len elevate his game and become one of the premier big men in the country.

2. Nick Faust

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    With Terrell Stoglin gone, someone has to step up and take a scoring role. Enter Nick Faust.

    The sophomore from Baltimore got off to a slow start in his freshman campaign, scoring double-digit points in only five of the first 21 games and shooting an awful 27 percent from the three-point arc.

    Faust was recruited for his shooting and scoring abilities, so it was surprising to see him struggle so much in those areas of his game.

    However, as the season progressed, Faust became more comfortable in the collegiate game and finished the season strong. In the last 10 games, he scored in double-digits eight times, and shot 39 percent from behind the arc.

    Playing out of position likely didn’t help matters, as Faust appeared tentative early in the season. He showed his athleticism with a myriad of dunks, and this this one in particular versus Clemson seemed to spark his late-season run.

    Given his recruiting status and his improvement in his freshman season, it’s not a question if Faust will lead Maryland in scoring this season.

    He will be Maryland’s top scorer and a force to be reckoned with in the ACC.

1. A Second Season Under Mark Turgeon

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    Considering Maryland’s talent level, lack of inexperience and his first season as the Terrapins’ coach, Mark Turgeon would have to consider his inaugural ACC season a success.

    With a five man recruiting class, only two players remain from the Terps’ 2010 roster. Turgeon has his players in place and a full off-season to work in his system.

    It was a down year for the ACC, but a 19-15 overall record and 6-10 record in the ACC is more than most fans and experts expected from Maryland.

    As head coach of Texas A&M, Turgeon led the Aggies to four consecutive NCAA tournament berths.

    The pieces are in place, and we should see Maryland finish 2012 with a winning record in the ACC and playing in the NCAA tourney in March.