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The official student newspaper of Walter Johnson High School

The Pitch

The official student newspaper of Walter Johnson High School

The Pitch

Maryland Basketball travels into a disappointing season

Patrick Rouin/All-Pro Reels
Donta Scott jumps for the opening tip-off from Maryland vs. Minnesota in College Park, Maryland. Scott averaged 11 points for the Terps this year but that wasn’t enough as the Terps fell to a 16-17 record. (Courtesy Patrick Rouin via Wikimedia Commons)

In 2020, Maryland defeated 25th-ranked Michigan to be crowned Big Ten regular season champs. Led by center Jalen Smith, the Terrapins were ranked number 12 and looking to make a deep run in March. However, the tournament was canceled and the Terp’s season ended. Flash forward to the present day and the “mighty” Maryland Men’s Basketball team just lost in the second round of the Big Ten Tournament. The Terps were one of the worst three-point shooting teams in the country, draining an abysmal 28.5% of shots behind the arc. The team was hard to watch, a disappointment to their fans and a waste of star talent.

Expectations before season
Head Coach Kevin Willard came off a good season from last year, with the Terps making it to the round of 32 in March Madness. Over the offseason, three major commits signed off to play in College Park including Deshawn Harris-Smith, Jamie Kaiser and Jahnathan Lamothe. Smith was nationally ranked as a top 50 player in the country and was looking to make an immediate impact along with Kaiser, who was a top 100 player in the country. With these new signees, Maryland fans were filled with high hopes for the upcoming season.

Along with Jahmir Young, who was awarded Big Ten honors the year prior, the Terrapins had their eyes set on making a statement in March. Young, one of the best scorers in the country, was back for one last dance along with NCAAW star Angel Reese’s brother, Juju Reese. The fans were ready as basketball is one of Maryland’s best sports. Only behind lacrosse, it’s one of the most decorated programs in school history, with a national championship in 2002 and a top 5 pick in Len Bias in 1986. Even with these high standards, this year’s team was expected to live up to them.

However, it did not go that way. The disappointment started early in the season, with back-to-back losses to Davidson and University of Alabama Birmingham. Although neither were blow-outs and they were both close games, any team who was looking for a deep run in March would have steamrolled through those two teams. Instead, Maryland sat 1-2 with conference play in one of the harder conferences in the country, the Big Ten coming up in a few weeks.

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The Big Ten is composed of some of the nation’s top stars including Zach Edey, Terrence Shannon Jr and Kel’el Ware. Some of the top teams can also be found in this conference, including third-ranked Purdue and 12th-ranked Illinois, but Maryland historically fits in right with them. Only last year, Maryland defeated third-ranked Purdue in the Xfinity Center with a score of 54-68.

Home court advantage
One of the reasons Maryland is able to compete with these teams is the home-court advantage Xfinity Center brings. Maryland has a strong, loyal fanbase who routinely show up and cheer on their team. So, when the 3rd-ranked Purdue came over this year in early January, an upset was prime to happen. The fans packed Xfinity Center on a brisk January night in College Park as Zach Edey and the Boilermakers rolled into town.

What happened was a 12-point blowout where the Terrapins never stood a chance and thousands of Maryland faithful left disappointed. However, this wasn’t an uncommon sight. They lost to Michigan State at home a few weeks later and then to Northwestern in late February. Just more and more fans left disappointed time and time again. If Maryland couldn’t win at home with the crowd Xfinity Center brings, how were they supposed to win on the road?

Well, they couldn’t. Maryland had an upsetting 4-7 record on the road with a few small highlights here and there. These highlights include defeating 12th-ranked Illinois on the road and beating Iowa. Nevertheless, only winning a few select road games is not going to get you anywhere in college basketball.

The Terps wasted Jahmir Young’s senior season. Young is one of the top scorers in the country and is by far the Terp’s best player. He seems to get the team out of the hole they dig time after time again. Young alone dropped 40 points in a blowout win against UCLA. Yet, Jahmir didn’t even get a chance to play in late March in his last-ever season in collegiate basketball.

Shooting the ball
Then there’s the shooting. It was hard to watch miss after miss after miss but that is all you’ll find when you watch a Maryland basketball game. As I mentioned before, the Terrapins had one of the worst three-point shooting percentages in the country, being the 348th worst shooting team in the country. In the new age of basketball, layups and jump shots don’t cut it and a team must shoot threes to win. Yet, in these close games, Maryland couldn’t rely on three-point shooting and they tried to drive and make a quick layup but then the opposing team’s lead was only cut down by two. The teams that blow out Maryland just shoot threes all over Maryland and the Terrapins couldn’t respond.

Kevin Willard’s philosophy behind this was that defense was going to win the games and yes, Maryland did have a good defense but not good enough to make up for the bad offense. For example, Deshawn Harris-Smith has proven to be a good defense option but neither can he routinely score the ball.

Improvements that needed to be made
The Terps ended just under 500, which is a lot better than some other teams. However, what went wrong? The first and most obvious is shooting the basketball. Yet Maryland still tried to shoot as the Terps are 197th in the country for three-point attempts. What does this mean? That the Terrapins wasted meaningful possessions time after time.

The Terps needed to stop making Jahmir Young do all the work. It felt like every time they had the ball, it was just Jahmir Young trying to drive to the basket while the defense crowded around him. The rest of the offense really couldn’t make their own shot and relied on Young to score the basket. Other players needed to step up if any Cinderella run was going to happen.

Even with this disappointment, Maryland signed the tenth-best player in the class of 2024 in Deirk Queen. Queen is one of the best commits in Maryland history and with players like Deshawn Harris-Smith and Jamie Kaiser maturing into sophomores, the Maryland Men’s basketball team might be able to fill in the gap that the departure of Jahmir Young leaves and more.

All there is to do now is to hope for next year, March Madness is now in swing and Maryland got blown out by Wisconsin on Mar. 14. It was a pitiful game, just like the whole season. Maryland fans deserve more but the Terps season has officially been put under wraps.

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William Murphy
William Murphy, Photography Editor
Sophmore William Murphy is thrilled to be a part of the Pitch for his first year as a Photo Editor. William likes to play baseball and watch movies in his freetime.
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  • AnonymousApr 10, 2024 at 6:57 pm

    Well Kaiser has left along with Lamothe and Batchelor. Hopefully Chance can come back but Willard is behind. Young, Scott, Kaiser and others gone. Queen needs someone to get him the ball and as Purdue saw, even a great Big needs others to score from the 3. Looks sort of grim.