Despite losing three seniors, Maryland's chance of success next year looks bright
Most people know by now that the Maryland Terrapins men's basketball team won the NCAA National Championship earlier this month. But not many people know that Maryland, after losing three senior starters and likely one awesome sophomore, might be able to make another run at the championship next year.
With a strong core of freshmen joining the squad next season, including Travis Garrison from Dematha High School and point guard John Gilchrist, the Terps will be more than a formidable opponent.
The Terps will sorely miss their leaders for the past three seasons, senior guard Juan Dixon, the school's all-time leading scorer, and burly senior center Lonny Baxter. Maryland will have gaping holes in the lineup with junior Steve Blake as the only returning starter. Sophomore power forward Chris Wilcox, as of Monday, has cleaned out his dorm and is leaving for the NBA.
But as far as the lineup goes, the Terps will have veteran leadership similar to what they had this year. They will probably have seniors at all positions except small forward. Blake will handle the rock on most possessions, as he did this season with freshman Andre Collins and Gilchrist battling for playing time as his backup. Drew Nicholas will attempt to replace Juan Dixon at shooting guard. Small forward is still somewhat of a question mark. Either freshman Mike Grinnon could nab the spot by default or junior college transfer Jamar Smith from Allegany Junior College could take over the spot. Tahj Holden and Ryan Randle will start as power forward and center respectively.
Blake may be forced to shoot a bit more next season without Dixon in the backcourt with him. Over the summer, Blake should perfect his three-point shot and, more importantly, he needs to develop into a leader.
Holden is a versatile player who can play all three front-court positions. He will probably see most of his time at power forward getting dishes from his awesome backcourt.
Randle is another big man who saw lots of minutes this season. He doesn't quite have the versatility that Holden has, so he'll probably stick to center. He is a load inside and has pretty good hands. Randle has a lot to prove next year, and he'll have some big shoes to fill.
As far as the recruiting class goes, Garrison, the six-foot-ten power forward, has the chance to make an immediate impact. With Wilcox leaving, Garrison's playing time will increase. By his senior year, he could be carrying this Terp team.
Incoming frosh Nik Caner-Medley is another player competing for the small forward spot, and incoming frosh Chris McCray should also have an immediate impact at shooting guard backing up Nicholas.
Cal's Call: With a core group of juniors returning for their senior year, the Terps should be just as exciting as last season. This year's highly regarded recruiting class should give Maryland depth and youth. And even though Chris Wilcox is gone, Maryland's team will still do very well on the legs of Blake and Nicholas.
Calvin Anderson. Calvin Anderson was born in Washington D.C. on January 3rd 1986. He now lives with his mom in Takoma Park Maryland. Calvin is the man behind the infamous column Cal's Call. In addition to writing his column he enjoys playing sports including lacrosse and basketball … More »