Friday, May 02, 2014

There is something happening here, what it is ain't exactly clear...

With the news breaking that junior-to-be guard Seth Allen has asked for, and been granted, his release it seemed appropriate to address the chaos and disarray that surrounds the Maryland program at the moment. After the mass exodus of a few weeks ago when Shaquille Clear, Roddy Peters and Nick Faust left the program Maryland fans may have hoped for a quiet offseason in preparation for their move the the Big Ten. Doesn't appear that was meant to be. There are rumors that Allen isn't the last player to leave this spring as sophomore Charles Mitchell has been mentioned to be considering a new home as well.

With the departure of assistant coach Scott Spinelli to Boston College there is without question a sense that something is not right in Comcast Center. A similar sense of turmoil hung over the football program after Randy Edsall's first season. Edsall survived, at least for now, and it would seem that Turgeon will get time to calm things down and get Maryland back to the NCAA tournament. Having a top 10 recruiting class coming in certainly helps. Players like Melo Trimble, Trayvon Reed, Dion Wiley and Michal Cekovsky will be counted on early to contribute and much of this coming season will depend on their ability to play well from the start.

With Allen's departure Trimble will be handed the starting PG position and will have to play his way out of getting close to 30 minutes a night. Let's hope he is focused on his conditioning. Once again a point guard will be leaving Maryland's program under Turgeon. He has about as good luck with PG's as Edsall has with quarterbacks. Stoglin, Howard, Peters and now Allen in three years.

The frustration inside and outside the program seems to be coming to a boil. Usually on teams that underachieve there is some element of a locker room problem. Discontent was obvious at points this season. Faust, Allen, Mitchell, Wells, and Cleare all either had behavioral problems or expressed public displeasure with their roles. The addition by subtraction theory rarely works in real life. Think back to the dysfunction with John Gilchrist. It took another full season for some of the problem children to be moved out and the team to find new leaders. Don't expect instant success with some of the malcontents moving on in this offseason.

Each player probably has their own individual reasons to transfer. Frustration with their roles, playing time, scoring, getting passed over by others could all be explanations. There is a broader concern about Turgeon's ability to manage his players and keep all the egos in check on his roster. So far he seems to be failing at that. Being the coach at a school that expects top 25 recruiting classes on a yearly basis and making sure that all of these heralded recruits fit well together is not as easy as it seems. It wasn't anything he really had to deal with at previous jobs. Still his time with Roy Williams and Larry Brown should have given him the basis to handle his own roster management. Williams may be a sub par tactician but he probably doesn't get the credit he deserves for managing a roster full of high school All-Americans and rarely having it blow up in his face.

Want some silver linings? We'll find out soon enough if Trimble is the real deal. I'm not convinced he is ready to handle being a starter in the B1G from the moment he steps on campus. The last player who played at that level as a frosh was Greivis Vasquez. Those are big shoes to fill. Others are confident he is that special kind of player. Seth Allen could put it in the basket and probably would have impressed fans with a few big scoring nights this season. He was more of a scorer than a facilitator and probably would have struggled to make the rest of this team better. What did this team need: a point guard who could be efficient and help players like Wells and Jake Layman shine or a 40% field goal volume shooter who only played on one side of the ball? It should be no surprise to those who follow me on Twitter that I'm not enamored with Allen's skill set. I didn't think he would be able to regularly score at the ACC level but he proved me wrong on that point. He clearly lacks the instincts to play point guard in an offense that relies on structure and good decision making ability. I think defense and half court efficiency were bigger weak spots on this team than scoring. I didn't see a full season with Allen really improving either catagory.

The team isn't better off without him and depth will certainly be another Achilles heal for Turgeon again. I certainly don't argue that his leaving is a good thing though I think it is a departure that isn't necessarily fatal.

A transfer who is eligible immediately will be vital at this point. Turgeon needs to have a viable plan B should Trimble get injured or struggle. Too much of Turgeon's tenure at Maryland has felt rushed and slipshod. Cobbled together rosters of transfers, holdovers and malcontents that rely on too many things going right and too little planning for if things go wrong. There isn't much more time for Mark Turgeon to get things right. If Charles Mitchell leaves the only player that Turgeon recruited out of high school remaining from a team that played Iowa in the NIT semi-final a year ago will be Jake Layman. You cannot save your job by recruiting well if you have a track record of running off all your players. Whatever the source of the rot in College Park Turgeon needs to demonstrate he can get Maryland basketball healthy and thriving again, and soon.