Testudo Times: my favorite SB Nation blog title that also sounds vaguely inappropriate.
I think Maryland fans had high expectations for last year's team and thought they could possibly get back into the NCAA Tournament. They started off the season by almost upsetting Kentucky and then winning their next 13 games in a row, before faltering some in ACC play. Maryland basketball fans will almost never be happy about not making the NCAA, but I think they understand the rebuilding and restocking of talent that Mark Turgeon had to undertake.
What's the biggest piece you've lost since last season?
Definitely center Alex Len, but more so for his defense than his offense. Don't get me wrong, he was a great offensive option and Maryland will most definitely miss that, but they're going to have a much harder time trying to make up for his lost defensive presence and production in the paint. We also found out today that sophomore Seth Allen, who was going to be the starting point guard to start the season, fractured a bone in his foot and will miss 8-10 weeks, so that's another huge loss for the Terps as he'll miss all of their non-conference games, including against UConn and Ohio State.
Who is the player who needs to step up the most this year?
Well, my answer here before 1:30 today was Seth Allen [ed. note: Yup, actually was Seth Allen before], but now that he's out until early January, Roddy Peters is now my answer. With Allen out, Dez Wells is going to start the season running the point, but Peter should eventually take over and allow Wells to switch back to the two guard. Maryland's biggest downfall last season was their point guard play, especially when it came to turnovers. Peters is really going to have to step up now with Allen out.
Who is the player UVa fans ought to look out for the most?
Probably Jake Layman. Last season, Alex Len burst onto the scene in his sophomore year to gain a lot of national attention and this season many are predicting that Layman could do the same in during his second season in College Park. He's improved so much over the summer, has a killer perimeter shot, and is a great slasher to the basket. He's been Maryland's leading scorer in many of the exhibition games and scrimmages they've played so far and I expect him and Dez Wells to be Maryland's leading scorers this season.
What's your outlook for the season? What's a success, what's a failure, and what's something you can live with?
Prior to Allen's injury, this season was pretty much NCAA tourney or bust. Anything short of getting back to the big dance will be a disappointment in College Park and will have a lot of Maryland fans unhappy. Will Allen's injury impact that? It really depends on how Maryland plays in the non-conference portion of their schedule. If they can do okay and finish about 6th or 7th in conference play, they should be okay. If missing Allen result in them struggling in non-conference play, they're going to have to make up for that in ACC play. I think getting back to the tournament is still going to be their goal and they should be able to achieve it, but it just got a bit harder with today's news.