"My rule was I wouldn't recruit a kid if he had grass in front of his house.
That's not my world. My world was a cracked sidewalk." —Al McGuire

Monday, September 16, 2019

Maryland & Temple Previews

Maryland Terrapins
December 1, HP Field House, Orlando FL
Coach: Mark Turgeon (180-92 at Maryland, 430-251 overall)
3-Year NCAA Rank Average: 45.0
3-Year kenpom Average: 36.3
2019-20 T-Rank Projection: 8

Projected Starters: PG Anthony Cowan (6'0" Sr), SG Darrell Morsell (6'5" Jr), SF Eric Ayala (6'5" So), PF Aaron Wiggins (6'6" So), C Jalen Smith (6'10" So)

Like Marquette, the Terps started last year on fire but faded down the stretch. Big man Bruno Fernando left for the NBA but everyone else of note returns. This is a talented team with potential star power in Cowan and Smith. The Terps could go bigger and put 4-star freshman Makhi Mitchell in the middle so Smith can remain at his natural PF position, but the roster above would give them a combination of on-ball defense and scorers.

The question this year will be the Terps' identity. Fernando dominated the offensive glass and was a potent rim protector, both of which were keys to their efficiency on both ends. They don't shoot particularly well and relied on put-backs. Expect a motion offense with a fairly deliberate pace. Everyone on the team can score, but I'm not sure they have that guy who can take control of a game. Defensively, they challenge shots and generally stick to man, though Turgeon is willing to go zone if necessary (see the LSU game last year). Maryland is getting top-10 respect and should be a Big 10 title contender. On paper, they are the best team Marquette could see in the non-conference, but pundits may be underestimating how important Fernando was on both ends of the floor. They will overwhelm some teams with sheer talent, but when it comes to other deep, high-major rosters, someone will have to emerge as a star.

Marquette Connection: If Maryland and Marquette meet in Orlando, it will mark the first time in their mutual history. Maryland is one of just three high-major programs (along with Oklahoma and California) that Marquette has never played. The closest they came was in the 2009 NCAA Tournament. The teams were set to meet in the Sweet 16, but each lost one game too early for the matchup to happen. Marquette lost to Missouri while Maryland fell to Memphis.


Temple Owls
December 1, HP Field House, Orlando FL
Coach: Aaron McKie (0-0)
3-Year NCAA Rank Average: 81.0
3-Year kenpom Average: 91.0
2019-20 T-Rank Projection: 86

Projected Starters: PG Alani Moore (5'10" Sr), SG Nate Pierre-Louis (6'4" Jr), SF Quinton Rose (6'8" Sr), PF J.P. Moorman (6'7" Jr), C Justyn Hamilton (6'10" Jr)

Temple won 7 of their last 9 conference games to grab one of the last 2019 at-large NCAA bids. That streak was largely carried by the departed Shizz Alston's 23.7 ppg down the stretch. Alani Moore will take the reins, but it'll be hard for a guy who has only hit double-digit scoring 4 times in the past 2 years to fill those shoes. Expect the offense to be dominated by Rose, who is a high-usage, low-efficiency wing. The Owls have depth and experience as the top-8 rotation players are juniors or seniors, but the ones that look most likely to dominate the ball (Rose, Pierre-Louis, Moore) are also the least efficient offensively.

I expect this team to try to run. Since McKie's second season, Temple's pace has increased every year while top assistant Monte Ross had his greatest success pushing the pace at Delaware. Defensively, Temple focuses on turning teams over. Rose, Pierre-Louis, and bench wing D'Vondre Perry all excel at forcing turnovers so I expect a high-pressure man-to-man that seeks to get easy baskets in transition. As far as expectations, without Alston this just doesn't look like a tourney team. They will likely play fast and make games fun to watch, but Temple looks like a middle-of-the-American team that will be fighting for a NIT berth rather than a NCAA one. If Marquette plays them, it likely means they lost to Davidson.

Marquette Connection: Before Aaron McKie became the heir apparent to Fran Dunphy, there was another rising assistant at Temple. Current Marquette assistant Dwayne Killings started his college coaching career as the Director of Basketball Operations at Temple from 2006-09. After a brief stint away,  he came back as an assistant from 2011-16. He arrived with the Owls three years before McKie was hired. While McKie, as a Temple alum and former NBA assistant was a natural fit to succeed Dunphy, it's possible Killings would've been just as viable a candidate had he stuck around. This will be their first on-court reunion since Killings left Connecticut and the AAC for Marquette.

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