COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — Coming off a 27-win season and its first trip to the Sweet 16 since 2003, Maryland fields a team with one returning starter and six freshmen.
It’s been a different kind of October for coach Mark Turgeon, who last year fielded a veteran-laden team ranked No. 3 in the preseason Top 25 poll.
“Because it was the first time in a while we had been ranked so high, it was a lot on the guys,” Turgeon acknowledged Tuesday.
And this team?
“They’ve got a chip on their shoulder,” Turgeon said. “They’re hungry.”
Diamond Stone, Jake Layman, Robert Carter and Rasheed Sulaimon — four of the team’s top five scorers in 2015-16 — are gone.
Melo Trimble returns as a junior after opting to withdraw his name from the NBA draft. The 6-foot-3 guard hopes to improve on an inconsistent season in which he shot 41 percent and ended the season with a 5-for-16 dud against Kansas.
He rarely played fewer than 35 minutes a game, and his body wore down in late February and March.
“I learned last year you’ve got to take care of your body,” Trimble said. “That’s what I’m going to do this year.”
Trimble will be surrounded by a young cast. Center Damonte Dodd and forward L.C. Gill, a transfer from Duquesne, are the lone seniors on the roster.
“I have a lot of new players, a lot of good pieces,” Turgeon said. “Last year I had a veteran team. When you get into coaching, you like being around guys and teaching them and making them better.”
Some other things to know about Maryland’s upcoming men’s basketball season:
HIS TEAM: As a freshman, Trimble stood behind Dez Wells when it came to taking the final shot. Last season, Trimble was asked to blend into a talent-laden squad. Now, he stands alone as the Terps’ main man. “He knows it’s his team in a lot of ways,” Turgeon said. “He’s not worried about stepping on anybody’s toes, maybe like he has in the last couple years. So it should be a great year for Melo.”
WILEY RETURNS: After missing the entire 2015-16 season with a torn right meniscus, guard Dion Wiley is poised to make up for lost time in the backcourt. As a freshman, the 6-foot-4 guard played in all 35 games as a backup. It’s taken a year, but now he’s ready to build upon that season. “He’s one of our better passers and better players in ball screens,” Turgeon said. “That says a lot when you have Melo on your team.”
SOMETHING TO PROVE: Freshman guard Anthony Cowan is listed at 6 feet, which might be a stretch. What he lacks in height, he makes up for in desire. He’s quick to the rim, but is focused now on playing well on the other end of the court. “Coach Turgeon told me he wanted me to be a hound on defense, so that’s what I’m working on,” Cowan said.
LEAGUE OF ITS OWN: Turgeon started his tenure at Maryland when the Terrapins were part of the Atlantic Coast Conference. Now they’re in the Big Ten, but it’s all the same to him. “It was really about making Maryland basketball great, no matter what league you’re in, and getting players that fit your style of coaching,” Turgeon said. “I wasn’t so worried about the ACC or the Big Ten. I was just trying to make my team the best team I could possibly make it.”
CEK-MATE: Junior forward Michal Cekovsky is quickly getting used to college basketball and life in in the U.S. A native of Slovakia, the 7-1 Cekovsky (pronounced Check-ov-skee) got one start last season but should see more playing time in the middle. “Being with the guys every day and practicing with real good players has been good for my game,” he said. “Managers, coaches, teammates and friends have been helping me over the past three years.”
More AP College Basketball: http://collegebasketball.ap.org
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