It’s the year of the turtle in the Chinese new year and this is the year the Terps win the big one!

Well, I’m no expert on Chinese culture, but I don’t think they even celebrate turtles. This though, is a highly transitional year for Terrapin men’s basketball team. Its senior year for Greivis and Hayes. How much will Padgett and Williams contribute. Will Landon be more consistent. Yes the Terps did go to the NCAA’s last year, but it was a questionable bid. Some think Gary doesn’t have the will to coach anymore and some think he has some gas left in the tank. All I know is that man still sweats and to think he sweats and doesn’t have any will is crazy. There is a “but,” and that is, with the amount of talent the Terps have gotten over the past four years, why hasn’t Gary been able to build this program into a solid contender in the acc. He did make the best out of what he had last year and so this year’s additions should only make it easier. I emphasize Should.

I really don’t believe in ghosts. But as we get further from the Terps championship in 2002, I’m beginning to feel like I’m watching ghosts out there – faces without a name. Take it as you will, the Terps have had some good talent come through the doors over the past five years, but none of them have been able to take Maryland to the next level. I’m not sure that is a player issue or a coaching issue, but that’s why I watch the games from my family room. As the year begins, there are four areas that will define the Terps .

Inside Presence. This year hasn’t started well so far for the Terps . The status of their three big men, Dupree, Burney and Goins are transfer, transfer and questionable. Dupree wasn’t the best option, but he was a big body Gary could throw in the mix to create some better matchups. All in all, no loss. Goins, he played a total of 12 minutes in his career for the Terps – enough said. That leaves Burney who struggled to come back from a foot fracture, but without him, Terps has no inside depth. I’m trying the make the best of this so in come freshmen Jordan Williams and James Padgett. Gary, for the first time will be forced to rotate two freshmen bodies at center if Burney isn’t able to play and you know how Gary feels about playing freshmen. They are freshmen, but I like the chances of these guys playing every day and having the chance to prove themselves. Both are big, can shoot and handle the ball and will hopefully mesh with Greivis’ style as the season plays out. Both players know how to finish around the basket, but don’t be surprised if they give up a lot of fouls while learning on the job.

Who’s at the helm. How far can Greivis and Hayes take this team and will Bowie step up? Both Vasquez and Hayes have contrasting styles of play and with both out on the floor at the same time, the Terps can become very dangerous. Will Gary let Hayes shoot the three more? He was after all, their most consistent three point threat. Greivis was good at the three, but his strong suit is driving the lane and drawing the defense to free others up. This should fit well with Williams and Padgett in the lane. Greivis needs to be the one controlling the ball and he shouldn’t be afraid to use the tools around him. Bowie was good last year at times, but too inconsistent. He drove the lane well, but sometimes held the ball too long and would get caught under the basket. He needs to work on his shot a bit although he did hit a good amount of threes last year.

Greivis is looking to have a big year

Role players. Will Mosley take the next step? Last year, he was probably the most underrated player in the ACC. His defense was resilient and his knack for stealing the ball was on point. If he didn’t go through the shooting struggles in the second half of the season, he would’ve gotten more attention from other teams. Don’t expect that this year, he’s stronger, had a year in the ACC and won’t get tired late in the year. Landon Milbourne. I like the name, after all, I was cursing his name so many times last year. He showed brilliance at times last season but then he would completely disappear from games. He may have been a victim of circumstance playing more inside game than he is used to. Landon is a step from the basket shooter, in that 10 – 12 foot range, and when you look at the games he played well in, those were the shots he was hitting. Either way, I’m anxious to see if he can step it up and be more consistent. Jin-Soo Kim, this guy needs to eat steak and potato’s every night this season. He reminds me of a skinny Danny Miller, but hopefully over the offseason he put on some weight and shot 1000 basketballs a day from anywhere around the floor.

Defend the perimeter. Last year, the Terps were burned by teams they couldn’t defend against the three ball. Carolina, Duke, and Memphis were just a few examples. Don’t think that a team of guards can defend the three without any issues because that’s what the Terps were last season. This team was small last year and they gave up the highest percentage of three point shooting in the ACC. They’ll need to step up their perimeter defense in order to keep the score close.

All in all, I’m excited to see the Terps play this year. They have a ton of potential but it doesn’t mean anything unless they come to play. We shall see in few weeks.