As thrilling as the 2009-“10 basketball season was for the University of Maryland, Terps fans cannot help but look forward to next season with a great sense of uncertainty.  The Terps lose 3 seniors in Greivis Vasquez, Eric Hayes and Landon Milbourne who have not only performed to the best of their ability on the court, but also provided great leadership and effort.  And when you consider that Vasquez was both and all league performer and the heart and soul of the squad, you realize the losses will be great and the outlook is not very rosy.  So what is next for the Terps?  Can the returning players step into the void created by the departing ones?  Will all five members of the incoming recruiting class be ready to contribute as freshman?  Does Gary Williams have it in him to undertake another rebuild at Maryland?  Are the ’09-’10 Terps any better than a bubble team?

The clearest path for success int he ’09-’10 season is for the returning Terps to step their games up and make up for the losses of Vasquez, Hayes and Milbourne.  It is unlikely that Maryland’s five newcomers will all be ready to contribute and maybe only a couple of them will be ready to play at a high level.  The Terps have a lot of returning experience in seniors Cliff Tucker, Adrian Bowie and Dino Gregory.  None have been starters for an entire season, but they have been through it all in 3 seasons.  Bowie will see a lot of time at the point and will need to improve his ability to distribute and run the offense.  A lot of pressure falls on him and his ability to get open looks for his teammates, especially the bigs.  Tucker needs to continue to improve his jumper and his ability to finish on the break.  Tucker’s scoring could see the biggest jump of the returning players.  Gregory needs to be more consistent on the boards and continue to hit open looks.  Dino does a lot of little things and knows the offense well, but can he put it together and be productive with starters minutes?

Should the Terrapins see only moderate improvement from the three seniors, the job of carrying the Terps will fall even more squarely on the shoulders of Sean Mosley and Jordan Williams.  Mosley and Williams will be called on to carry a heavy load.  If they can ascend to all-conference status the Terps will find themselves on the right side of the bubble and perhaps back in the thick of things in the ACC.  Mosley is going to have to transform his game some.  The Terps will continue to feed on his toughness and all around, but he needs to hunt for his shot more and be a 15-17 ppg scorer.  Williams will also be more of an offensive focal point, but next year his looks may come more on his post moves as opposed to looks set up by his teammates.

Along with James Padgett Maryland’s bench will be made up of almost entirely first year players.  The Terps welcome G/F Mychal Parker, G Terrell Stoglin, G Pe’Shon Howard, F/C Ashton Pankey and F Haukur Palsson.  Padgett did not see many minutes this passed season, but it will benefit the Terps that he was in the system for a year.  Unless Padgett really steps his game, he will be the main back-up to Gregory and Williams at the 4 and 5.   Pankey is billed as a strong rebounder and good shot blocker who will provide extra fouls on the inside.  Parker and Stoglin appear to be most ready to make an impact.  In fact they could see significant minutes if Bowie and Tucker struggle.  Parker is an athletic wing and the most highly rated on the incoming class.  Stoglin and lefty scoring point int he mold of former BC guard Tyrese Rice.  Howard also provides depth at both guard spots and is a tough defender.  Palsson is regarded as a shooter, but got limited minutes on a stacked Montverde Academy team.

Coming of a year that saw a consistent level of performance led by senior guard play, Terps fans are going to be in for more ups and downs next season.  The ’09-’10 squad should be a quicker team defensively and able to do more off the dribble, but I think they will have struggles running the flex offense and knocking down perimeter jumpers.  While the offense will not be as high scoring the Terps can be a stronger defensive and rebounding team.  Will next year’s Terps be as resourceful at finding ways to win games as their predecessors?  Who will step up the most and lead the Terps in ’09-’10?