By Jack Rothenberg
After an unorthodox yet successful season a year ago, the Maryland Terrapins have re-armed themselves with high level transfers, top rated recruits and in-house names that have come back for another season. The Terps have been slated at No. 21 in the country entering the 2021-2022 campaign, and with their first contest on Friday the excitement and expectations are through the roof.
Leading this year’s team, senior guard Eric Ayala and junior forward Donta Scott will look to duplicate the stellar performances they put together last season. Ayala, who averaged 15 points and four rebounds a year ago, was named to the preseason All-Big Ten team at the end of October. Another key piece returning for the Terps is junior guard Hakim Hart.
Head coach Mark Turgeon made a big splash in the transfer portal this offseason, getting three acquisitions that will play a pivotal role for Maryland this season. Senior guard Fatts Russell, formerly with the Rhode Island Rams, is a true point guard – a position Maryland lacked last season. He will assume that role for the Terps. Scott helped bring the fifth year senior to College Park due to their Philadelphia roots. Scott and Russell played two high school seasons together and were in communication throughout his decision making process.
Russell has averaged at least 14 points in all three seasons he’s played in college. He had his best season back in 2019-2020 when he shot 35 percent from three and averaged 18.8 points on the year. Russell will hope to recapture similar statistics in his final year of eligibility.
Junior center Qudus Wahab is another transfer that Turgeon and his staff were able to snag this past spring. Wahab spent last year with Georgetown and is filling a big hole that Maryland was missing last season down low. The junior center dominated the paint in the nation’s capital, averaging almost 13 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.6 blocks on the year. With Turgeon’s NBA resume of centers, Wahab is banking to be the next man on that list.
Senior guard Xavier Green is one more notable transfer coming to the Terps from Old Dominion. Green led the Monarchs in minutes played last season. With freshman Julian Reese and Ike Cornish also joining the team, along with redshirt freshman James Graham coming in for his second year, Maryland has a lot of talent on its roster which is the first step for a stellar season.
Maryland has a stacked schedule which kicks off Nov. 9 against Quinnipiac. Here are a few notable games that the Terps’ have lined up:
Maryland vs. Richmond – Nov. 25
Maryland will be hitting the hardwood in the Bahamas for an in-season tournament over Thanksgiving weekend, playing Richmond in their first round matchup. Louisville and Mississippi State are the other two teams in the tournament and would be a potential second game for the Terps.
Virginia Tech at Maryland – Dec. 1
The Terps’ will face Virginia Tech in the Big-Ten/ACC challenge on Dec. 1 in College Park. Maryland is 11-11 all time in the challenge, but only 1-6 since joining the Big Ten.
Maryland vs. Florida – Dec. 12
Maryland will drive up to Brooklyn to take on the Gators in Barclays Center midway through December. This game will take place as part of the Basketball Hall of Fame invitational.
Maryland at Iowa – Jan. 9
After opening Big Ten play in a home tilt on December 5th against Northwestern, the Terps will play their second Big Ten opponent when they travel to Iowa City to face the Hawkeyes. This contest starts their two month long road against exclusively Big Ten teams leading up to the Big Ten tournament in Indianapolis.
There are a lot of expectations for this Maryland team coming into the season. However, one thing to remember is that it’s not how they start, it’s how they finish, a truism we were all reminded of last year.
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