By Jack Rothenberg
Maryland’s previous campaign was overcome with coaching changes, poor play and false hopes in a season that started with so much excitement, and ended in so much disappointment. Yet, the Terps’ first losing season since 1992-93 may have been for the best.
Maryland turns the page and will start a fresh slate this season with a revamped program that brings new ambitions under new head coach Kevin Willard.
Following a 5-3 start in the 2021-22 season, Mark Turgeon stepped down as head coach which left interim Danny Manning to take over the reins for the remainder of the year. The Terps pulled off wins against three ranked opponents, but never got settled to make a push at the NCAA Tournament.
Michigan State ended Maryland’s season in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament, and then the search for the next long-term head coach began.
After an over three month wait, the Terps finally landed on their new head of the program, former Seton Hall Pirates head coach Kevin Willard. He led the Pirates to five NCAA Tournament appearances in 12 seasons. Willard reconstructed the coaching staff and has already secured local recruits for years to come.
However, with good reason, there are swirling questions about who will lead the team this season.
Notable departures include Eric Ayala (15.1 PPG), Fatts Russell (14.7 PPG), Qudus Wahab (7.7 PPG), and Xavier Green (2.3 PPG). All four accounted for big time shots, rebounds and hustle plays that will be missed.
These losses forced Willard to reach into the transfer portal to replace the production lost from last season. He pulled out four players including former Dematha Catholic point guard Jahmir Young and Donald Carey. Young, the former Charlotte 49er, averaged 19.6 points per game last year and Carey, a transfer from Georgetown, shot around 39% from three.
Donta Scott, Hakim Hart, Julian Reese and Ian Martinez are key players returning from the 2021-22 campaign. Scott and Hart accounted for over 22 points per game last season and will be key for the Terps this season.
Maryland kicks off their season on Nov. 7 at home against Niagara. The Terps will take on two preseason AP top 25 teams in their non-conference slate, No. 8 UCLA and No. 11 Tennessee, and Louisville in the ACC/Big Ten challenge on Nov. 29.
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