Commentary

CBB Summer Buzz: Maryland

With Vasquez and vets, the Terps could rise ... if they get some "big" help

Updated: August 6, 2009, 3:14 PM ET
By Matt Meyers | ESPN The Magazine

Insider knows you're hot for hoops during the summer, so we bring you a closer look at five programs on the rise, five on the way down and five at a crossroads. On Thursday, we continue our look at the latter group -- teams that could head in either direction this season -- with Maryland. Friday, the series concludes with Oklahoma.

Maryland Terrapins

21-14 (NCAA second round)

It's hard to think of another team that has fallen from grace in recent years as much as Maryland, the 2002 national champs. Head coach Gary Williams has been roundly criticized for his inability to bring in elite recruits, and the lack of big-time talent was never more evident than on Jan. 24, when the Terps lost 85-44 at Duke. Somehow, the team managed to bounce back from that humiliation and handed eventual national champion North Carolina one of its four losses last season. Maryland even managed an NCAA berth (and a win over Cal). With point guard Greivis Vasquez deciding to remove his name from the NBA draft, coupled with ACC rivals UNC, Duke and Wake Forest all losing key players, the window is open for Maryland, which will bring back eight of its top nine players in terms of minutes played. But the Terps won't be alone in taking aim at the top.

"The league is wide open, and not just for us," Williams said. "Clemson has been good the last couple of years, as has Florida State. On paper, Georgia Tech is probably as strong as anyone."

Lacking the blue-chip recruits their ACC rivals will use to reinforce their squads, the Terps will look to their veterans to lead them in the right direction. But there are still a couple of talented newcomers flocking to College Park, and they could help correct a big flaw in UMD's game.

To see how an incoming freshman brought down the house, how some new big bodies can help the Terps take advantage of team strength and get analysis from Jay Bilas, Doug Gottlieb and Joe Lunardi, you must be an ESPN Insider. Insider