Maryland sophomore guard Dion Wiley will undergo surgery to repair the torn meniscus in his right knee and the timetable for his return is not yet exactly known.
As difficult as it is to lose a player before even playing a regular-season game, Wiley’s injury comes at a time when Maryland can best adjust and on a team that has the depth to absorb the hit, regardless of how much time he misses.
Without Wiley, Maryland has four guards it can now rotate through the two guard positions, counting Jared Nickens as one of those players after he started at shooting guard in the team’s exhibition win over Southern New Hampshire.
Melo Trimble, Rasheed Sulaimon, Jalen Brantley, and Nickens give Maryland three legitimate ball handlers and a big-time spot-up shooter, not to mention that Trimble, Sulaimon, and Brantley can all move off the ball themselves and hit shots.
Head coach Mark Turgeon said after Friday’s game that, were Wiley healthy, Brantley would have played less. With the injury, just expect more to be asked of Brantley, but realize that Maryland goes from being a solid 10 players deep to now (just) nine.
For now, it solves what was going to be an impending minutes question while leaning on players who are capable of taking on more responsibilities.
This is where the offseason addition of Sulaimon, with all of his versatility, comes into play.
Not only is he likely the team’s best perimeter defender and a scoring threat as a slasher from the shooting guard spot, but he can distribute the basketball as well.
“He’s our best assist guy,” Turgeon said on Friday. “He shares the ball, especially when Melo’s out of the game he’ll play point. He really thinks the game well and is good and smart and makes guys around him better.
“The best teams play two point guards. The last three national champions had two point guards on the court at the same time. I think Rasheed thinks like a point guard, so it’s good for us.”
Maryland is moving closer to positionless basketball, as least when it comes to within the micro-units of guards and forwards. Wiley’s injury takes away a shooter who has worked hard to improve his overall game, but it is versatility that will help them to compensate in the end.