Maryland opens its season on Friday night against Mount St. Mary’s (Md.) at XFINITY Center in College Park. Here are five things you need to know about the matchup, which tips at 7 p.m.
1) Finally, a real game
It has been an offseason of hype and expectations for Maryland. Yes, there was an exhibition, but this is finally the real thing for the Terrapins. Head coach Mark Turgeon has said he is eager for it to begin. Players have said the same. Finally, it’s here.
2) Compensating for Wiley’s loss
Friday marks the first of what will likely be an entire season without sophomore guard Dion Wiley. The Oxon Hill native underwent surgery to repair the torn meniscus in his right knee and set off a domino effect in the rotation because of it.
Who will start? Maryland has options. Sophomore Jared Nickens started the team’s exhibition and gives them size and length on the perimeter, as well as a scoring touch. But Turgeon has been interested in a dual-point guard look that would feature Melo Trimble and Rasheed Sulaimon on the floor at the same time.
That would give Maryland a reliable slasher from the wing in Sulaimon, but also raise questions about who will do the bulk of the scoring on the second unit.
3) Bring on Mayhem
Mount St. Mary’s, under the watch of head coach Jamion Christian, run a system that he calls “Mayhem”. The former VCU assistant under Shaka Smart calls himself the composer of the system and it is fast-paced, up-tempo, and full of threes.
Maryland has some trouble with turnovers early in its exhibition against Southern New Hampshire that allowed the Penmen to keep it closer than they would have liked for a portion of the first half. The Terrapins cannot fall into the same trap on Friday night.
4) Not to be overlooked
In an interview with CSN on Thursday, Christian was asked whether it’s a possibility that Maryland could be overlooking Mount St. Mary’s because a big-time early season showdown against Georgetown looms next week.
Christian said he didn’t believe so because after an offseason where experts had picked Maryland to win the national title, they would be eager to prove they could get off on the right foot.
For the Terrapins sake, hopefully that is their mindset. Mount St. Mary’s will play fast and with energy. They have two All-NEC players in Gregory Graves and BK Ashe and there is experience across the board.
5) Atmosphere change?
Maryland games in the early part of the last few seasons have been played in front of relatively empty arenas in College Park. If the exhibition was any indication (with more than 13,000 in attendance), that should change on Friday.
It’s only natural, being that this team could make a run at a national championship.