Brantley, others to take on larger role in opener after injury to Wiley

Feature photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics.

Members of the Maryland Terrapins men’s basketball team were spread out at different tables on team’s media day in October. It was the first chance for reporters to catch a glimpse of the highly anticipated Terps.

Donning a white Terps uniform, sophomore point guard Jaylen Brantley, a transfer from Odessa Community College in Texas, didn’t take long to explain which game he was most excited for.

“Mount Saint Mary’s,” Brantley said on media day. “That’s gonna be the first game of the year so that’s the first game we’re gonna look forward to.”

For Brantley and the Terps that day is finally here, but in the aftermath of a seemingly season-ending injury to guard Dion Wiley, Brantley and others will need to take on an expanded role against the Mountaineers on Friday.  

“One guy goes down, another guy’s gotta step up.” – Mark Turgeon

With Wiley sidelined four months because of a torn meniscus, minutes are going to increase for several players. Turgeon said that guards Jared Nickens, Rasheed Sulaimon, Varun Ram and Brantley’s minute totals will all rise. Forward Jake Layman will also see more time, he said.

Last year, Wiley was one of six players to appear in all 35 games. He averaged 4.1 points and 13.5 minutes per game and shot 32.9 percent from behind the three-point line.

The Mount Saint Mary’s game will be the Terps’ first chance to test out their rotation without Wiley.

“You were hoping with the depth that you didn’t have to play so many minutes early in the season, just wearing guys down,” head coach Mark Turgeon said. “We’re probably going to have to do that, guys are going to have to play more minutes than they would’ve. Instead of playing 28, they might have to play 32.”

Turgeon said Brantley will have a much more significant role as a result of Wiley’s injury.  

“Jaylen probably wasn’t going to be a part of the rotation on most nights and now he is,” Turgeon said. “One guy goes down, another guy’s gotta step up.”

In 29 games for Odessa last year, Brantley averaged 14.3 points and 3.7 assists per game. He shot 36.2 percent from three.

“He’s a confident kid and you know it shows on the court.” – Jake Layman

Long before his arrival in College Park and his junior college stint, Brantley played AAU basketball for the Boston Amatuer Basketball Club alongside Layman.

Now that they are teammates once again, Layman said he believes Brantley is ready for the big stage.

“He’s a confident kid and you know it shows on the court,” Layman said. “He’ll be able to make shots for us this year, which is important. I think defensively he’s come a long way in the time he’s been here.”

Layman said he helped Brantley shake off any jitters in the team’s exhibition game against Southern New Hampshire last week. In 14 minutes off the bench, Brantley scored four points on one of four shooting. He dished out two assists and turned the ball over twice.

“That’s to be expected,” Layman said. “It was kind of his first time playing in a game where people are really passionate about basketball, especially the fans. It’s not easy to play your first game like that.”

“He’s the next man up.” – Robert Carter Jr.

While the Terrapin faithful are just getting their first taste of Brantley, the team has come to know him since he joined the team.

“Jaylen will be fine, he’s the next man up,” forward Robert Carter Jr. said. “Jaylen has been practicing hard just like everybody else. We have a lot of confidence in Jaylen.”

While the Terps are still figuring things out rotation wise, they’re not taking their game against the Mountaineers lightly.

Mount St. Mary’s was picked to win the Northeast Conference by the conference’s preseason coaches poll. Two seasons ago, they appeared in the NCAA tournament as a 16 seed, falling to Albany in one of the First Four matchups.

Turgeon said he expects the Terps’ first opponent to post a competitive effort this season.

“We hope they start 0-1, but we feel like they’re going to win a lot of games, which really helps us down the road,” Turgeon said. “That’s why we did it … I’ve got respect for their program and the way they do things and they’re well coached.”

As Brantley alluded to on media day, the Terps are taking it one day at a time and can’t wait to get onto the court. Turgeon mirrored this one day prior to the regular season tip off.

“We’re all excited,” Turgeon said. “You know, we’re tired of all the talk. We just want to play games. All the talk about us. We just want to play. We just want to go out.” 

About The Opponent – Mount St. Mary’s Mountaineers (Northeast Conference)Mount_St_Marys_Logo

  • They played two exhibition games against division three opponents: Hood and Randolph-Macon, winning those contests 64-44 and 79-63 respectively.
  • In the win over Randolph-Macon, guards Junior Robinson and BK Ashe combined for 43 points. The team shot 57.1 percent from the field and 40 percent from three.
  • Mount St. Mary’s has never beaten Maryland. The Terps hold a 7-0 lead in the all-time series dating back to 1987.
Alex Flum

Alex Flum

Alex, a sophomore broadcast journalism major, joined The Left Bench in 2015 and will cover the Maryland Men's Basketball team this year. He is a native of the DC Area and a long-suffering DC Sports fan (especially Wizards and Redskins).
Alex Flum
About Alex Flum 54 Articles
Alex, a sophomore broadcast journalism major, joined The Left Bench in 2015 and will cover the Maryland Men's Basketball team this year. He is a native of the DC Area and a long-suffering DC Sports fan (especially Wizards and Redskins).