Maryland basketball is back.
On Saturday Night, the 47th annual Maryland Madness was held at the Xfinity Center, formally introducing both the men’s and women’s basketball teams.
The women’s team was introduced first, and the Terps fans were finally able to meet a squad full of new faces. The 2017-18 team has huge shoes to fill, as the Terps lost seniors Brionna Jones and Shatori Walker-Kimbrough to graduation. The two were both top-10 WNBA picks, and just completed their rookie years.
The women’s squad also lost their freshmen sensation from a year ago, as guard Destiny Slocum transferred to Oregon State.
Jones, Walker-Kimbrough, and Slocum were the three leading scorers on the 2016-17 team that won 32 of their first 34 games before being upset by Oregon in the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16.
After introductions, the women’s team played a five-minute five-on-five scrimmage that featured several sloppy passes, three-point attempts, and very little defense. Of course, the scrimmage isn’t intended to be game-level intense, as almost every player had an ear-to-ear grin throughout the game.
The red squad consisted of Sarah Myers, Blair Watson, Aja Ellison, Ieshia Small, Kaila Charles, while the black squad featured Stephanie Jones, Eleanna Christinaki, Kristen Confroy, Channise Lewis, and Brianna Fraser.
The red squad seemed to take it a little more seriously, as they dominated the black squad, winning 16-8.
After a brief, combined performance by the Maryland Cheer and Maryland Dance teams, the men’s squad was introduced.
Head coach Mark Turgeon took the mic and addressed the crowd on what should be a good season for the Terps. Turgeon emphasized that the team is “much bigger across the board this year,” which will help them against bigger bodied Big Ten teams.
“A lot of strength, a lot of length,” forward Justin Jackson said on what the three new additions, Sean Obi, Darryl Morsell, and Bruno Fernando, bring. “Those guys that love to run, guys that finish at the rim, share the ball. I feel like we have great chemistry.”
Turgeon tried to bring the crowd to life by attempting a half court shot, but he airballed his first attempt, then bricked his second — not a good showing by the Terrapins head coach.
A brief dance-off occurred between the men’s and women’s squad, with the women dancing to 2Milli’s “Milly Rock” and Cardi B’s “Bodak Yellow,” while the men danced to Zay Hilfigerrr and Zayion McCall’s “JuJu on the Beat,” and Kendrick Lamar’s “D.N.A.”
The men’s team was given slight edge over the women’s team, according to the fans.
To conclude the event, we saw the men’s team also face off in a five-on-five scrimmage for 10 minutes. The black team was led by senior Jared Nickens and sophomore Kevin Huerter. Darryl Morsell, Ivan Bender, Travis Valmon, Alex Tostado, and graduate transfer Sean Obi rounded out the squad.
The red squad was led by the sophomores Justin Jackson and Anthony Cowan, who were second and third, respectively, in scoring for the Terps a year ago. Joshua Tomaic, Michal Cekovsky, Dion Wiley, Andrew Terrell, and Reese Mona rounded out the squad.
In a much faster-moving, more competitive contest, the red squad edged out the black squad, 23-19. Wiley led the way for the red squad with two three pointers.
“He’s been really good in practice,” Turgeon said on Wiley. “He’s been shooting it well, playing with confidence. He’s not where he was before he got hurt, but he’s getting closer.”
For the first time since the 2013-2014 season, the Terps will be without point guard Melo Trimble, who was been the alpha dog of the Terrapins the last three seasons. Trimble declared for the NBA Draft in May and forfeited his final year of collegiate eligibility.
The team is looking for seniors to step up as leaders, with Nickens emerging as one in particular.
“It’s a new role for me. I’m working on it,” Nickens said on being a leader. “But I know guys like [Cekovsky] and Kevin [Huerter] have been helping me out with it, being that they have had that experience as well.”
The women’s team will begin preseason play on Oct. 29 against Glenville State while the men’s team start on Nov. 2 against Randolph-Macon College.
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