It's a New Era, but Same Old Maryland
Gone is Greivis Vasquez, reigning ACC Player of the Year and first-round draft pick, along with established veterans Eric Hayes and Landon Milbourne. It's a group that led the Terrapins to back-to-back NCAA tournament appearances for the first time since their streak of 11 consecutive trips was dashed during the 2004-05 season.
"They've kind of set the bar for our upcoming players," coach Gary Williams said at media day on Thursday,
But now, it's a new era in College Park. And this year's seniors said it was weird to be back in the Comcast Center without the teammates they'd had since arriving on campus.
There are questions about where the points will come from -- when those three players left, they took with them 54 percent of Maryland's offense. There are questions about leadership -- inevitable given the stamp Vasquez put on the program.
Still, there's a sense that the Terrapins will be more similar than different. After all, this is Gary Williams. This is Maryland. And while Williams said he'd be more of a teacher this year, he's not about to adjust his approach in his 22nd season.
"No, I'll be my usual calm self," Williams said wryly. "I'm sure when things go wrong in practice I won't get upset and things like that.
"No, I'm going to coach like I've always coached."
The real change is in the leadership on the court. No one is going to be Vasquez, but the seniors have been filling that void since workouts began this summer.
"I see myself changing as a leader, being more vocal," senior forward Dino Gregory said. "It's kind of surprising me sometimes like 'Whoa, did I just say that?' But yeah, it's pretty cool."
The Terps are once again seen as a middle of the pack team in a conference that is wide-open behind consensus favorite Duke, the defending national champions. This is business as usual for Maryland, which earned a surprise share of the regular season title last season.
"Since my freshman year, we're always the underdogs no matter what," said junior Sean Mosley, one of two returning starters. "Only thing you got to come out here and do is win a some games, get to the tournament and prove a lot of people wrong, which I think we can do this year."
Helping out will be five incoming freshman and a junior transfer. The new kids couldn't speak to the departed old guard, but they had plenty to say about the program.
"Scrappy," freshman Mychal Parker said. "Maryland, it's a team that don't give up. I love a team like that."
New team, same old story. And the Terps are ready to scrap this season, with the three seniors leading the way. Williams said he hopes they play with something to prove, after three years waiting for big-time minutes.
It won't take much convincing. The seniors want to go out the same way as their predecessors -- in the NCAA tournament.
"We don't have Greivis any more, we don't have Eric or Landon," senior guard Adrian Bowie said. "It's our turn."