Kevin Huerter drafted by Atlanta Hawks with 19th pick in 2018 NBA draft

Kevin Huerter was faced with a tough decision just a few weeks ago. Stay at the University of Maryland for his junior year or declare for the NBA draft? On May 30, Huerter surprised many with his announcement that he would be forgoing his final two years at Maryland to declare for the NBA draft.

The decision was initially met with both support and criticism but on Thursday night it all paid off as Huerter was drafted by the Atlanta Hawks with the 19th overall pick. Huerter becomes just the third player from Maryland to be drafted in the first round in the last ten years. Alex Len was taken with the fifth overall pick in 2013, marking the only other first round selection to come out of the Mark Turgeon era.

The Terrapins suffered a disappointing 2017-18 season after losing some key players to injury, but through all that frustration Huerter was a constant bright spot. The sophomore averaged 14.8 points, 5 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game but really made himself a threat by shooting 41.7 percent from beyond the three point line.

Just a few months ago Huerter was not on the radar of many NBA scouts. However, the 19-year-old was invited to the NBA combine in May where he put on a show in shooting drills and five-on-five scrimmages. By the end of those four days in Chicago, Huerter had the attention of every scout and a lot of major media outlets as well. All of sudden his name was showing up in mock drafts and there was almost a unanimous sense around the league that he would be a first round pick.

The only thing holding Huerter’s draft potential back was a torn ligament in his right hand. It was reported that Huerter suffered the injury while playing Northwestern this past February, but it was not serious enough to sideline him. A few months later the injury in his shooting hand was still lingering, but it didn’t seem to have a negative impact on his combine performance.

Last week Huerter announced he had undergone surgery to repair the injury but would be sidelined for two months as a result. This might have turned some teams away but others in the media believed Huerter had already done enough to secure a spot in the first round.

Image credit: Charles Rex Arbogast / AP

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Maryland bounced from Big Ten tournament early after 59-54 loss to Wisconsin

Coming off of an embarrassing loss to Michigan on senior day, the Maryland Terrapins were tasked with winning four games in four consecutive days if they wanted to make it back to the NCAA tournament for the fourth year in a row.

As the #9 seed in the Big Ten, Maryland was set to face off against Wisconsin on Thursday. When these teams met earlier in the year, the Terps were able to walk away with a 68-63 win. The Terps looked to do the same on Thursday afternoon at Madison Square Garden. Mark Turgeon’s team played with a lot of energy and speed for almost the entire forty minutes but in the end, the Badgers picked up the crucial baskets in crunch time to secure a 59-54 win and a date with Michigan State on Friday.

Depth concerns have circled around Maryland for months now. In that time, a lot of close games have been lost by the Terps and changes clearly needed to be made if they were going to turn things around. The teams scoring leaders, Anthony Cowan and Kevin Huerter, helped with this by stepping out of the spotlight in a few games down the stretch. However, with their season on the line, the two knew they had to show up on Thursday in order to get the Terps into the next round.

Cowan and Huerter jump started the Terps offense by being involved in the teams first 16 points. Through the first 12 minutes of play, the sophomore duo either scored or assisted every Maryland basket. As the game continued the two would not shy away from their leadership roles. Cowan scored 16 and was dominate in transition, helping to keep the Terps on pace with the Badgers. Huerter led the team with 20 points while shooting 8-15 from the field.

To give you an idea of what kind of game this was, consider this. Both teams combined to make just five three pointers in the entire game but didn’t seem too concerned with that. Transition play and rebounding were the real keys to each teams success. As expected, Ethan Happ gave Maryland some trouble under the basket. The junior forward led the Badgers with 14 points and seven rebounds.

After holding a 28-26 advantage at halftime, the Badgers were able to hold on to their lead by getting to the foul line. Wisconsin went 20-24 at the line while the Terps only had nine opportunities for free points. Throw in a 12-7 turnover disadvantage and you can see what led to the Terps downfall.

Despite this, Maryland was right in the game right up until the final seconds expired off the clock. With under 10 seconds to play, Huerter tried driving to the rim for the tying score but ended up getting fouled in the process. The Terps needed him to sink two but an extended stoppage in play before the shot attempts seemed to bother Huerter as he missed the front half of the free throws.

The Badgers spent a lot of time changing player positions in the paint prior to the free throw attempts and the refs allowed them to do so while Huerter was forced to stand their and wait. Before taking the first shot, cameras showed the sophomore clapping and asking the ref for the ball with a frustrated look on his face.

After this miss, the Badgers were able to sink their free throws and take a three-point lead before forcing a turnover and putting the game on ice. This marks the fourth time in the past eight years that the Terps have missed the NCAA tournament. They have also only made the NIT once under Mark Turgeon. Their future is still up in the air after failing to finish above .500 in conference play and then making an early exit from the Big Ten tourney.

We will be here for any potential games left this season for the Maryland Terrapins. Thank you for reading and following the team with us. Lets hope for a more exciting and injury free season in 2018-19.

Image credit: Mary Altaffer / AP

Maryland captures elusive road win by taking down Northwestern 71-64

It was not pretty and the second half certainly wasn’t clean, but in the end the Maryland Terrapins pulled out their second road win of the season by taking down Northwestern 71-64.

With these two teams meeting just nine days ago, there was some familiarity when they stepped on the court Monday night. The Wildcats were coming off of a devastating loss to Michigan State in which they lead the Spartans by 27 but still managed to lose 65-60. Maryland, on the other hand, has enjoyed a decent amount of success in recent games while winning three of their last five.

The Terrapins shot over 50% from the field in Monday’s win over Northwestern but got a great deal of offensive production from some players who usually remain quiet. Michael Cekovsky has not started much since returning from injury but still provides the team with a nice boost off of the bench.

It’s not often that Maryland has an advantage under the basket but Cekovsky didn’t waste anytime using that to his benefit when he came off the bench in the first half. The 7-foot-6-inch senior dominated the rim with three dunks and four rebounds in the first half.

Dion Wiley also came through with one of his more flashy performances of the year. Mark Turgeon has given Wiley an opportunity to start a lot of games over the past few weeks but he has stuck to his role as a facilitator for the most part. On Monday, the junior from Oxon Hill dropped 13 while adding three rebounds and a pair of steals.

Kevin Huerter would finish with 18 points and four assists to lead the Maryland offense. He was also responsible for three of the Terrapins five three pointers in the game. It was interesting to see Maryland shy away from the deep shots especially in the first half when the Wildcats were flourishing from beyond the arc. Chris Collins’ team shot 15 three pointers in the first half and managed to sink eight of them to take a 37-30 lead at the break.

However, that previously mentioned height difference between each teams big men helped the Terps keep pace with Northwestern early and eventually pull away. I am also a little surprised with just how fast the Terps played at points, especially in the second half. With the regular season coming to a close, I would have guessed that most of the team would be drained from playing extended minutes all year. Instead, Maryland did a lot of their scoring in transition and appeared to fluster the Wildcats down the stretch.

Maryland’s 41 point second half was fun to watch mainly because of their consistency. There were no scoring droughts as the Terps spent the full 20 minuets battling to either get even or hold on to a slim lead. Just like their game against Rutgers on Saturday, Maryland did a good job of closing the game out with a lead as well. Northwestern started intentionally fouling a little earlier than expected and the Terrapins took advantage by going 6-6 from the line to put the game on ice.

This second road win has been a long time coming for the Terps. There have been a lot of close calls since they took down Illinois in overtime earlier this season but they could never quiet get it done. I was happy to see Maryland thrive away from home but I can’t help but think about Northwestern’s arena situation.

The Wildcats have been relocated to the Allstate Arena this season while their normal home gets renovated. This has resulted in a lack of home court advantage for Northwestern. Just look at this picture of their student section from tonight’s game. None the less, the Terps found a win outside of the Xfinity Center and that all that matters.

Maryland will honor their senior players this Saturday as Michigan makes a trip to College Park. Big wins have eluded the Terps all season but they will get one more crack at it as the Wolverines are currently sitting at No. 17 in the AP rankings.

Image credit: Jim Young / AP

Slow start comes back to bite Terps in 75-67 loss to #3 Purdue

Maryland limped into their Wednesday night matchup against Purdue as a desperate team. The last few weeks have seen many disappointing performances and tough losses but things got even worse for the Terps when they lost Michael Cekovsky to an ankle injury in Tuesdays practice. The severity of the injury is unknown but Cekovsky did not make the trip to Mackey Arena on Wednesday, leaving the Terps very undermanned against the #3 team in the nation.

If you’re like me, you were anticipating a blowout loss after hearing this unfortunate news. Maryland certainly didn’t do themselves any favors early on and failed to score a basket for the first four minutes of the game. This cold start looked like the beginning of the end but the Terps hung around throughout the first half thanks to a slightly underwhelming offensive performance by Purdue.

The Boilermakers finished the half shooting just 35% from the field. In addition to this, they failed to flex their muscle under the basket and allowed Maryland to match them in rebounds. However, a lopsided 11-1 turnover margin would be the downfall for the Terps. Purdue wasn’t running their best offense but this advantage was enough to give them a 35-24 lead at the half.

I think the best way to describe this Maryland team and their season is a tale of two halves. Every major game usually sees Mark Turgeon’s team start strong but fall apart late thanks to a lack of depth. Wednesday nights game was definitely a tale of two halves but this time Maryland was able to turn it on and play a great second half.

Maryland nearly doubled their first half point total while testing the Boilermakers down the stretch. Bruno Fernando and Darryl Morsell helped lead a potential comeback with great second half performances but the size disadvantage and depth issues would catch up with the Terps in the end.

Fernando struggled to assert himself against Purdue’s big men early in the game but started the second half with a pair of impressive possessions. The electric freshman would end up finishing with 20 points despite battling foul trouble. Morsell contributed 13 points of his own and played a very tough game on the boards. The Freshman picked up seven rebounds int he first half and finished the game with nine for a new career high.

Kevin Huerter had a great second half performance as well and single-handedly put the Terps back in the game. Around the nine minute mark Huerter nailed three straight three pointers to cut Purdue’s lead to just one possession. It was their slimmest lead since the very beginning of the game when they went up 4-0. The environment had completely changed after this quick nine point run but Purdue had an answer.

Good teams do not crumble under pressure and even though the Boilermakers had just surrendered their lead, Matt Painter was able to setttle his team down with a timeout. They would come out of this short break and put together a mini 7-0 run to take back a ten point lead.

Purdue had trouble stopping Huerter and the Terps from beyond the arc but they were able to utilize the drastic size difference to easily regain their lead and eventually close out the game. No matter how many big shots the Terps made, Purdue was just too tough under the rim. As usual Isaac Haas was a forced to be reckoned with. The senior racked up 20 points with ease to lead the Boilermakers to their 18th straight win.

Sophomore guard Carsen Edwards had 17 points while Dakota Mathias chipped in 11 and made his 200th career three pointer in the first half. The Boilermakers now have the longest active win streak in the nation and continue to build their best conference start in school history. Early in the year, Michigan State looked like a clear favorite to walk away with the Big Ten but Purdue has quickly emerged as the new front-runner.

Maryland hasn’t had the easiest schedule but anytime you lose six out of eight, there is a reason to be concerned. The Terps are still winless against ranked opponents and the road ahead will likely only offer one more chance to change that. The Cekovsky injury will be a huge factor moving forward as well. I would assume losing him for any amount of games would surely put the nail in Maryland’s season.

Image Credit: Michael Conroy / AP

Terps take late lead but can’t hold on in 68-67 loss to #23 Michigan

Maryland walked into Ann Arbor on Monday night and quickly took control of their game against #23 Michigan but still ended up losing in disappointing fashion. The Wolverines passed the Terps at the last second with a pair of free throws by Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman and escaped with a 68-67 win.

Anthony Cowan put up 24 points and left it all on the court for the Terps, but in the end it wasn’t enough to take down Michigan. The newly-ranked Wolverines leaned on their veteran players after getting off to a slow start and held off the Terps late in the game.

Michigan shot just 31% from the field in the first half, and found themselves down by ten at the half. Maryland did not do anything spectacular during this stretch but they certainly controlled the pace of the game by running a balanced offense and grabbing rebounds. Not only was Michigan shooting poorly, but they showed almost no hustle when it came to getting offensive rebounds. Maryland held a 22-12 advantage in that category at the half.

Unlike their past losses to Michigan State and Ohio State, the Terps’ lack of depth was not exposed in the first half. Everything was moving slow and the home crowd was clearly impacted by it. Once the Wolverines sped the game up, everything changed.

Michigan came out of the half swinging and quickly tied the game up with a 10-0 run. A few minutes later, the Wolverines put on a three-point shooting contest and started to run away from Maryland. Michigan nailed seven baskets from beyond the arc over a five-minute span. You have to give credit where it is due and Michigan deserves it, but Maryland left their shooters wide open on almost all of these attempts.

As the clock ticked away and the game approached crunch time, the defect felt twice as large but Maryland remained within striking distance. Kevin Huerter finally came to life after a quiet start and joined Cowan to put Maryland just one possession behind Michigan. The two sophomores combined for a dozen points in the final two minutes but the biggest shot came from Huerter with just seconds left.

With 16 seconds remaining and no timeouts, Maryland needed a basket to tie. The ball was passed around quickly but Huerter ended up drilling a deep three-pointer to give the Terps a 67-66 lead. After the hectic sequence the Wolverines were left with just three seconds to inbound and score.

Michigan faced no resistance from Maryland on the inbound as they easily got the ball across mid court on the pass. Senior guard Abdur-Rahkman raced toward the basket and got tripped up by Bruno Fernando, drawing a foul. In a fairy tale finish, Abdur-Rahkman sunk both free throws to give himself seven on the night and 1,000 for his career.

This is not the Terps’ first heartbreaking defeat of the year but it will sting the most. After dropping big games against Syracuse, Purdue, Michigan State and Ohio State, Maryland was given yet another opportunity and they squandered it.

There is no single moment to blame, though. Obviously, the Terps should have defended the inbound better and not given one of the best free throw shooters in the game a chance to win at the line. But what about the Terps’ own foul shooting? Despite struggling to score a basket at times in the second half, Maryland drew fouls. However, they went just 9-for-14 at the line. Just a few more of those and you get a win.

My biggest gripe has to be the pace of play. The key to Maryland’s first half success was so clear but they failed to stick with it when Michigan started to make a comeback. When you lose by one point, you look back at all the little things that happened down the stretch. Trying to run a fast offense while throwing up bricks should be looming over the Terps as they leave Ann Arbor because they have no one to blame but themselves for this loss.

Maryland is now 1-4 on the road but they will return home on Thursday to host Minnesota. The Golden Gophers hold a similar record to the Terps and are scrapping just as hard to make a name for themselves in the Big Ten.

Image credit: Tony Ding / Associated Press

Terps fall to Ohio State 91-69 after cold shooting performance

On Thursday night, the Maryland Terrapins lost to Ohio State 91-69, marking their second blowout loss in the last three games. Conference play has not been kind to the Terps so far and things are not looking any brighter on the horizon.

Ohio State was not ranked coming into this matchup but they should be by next Monday. After knocking off #1 Michigan State on Sunday, the Buckeyes became one of the hottest teams in the Big Ten and they moved to 5-0 in conference play after stomping the Terps on Thursday.

Keita Bates-Diop has been one of the biggest standouts in the Big Ten this year, averaging 20 points per game. He led the way for the Buckeyes once again on Thursday by recording 26 points and eight rebounds. Overall the Buckeyes had an amazing shooting night to help lift themselves over the visiting Terps.

Just for comparison, Ohio State shot 52% from the field in their win over Michigan State last week and they shoo 56% against Maryland. The Buckeyes were even better from the three-point line, picking up 17 of their 32 baskets from beyond the arc. Three other players, in addition to Bates-Diop, finished with double-digit point totals.

Maryland was abysmal from the field all night. The Terps shot just 36% and got about 25% of their points from the free-throw line. Unlike past losses, the turnover margin was not to blame. Maryland coughed up the ball just seven times but still managed to lose in lopsided fashion.

Like in their loss to the Spartans last week, Maryland found themselves on the wrong side of a scoring run at the end of the first half.  The teams were tied at 22 with eight minutes to play but the Buckeyes quickly took complete control with a 22-2 scoring run. Mark Turgeon did not call a timeout during this entire span even though the Terps were clearly not running their proper game plan. The Buckeyes defense was stout but when your team is forcing shots early in the clock and not hustling back on fast breaks, you need to call a timeout and reset.

The only player who didn’t have a terrible night for the Terps was Michael Cekovsky. The senior started his night by going 5-for-5 with ten points and finished with 18. Anthony Cowan and Kevin Huerter usually lead the way on offense but the two combined to shoot 7-for-23. Rounding out the starting lineup were freshmen Darryl Morsell and Bruno Fernando. The two have been electric in the past but were non-existent in Thursday’s loss, combining for six points on 1-for-9 shooting.

Its’ difficult to not be frustrated with this Maryland team. When they started the season there was a lot of promise and opportunity but that has faded pretty quickly. Certainly the injuries have had a big impact on their play but the opportunities to pick up quality wins continue to come and go.

The Terps have played a handful of games against quality opponents but their best wins are still against Butler and Penn State. Meanwhile, there are already at least three or four losses that will come back to haunt the Terps when the season is over.

Mark Turgeon and the Terps will take the weekend off before traveling to face Michigan on Monday. This presents yet another opportunity for Maryland to pick up a big win. Hopefully they can regroup and put themselves in a position to win down the stretch instead of falling behind early.

Image credit: Adam Cairns / TNS

Terps fail to keep pace with #1 ranked Spartans in 91-61 loss

After picking up a solid win over Penn State on Tuesday, Maryland was faced with their biggest matchup of the season. The only problem is they had just two days to prepare. The Terps traveled to East Lansing on Thursday and got blown out by the #1 ranked Michigan State Spartans 91-61.

It’s almost crazy to think how fast the game fell apart for Maryland. With six minutes to play in the first half, the two Big Ten teams were tied at 29 points. The Terps came out of the gate fast and matched the Spartans intensity by hitting eight of their first ten shots. Kevin Huerter was the key to this hot start and ended up scoring 14 points in the first half.

Despite getting off to an amazing start, Maryland could not keep Michigan State down. The Spartans enjoyed an insane three-point shooting percentage in the first half, going 10-16 and scoring 30 or their first 44 points from beyond the arc.

Once the Spartans started to create some separation it was over for this inexperienced Maryland team. Michigan State finished the half with a 15-3 run to take a 44-29 lead the break.

The Terps came into this game as an extreme underdog for many reasons. One of those being the fact that Michigan State has a lot of depth and the Terps don’t after their recent injuries. This became evident as the Spartans started to pull away. Mark Turgeon’s team looked gassed and were just trying to make it to the half.

The problem is, Maryland came out of the break looking just as uninspired. Michigan State is the number one team in the country for a reason, but the Terps didn’t show much of an effort to change their game plan. Both Anthony Cowan and Huerter looked very confident at times but they couldn’t get the ball inside to mix up the offensive attack. This forced the perimeter players to throw up way too many contested three pointers while the game slipped away.

To harp on the depth issues, Both Bruno Fernando and Michael Cekovsky had four fouls a piece before the mid-way point in the second half. This made them absolutely non-existent for the remainder of the game and they finished with seven and two points respectively. With no one to substitute, Maryland just couldn’t keep pace with a very fast and fluid Spartan team.

Just to emphasize how dominate Michigan State was, four players finished the night with double-digit scoring. Miles Bridges has been a monster for the Spartans this season and he put on a show Thursday night with 15 points, 7 assists, and 6 rebounds.

Michigan State also came very close to scoring 100 points in their fifth straight game. However, the previous four games were against non-conference pushovers like Houston Baptist and Long Beach State. I will let you decide what that says about Maryland. The Spartans have scored less than 80 points in just four games this season.

You can’t help but feel disappointing in this Maryland team. I know that they had a slim chance to defeat the best team in the country on two days rest but after their hot start, the second half was just torture to watch. The Terps will have a chance to bounce back on Sunday as they rerun home to host Iowa. The Hawkeyes are really struggling this season with a 9-8 record (0-4 in Big Ten) that puts them at the bottom of the conference.

Image Credit: Rey Del Rio / Getty Images