REASONS TO HOPE
• General (Greivis) principles - The Terps have the best backcourt option (if not the top player) in the league in guard Greivis Vasquez. The senior can single-handedly keep Maryland in games, and he reduced his proclivity for turnovers last season. Having the best player on the floor never hurts.
• Milbourne supremacy - Is he a three? Is he a four? Does it really matter? The biggest question about senior Landon Milbourne’s final season is whether he’ll have the stamina to hold up deep into February and March. His effort was never a question, and after a year of plugging in the paint, he’ll be better prepared for the rigors of league play.
• The sweetness of Sugar Sean - The biggest pending leap for anyone on the roster might come from sophomore Sean Mosley, whose offensive assertiveness could change the scoring distribution of the backcourt. After deferring to veterans last season, the second-leading scorer in Maryland high school history is a breakout candidate.
• Gary the Maximizer - The Terps are coming off a season in which they clearly maximized the talent on their roster. That credit goes to the players as well as coach Gary Williams, who thrived in last winter’s maelstrom and delivered a 20-win team by Selection Sunday. If he matches that performance, the Terps have a chance for big things.
REASONS TO WORRY
• Dino’s destiny - Forward Dino Gregory missed the Terps’ exhibition game because of a nebulous “violation of team rules,” and the athletic department cited federal privacy guidelines to buttress its no comment. The junior’s long-term status remains unresolved, and his absence shreds Maryland’s frontcourt depth.
• Freshmen are freshmen - Regardless of Gregory’s situation, freshmen James Padgett and Jordan Williams were going to be counted upon to bolster Maryland’s frontcourt. Sometimes newcomers pan out quickly. Sometimes they take time to adjust to college. Sometimes they fizzle. There’s no telling how helpful Padgett and Williams will be this season.
• The RPI battle - Certainly, Villanova will be good this season. And there could be two quality opponents at the Maui Invitational. There’s also a lot of nonconference flotsam and jetsam from the bottom 150 of last year’s RPI, meaning there might not be an out-of-league boost.
• Living up to last year - Under incredible scrutiny and during a wildly fluctuating season, the Terps scratched out an NCAA invite last March. For as determined as that group was, it can’t be easy to maintain a solid performance in a crucible in consecutive seasons. It would be best for this outfit to avoid those circuslike conditions this time around.