COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) The lights were dimmed, the stage was lit and the fans were on their feet as Maryland unveiled its highly touted men’s basketball team Saturday night.
Beginning with prized recruit Diamond Stone, the players waved to the crowd, dribbled the length of the court and threw the ball into the basket.
Thousands roared their approval.
The event was appropriately dubbed “Magic Maryland Madness,” because, as women’s coach Brenda Frese announced: “This is going to be a magical season.”
Men’s coach Mark Turgeon enters his fifth season at the school with a team that is stacked with talent and focused on bringing home Maryland’s first national championship since 2002.
“We’ve worked really hard to get to this point,” Turgeon told the crowd. “When I took the job on May 10 a long time ago, this is what I envisioned for Maryland basketball.”
The women’s team, similarly, has huge expectations this season. After reaching the Final Four in each of the past two years and going unbeaten in its inaugural Big Ten season, the Terrapins will be searching for an encore in 2015-16.
The credo for the season: Back 4 More.
The men are looking to build upon a team that last season went 28-7 overall and 14-4 in the conference.
Sophomore guard Melo Trimble was picked as Big Ten preseason player of the year. He will be helped in the backcourt by senior Rasheed Sulaimon, who transferred from Duke, and returnee Jared Nickens.
Another transfer, former Georgia Tech standout Robert Carter Jr., is ready to go after sitting out a year.
“These fans are so passionate about Maryland basketball. I love it,” said Carter, a 6-9 junior.
Returnee Demonte Dodd will probably share time at center with Stone, a McDonald’s All-American out of Milwaukee. Dodd and Stone, who are both 6-11, along with 7-1 returnee Michal Cekovsky, give the Terrapins a presence in the middle that’s been missing ever since Turgeon replaced Gary Williams in 2011.
“This team has got a lot of talent,” Turgeon said. “We’ve got an opportunity to do some nice things. We’ll see if we can handle it.”
In the 10-minute scrimmage that ended the event, Trimble scored the final six points to lead the Gold to a 14-8 win over the Black, which got two baskets apiece from Carter and Stone.
With 10 players on the court, it was easy to distribute playing time. It might be different with only five.
“We’re running a system that helps you be unselfish,” Turgeon said. “We just have to take advantage of mismatches.”