COLLEGE PARK – Penn and Teller have nothing on this act. It was a magical night on Oct. 17 at the Xfinity Center in College Park, as the University of Maryland held its annual “Magic Maryland Madness” event in preparation for the upcoming 2015-2016 basketball season. Maryland’s men’s and women’s teams entertained the raucous Terrapin […]
COLLEGE PARK – Penn and Teller have nothing on this act.
It was a magical night on Oct. 17 at the Xfinity Center in College Park, as the University of Maryland held its annual “Magic Maryland Madness” event in preparation for the upcoming 2015-2016 basketball season.
Maryland’s men’s and women’s teams entertained the raucous Terrapin crowd with jaw-dropping team introductions, along with a dance number that was completely choreographed by both teams. Each team danced in unison to today’s hit music such as “Hit the Quan” and “Uptown Funk,” followed by a live scrimmage to feature both teams.
Magician JP Wilson kicked off the magical evening with an amazing performance that had to be seen to believe. The illusionist performed numerous disappearing acts with his assistant that left everyone scratching their heads on how they were performed. That was followed by the introduction of the Terrapins’ women’s basketball team, who has set high goals for this season after finishing last year’s campaign as the nation’s No. 4 ranked team.
The Xfinity Center erupted when senior and fan favorite Brene Moseley was introduced as the starting guard. Head Coach Brenda Frese said she is thrilled for her team and the upcoming season.
“Everything that they did was making history last year, going undefeated 18-0 in the Big 10, winning the Big 10 Tournament, and leading this team to back to back Final Fours,” Frese said. “I hope this has everyone fired up, because this is going to be a magical season.”
The men’s team was introduced second. If the crowd was loud for the women’s team, the ovation the men’s team received was deafening, which may be bad news for all of the Terrapin opponents this season, as the crowd noise at home games will be a major factor.
To the surprise of some and the excitement of many, the Terrapins are ranked as the No. 1 team in ESPN’s Top 25 poll and No. 3 in the USA Today Coaches Poll after going 28-7 in 2014-15. Even with all of the success of last year’s team, there is no denying that this year’s team is even better on paper.
Point guard Melo Trimble is a candidate for Player of the Year, senior “stretch-4” Jake Layman is a headache for any opposing coach, and one can’t forget the addition of one the best big man in the latest recruiting class in blue-chip center Diamond Stone. Then there is Duke transfer Rasheed Sulaimon, who was a five-star recruit coming out of high school four years ago. Add all of that up and the Terrapins seem like a no-brainer as a title contender only 18 months removed from a below average 2013 season.
“I knew that coming back would be a great decision,” Trimble said. “For me, to get better, it is one more year under my belt to mature as a point guard. My assist-to-turnover ratio wasn’t great, so I hope to improve that with the players around me. We compete every day and you won’t see us not competing. We may ‘lack’ on offense, but I know on defense we’re going to compete.”
The Terps cheerleaders, plus the Gymkana and dance teams, also put on highly energetic performances to get the crowd going. Their performances were followed by a five- minute scrimmage from the women’s squad, and then a 10-minute scrimmage from the men’s team to send the crowd home with a taste of what they will see this upcoming season.
Although the scores didn’t matter, all eyes were on Stone, who scored half of his team’s points. He also grabbed a rebound and recorded a block.
Layman spoke on the new roster for this season and what the upperclassmen need to do in order to bring the new guys along.
“The summer was big,” said Layman, who’s leadership is going to be crucial in his final year of eligibility with such an inexperienced, yet talented around him. “We’re still trying to teach things to the younger guys. Rasheed just got here not too long ago, so we’re trying to teach them how to do things here and how Coach (Mark) Turgeon wants things done.”
Turgeon was pleased with the turnout and thought the event was a great thing for the players and the fans.
“This was good,” Turgeon said. “I think the players of both teams had a good time and the fans had a good time. I was actually happy with how our guys played. They played hard and didn’t make it an ‘All-Star Game’ and showed a little bit of what we’re going to be about.”
Turgeon said the fans will contribute to the Terps’ season in a big way.
“You take the Maryland job because they are passionate fans. They are passionate about their product and their basketball program,” Turgeon said. “We have a great product and we had a great product last year. The fans are very important and we need to be great at home. But it’s a good feeling to know that a building this big is sold out for the season.”
If Maryland can duplicate the magic it had last season, Terrapin fans should expect big things from these two teams this upcoming season.