COLLEGE PARK, MD, Xfinity Center, December 29, 2019
Maryland defeats Bryant 84-70 as the Maryland Terrapins debuts center Chol Marial.
It has been a tough December for the Maryland Terrapins men’s basketball team. It is as if the Grinch decided to set up shop in College Park these past three weeks.
The Terps lost two away games in mid December after a heroic last second win against Illinois at home. Gone was their top ten ranking and a chance to preserve an undefeated early season start.
Then on the Friday before Christmas twin brothers Makhi and Makhel Mitchell both freshman forwards took a leap of faith and jumped over to the NCAA transfer portal. Good bye Terps, hello whomever needs a packaged deal of an infusion of height (and drama).
Rest easy Terp fandom because Coach Mark Turgeon had one unopened present under the Terps Christmas tree. Chol Marial unwrapped himself from his warm up hoodie and at 12:16pm at the 13:07 mark of their first half against Bryant he stepped on to the Gary Williams Court.
The Terp faithful who for nearly a year anticipated this 7’2″ center welcomed him as he took his place on defense in the center lane. He extended his arms defensively from the left lane block opposite to the right block in front of the basket.
There have been near 7-footers to visit College Park since the late 1960’s. Think Chris Wilcox, Len Elmore, Tom McMillian and Joe Smith to name a few. Marial’s story will be one that is measured more against them then what he does for this teams’ win-loss record. Will Coach Turgeon build around him or just add more pieces to an ever evolving roster of guards and small forwards. All too soon to say.
Chol Marial’s stats for the day were 6 points, 5 rebounds and 1 blocked shot. His present game and physical size reminds me of a young Tom McMillian and Joe Smith.
What is known for sure is that Maryland’s current bench depth took a big hit with the Mitchell’s departure. They have 18 B1G Ten league games remaining starting in January 2020. That will be 18 opportunities for Marial and his teammates to build on some hard knock experiences and regain it’s composure.
Terp fandom should not place undo expectations on Marial or his 2020 performances to come. Hopefully, his smiling demeanor and positive attitude will be what awakens this slow-to-start Terp team. It is this kind of stable attitude that is needed to prepare for the run up to the B1G Ten and NCAA tournaments in March.
Photos to follow
Images copyrighted 2019 © Phil Fabrizio | PhotoLoaf® for MCM