Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Dick Vitale releases his preseason top 40, has the Terps at No. 2!

Vitale has Maryland at No. 2, followed by John Calipari's Kentucky Wildcats at No. 3. He has Duke and Virginia at Nos. 4-5, respectively, giving the ACC three of the top five spots in his rankings.
Below is Vitale's preseason top 25.

Dick Vitale's preseason top 25 college basketball teams

1. North Carolina 
2. Maryland 
3. Kentucky 
4. Duke 
5. Virginia 
6. Kansas 
7. Iowa State 
8. Villanova 
9. Oklahoma 
10. Gonzaga 
11. Wichita State 
12. California 
13. Indiana 
14. Utah 
15. Connecticut 
16. Arizona 
17. Michigan State 
18. Vanderbilt 
19. LSU 
20. Butler 
21. Miami 
22. Texas A&M 
23. Notre Dame 
24. Michigan 
25. Louisville

You can click here to see his comments for each team and see which teams he listed Nos. 26-40.

Head Coach Mark Turgeon

On this season:

“We’re extremely excited about this year. I really like the team we’ve put together. I really like my guys. I like working with my guys. They’re a very competitive group. Whenever we put the score up and the time, they really get after it. As a coach, you feel good about that. Really since all of the expectations started coming in April, our guys have worked really hard. We had a great spring. We had a great summer. We’ve had a great fall. The first 12 days of practice have been really good for us. We’re excited and we’re looking forward to it.”

On the team’s depth and setting a rotation:

“What a great position I’m in. I made the comment that I think we have eight starters. A couple of starters aren’t playing well, different guys are going to play that night. We’ll find out who’s playing the best and we’ll play them. I don’t know yet since we haven’t played a game. We’re just beating up on each other. I’ll know more in a couple weeks. Usually the best teams have quality depth and we have that, which makes practice better and makes us better every day.”

On how Diamond Stone has progressed so far:

“Freshmen bigs have the farthest to come of all players. The last two days, he’s had great practices – his two best that he’s had. We’re really proud of him. There’s a lot of things that he has to do better and he knows that. He’s got a great feel for the game, a good understanding of the game. It’s always been easy for him, so not it’s hard every day and each day gets a little easier at sustaining playing a high level. He’s been great. Yesterday was as good as he’s been.”

On being a target for opponents this year:

“What people need to understand is when we played Michigan State in the first Big Ten game, we were ranked 12th in the country. It wasn’t like we were sneaking up on anybody last year when the league started. We might have snuck up on Iowa State in Kansas City, but we didn’t sneak up on anybody in the league. All of those experiences that we went through last year with being a big game for our opponent, really helped us. I think we really grew. We were not only successful, but we grew. I thought we handled the ‘bullseye on your back’ type thing pretty well last year. It’ll be a different level this year, but I think we’re more equipped to handle it. We expect to do some really good things, and I think our attitude last year really helped us.”

On Melo Trimble in his sophomore year:

“He’s going to have another great year for us. He’s a great player. What we’re working on is trying to become a better defender – on-ball defender and team defender. He has it in him. I didn’t ask him to do a lot of that last year because he just couldn’t foul. Defensively, he’s got to get better. I think becoming a better point guard, a better leader, a little more vocal. I think his assists will go up this year. It’s a work in progress. We expect him to do all the great things he did for us last year, but probably just be a little bit more well-rounded as a player.”

Senior Forward Jake Layman

On the expectations of this year’s team:

"Expectations don't really mean much. To be a winning team, you have to take it one game at a time. The ultimate goal is to win one game at a time. If this team can take that mindset and just focus on each practice like it's our last, I think we'll be successful." 

On sharing the ball:

"If everyone has that one common goal of winning the game each night I don't think sharing the ball will be a problem for us."

Freshman Center Diamond Stone

On his teammates:

"I feel like we all have the same goals. It's to win, that's all we're focused on. As a freshman it was a struggle at first. I came from Milwaukee, 12-13 hours away. All my friends are there, coming to Maryland I had to make new friends. I'm thankful for them giving me respect every day.”

On the transition from high school to college:

"The competition level. Each and every day I have to play 100 percent in practice. It's different than playing in high school. Maryland is the Big Ten. I see and hear that Big Ten is physical and a grind. I'm getting ready with Coach Kyle Tarp in the weight room and practicing hard. So I feel like I’ll be ready."

On how the other big men on the team help him:

"They help me a lot. Ceko blocks my shot, and I never get my shot blocked. Here I'm getting my shots blocked left and right. We're all getting better. Damonte (Dodd) is pushing me and I'm pushing him, Ceko is pushing me and I'm pushing him, we're just getting better."

Sophomore Guard Jared Nickens

On creating matchup problems:

"We have a whole bunch of weapons, we have a lot of talent. We are all here because we all have that same goal in mind. We just try to focus on not caring who gets the credit, and I think that will take us a long way. As long as we keep that mindset, we'll be the best team we can be."

On his relationship with Dion Wiley and Melo Trimble:

"It's grown. We're with each other every day. We've gotten smarter. We can help each other more than we did last year because last year we didn’t know much before the season. This year we know what to expect, what's about to happen. We can guide each other along and teach each other different things."

Senior Guard Rasheed Sulaimon

On the transition from Duke to Maryland:

"Everything that I learned from Duke caused me to grasp this very quickly. Coach challenged me, made me learn a couple of positions offensively and defensively. I've been working harder, trying to meet every one of Coach’s challenges for me. I think he's making me a better player and a better person."

On being put into a leadership role:

"What I've been trying to do is to bring my experiences from Duke. I've been to the Elite Eight, I've been to the NCAA Tournament three times in a row. These guys have been like sponges. I haven't even been that overbearing, they're even coming to me. I've never really been in the leadership role so it's new for me. The thing that I try to tell them is just hard work. With a lot of building and expectations the thing you can do to protect yourself is really to not listen to it and work hard. Since I've been here these guys have worked tremendously hard. We have a great coaching staff, great strength and conditioning staff. Everybody believes in ourselves. If we continue to work hard and believe in the process as coach always says, we'll be successful."

Sophomore Center Michal Cekovsky

On having a lot of big men:

"It's a great opportunity every day at practice to get better. Because I'm playing against the best centers in the country. It's very challenging and we're all excited."

On Diamond Stone:

"He's a strong guy like Damonte (Dodd) and Robert (Carter Jr.). It's a great opportunity to work hard in practice every day and get better. He's probably one of the best centers in the country." 

Junior Forward Damonte Dodd

On where his love for defense came from:

“It came out of high school, when I was just blocking a lot of shots. It was a lot of fun, because while I was scoring a lot, we didn’t really have a lot of stoppers on defense, so I took that role upon myself. You just have to know where to fit in. We had a lot of scorers, and we have a lot of scorers this year. When my opportunity comes to score, I’ll score, but I want people to know me for my defense.”

Sophomore Guard Dion Wiley

On his biggest change from the offseason:

“My biggest change is definitely my body. I changed my body a lot by losing weight. I also learned how to play the game better by learning Coach Turgeon’s system and becoming more comfortable within it.”

Sophomore Guard Melo Trimble

On his offseason improvements:

“I worked at every aspect of my game. This past summer, I started focusing on defense more, by just watching film, gaining more confidence and learning from my past experiences.”

On the team’s expectations:

“There aren’t really expectations on us. We expect to just come together as a team and get better in practice every day, and to trust the process, and to trust Coach Turgeon.”

On the additions of Robert Carter, Rasheed Sulaimon and Diamond Stone:

“They bring a lot more talent to this team than last year. As far as defense, Rasheed is a great defender as well as Robert, and Diamond is improving every day. All of them are great additions to the offensive end as well.”

Junior Forward Robert Carter

On how sitting out a year helped him improve:

“I think last year was a major jump for me, especially in terms of learning about the game. I’m a basketball fanatic, so not being able to play just helped me dive in to the ins and outs of basketball. Also, I changed my body.”

On defensive rebounding

“I think that defensive rebounding is just effort. We have a lot of big guys who compete, so I think that if we compete every day in practice, we’ll be successful in the game.“

Sophomore Guard Jaylen Brantley

On his recruitment process

“At the beginning of my junior season, Coach [Dustin] Clark came out to see me play, and then Coach [Mark] Turgeon came out to see me play, and gave me a scholarship. I felt that this was a great opportunity for my family and me, so I decided to come here.”