Greg Kampe knows a bit about assessing power conference programs. Nevermind that he's spent the last 31 years as the head coach at Oakland, a Detroit in suburban Detroit.
Kampe is the architect of one of the great scheduling philosophies in Division I. The Grizzlies routinely play as many high-level teams as possible, constructing a brutally difficult road schedule that simultaneously pays plenty of bills and routinely places Oakland in the top 50 (and often higher) in nonconference schedule strength.
The Grizzlies, who have faced 27 ranked teams over the last 10 seasons, already met Iowa State, Arizona, Michigan State and Pittsburgh this year. So Kampe's opinion is worth pondering in the wake of Maryland's 72-56 defeat of Oakland on Saturday.
How, then, do the 12-1 Terrapins stack up?
"We think they're really good," Kampe said. "We think they're different than Arizona. They're different than Michigan State. They don't have the physicality that those teams have. But they have finesse and [Jake Layman] can score in multiple ways. [Dez] Wells can score in multiple ways. And they have players who can make plays."
And now, Maryland has more of them than at any point all season.
Saturday marked the first time both Wells and Evan Smotrycz played in the same game since March. Smotrycz missed the first five games this season with a broken foot, then three more with a sprained ankle. Wells, who scored all 10 of his points in the second half, had sat out seven games with a broken wrist before coming off the bench Saturday.
It's debatable Maryland was at full strength against Oakland, especially with Wells acknowledging he wasn't particularly aggressive in the game's early stages. He also didn't need to be, considering Maryland built a a 37-19 halftime lead.
That advantage was built on stingy defense and a few timely 3-pointers, major elements of the same formula that allowed the Terps to survive a month without their best returning player in the lineup. Yet it was also constructed with a different rotation, the closest approximation Maryland's offered yet on how its minutes will be allocated in the coming months.
"It was weird looking down the bench and not seeing anybody hurt," Layman said. "It's great. We have so much firepower on our bench. It's just really exciting to see how good we are and how good we're going to be moving forward.
Clearly, Layman, Wells and Melo Trimble are the centerpieces of this team. How the minutes at shooting guard (and at backup point guard) are divvied up between Jared Nickens, Richaud Pack and Dion Wiley remains to be seen.
Precisely how much Smotrycz ultimately plays, and how willing coach Mark Turgeon is to go with a smaller lineup remains to be seen. Bigs Michal Cekovsky, Damonte Dodd and Jon Graham combined for 41 minutes against Oakland.
"I think today was a peek behind the curtain, but we have a lot more in store," Wells said.
Just how much will be learned soon enough. A trip to Michigan State on Tuesday commences Big Ten play, and Kampe --- and who saw the Spartans, and a few other high-profile programs, already this season --- offered an endorsement of Maryland's potential.
"I think they're different than those teams, but they're a good different," Kampe said. "I think they can make a run for the Big Ten championship. I'm not saying they can win it. I wouldn't do that to Mark. But I think they can make a run for it."
--- Patrick Stevens