Welcome to The Diamondback Sports Digest. Every week, we send you a rundown of the latest Maryland athletics news.

Maryland men’s basketball landed Derik Queen last week and potentially reshaped the program’s short and long-term outlook. Coach Kevin Willard needed a recruiting win during a season that’s seen few on-court victories. He got it with the 6-foot-10 prospect from Baltimore.

In this week’s newsletter, we’ll examine how Queen fits in with the Terps, Maryland baseball’s hot start to the year and a revealing loss for Maryland women’s basketball.

Kevin Willard claps along the sideline during Maryland men’s basketball 64-57 win over Michigan on Jan. 11, 2024. (Autumn Hengen/The Diamondback)

The Queen Gambit

After a recruiting saga that lasted more than four years and two coaching staffs, Maryland finally got Derik Queen. He chose the Terps over Indiana, Kansas and Houston and is the Terps’ second-best recruit since 2000, according to 247Sports. 

Men’s basketball reporter Nicky Wolcott dug into Queen’s extensive skillset, his pairing with Terps forward Julian Reese and what Maryland still needs to do to improve its roster. Here’s a sneak peak: the Terps need to shoot better.

The Terps’ on-court product remains less fun. Maryland fell 74-70 to Wisconsin Tuesday, which dropped the Terps to 1-9 in games decided by five points or less. They thrashed Rutgers on Sunday, but as Nicky wrote, the Terps’ struggles in close games almost certainly doomed their NCAA tournament dreams.

At least this season is mercifully close to ending and Terps fans can start dreaming of their Queen.

Maryland baseball assistant coaches Johnny Poss and Jimmy Jackson pose for a photo after practice at Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium on Feb. 21, 2024. (Sam Cohen/The Diamondback)

Maryland baseball continues strong start

Maryland first-year head coach Matt Swope knew the importance of assembling a strong staff. It’s why he hired Johnny Poss and Jimmy Jackson to be his recruiting coordinator and pitching coach, respectively.

The trio have known each other since their 20s and remained close as their baseball journeys took them apart. Jackson worked with future MLB draft picks with various Division I teams, while Poss coached high schools and took over a Division III program in its first year of existence. 

Now, their paths have met again in College Park. Baseball reporter Michael Howes spoke to Poss, Jackson and Swope to see what the two assistants bring to the program

The Terps are 5-2 and have won both of their weekend series this season. They breezed past Mount St. Mary’s in their home opener Tuesday and took down Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Saturday. Their lone misstep came on Sunday against Washington. 

Maryland’s pitching staff — which has been a strength so far — gave up three home runs, including a three-run shot in the eighth inning. The Terps were up by two but instead lost, 6-5, missing out on a sweep.

Brenda Frese looks onto the court during Maryland women’s basketball’s 78-55 win over James Madison on Dec. 20, 2023. (Autumn Hengen/The Diamondback)

Maryland women’s basketball loses Briggs, falls to No. 2 Ohio State

Maryland women’s basketball was primed to pull off an upset of No. 2 Ohio State on Sunday. The Terps were down five entering the fourth quarter but ultimately lost by 13. Women’s basketball reporter Olivia Janik recapped what went wrong.

The loss extends a troubling trend for the Terps, who seem to stay close but fall short against the Big Ten and nation’s best. To women’s basketball reporter Sam Jane, the Buckeyes loss shows how much Maryland has grown but also reminds everyone how far it is from contention.

The Terps also lost guard Lavender Briggs to a season-ending knee injury, sapping their depth for the rest of the regular season and beyond.

Sam also spoke with Faith Masonius about her desire to coach after her playing career ends. Masonius’ teammates think the veteran Terp would be perfect for the job.

Best bits

Game of the week

Both Maryland women’s and men’s lacrosse have marquee weekend matchups. Coach Cathy Reese’s squad travels to Denver on Saturday for a 1 p.m. battle. A day later, John Tillman’s team takes on Notre Dame in South Bend at noon.

Stat of the week

Per 247Sports, Queen is Maryland men’s basketball’s third-ever five-star recruit, joining Diamond Stone and Jalen Smith.