Hours before Maryland’s upset of Duke last Saturday, Evan Smotrycz stood on the Comcast Center court and scanned the emptiness. He saw thousands of newspapers, neatly folded for their traditional use during pregame introductions. He saw all the T-shirts draped over the student section’s plastic chairs. And for the first time since transferring to Maryland this offseason, Smotrycz grew a little sad.
Sitting out this season per NCAA rules, Smotrycz parked himself into an undersize chair on a recent afternoon and reflected on a season of growth, even though he hasn’t touched the floor during a game.
Instead, he spends games behind the Maryland bench, typically in some suave sweater or button-down, watching and wishing and thinking about when his time will finally come.
Keeping focused this season has been easy for Smotrycz, through all the weightlifting and scout-team meetings and game nights spent in street clothes. But something about the atmosphere against Duke tugged at Smotrycz’s heart. During his two seasons at Michigan, the 6-foot-9 forward twice lost to Duke by a combined nine points. So after working out with fellow transfer Varun Ram that afternoon, Smotrycz wandered into the balcony and snapped a picture as he overlooked the calm before the storm. If nothing else, the bittersweet moment reinforced Smotrycz’s decision to leave a burgeoning power and join Coach Mark Turgeon’s program. He has no regrets.