Maryland's season of hype and hope, the twin elixirs fueling fans of a talented team, is a week old.
Three games in November rarely define a season, barring a spate of injuries.
Three games in November generally are a poor sample size for sweeping statements.
Three games in November usually prompt reminders of the universal truth of teams looking far different months down the road than they do less than 10 percent of the way in their seasons.
So any evaluation of the Terrapins in the wake of Friday's harrowing 65-58 defeat of Rider is undoubtedly premature.
Well, except for one thing: Maryland might finish the season on a tier without peer. It isn't there now.
Not after spotting Georgetown a 9-0 lead on Tuesday. Not after falling behind by 14 points to a solid (but hardly imposing) Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference team.
This isn't a bad thing for the Terps (3-0). There is no guaranteed path to a Final Four, and the reality is having some issues exposed while winning is exponentially better than the other option. In a month, Maryland not taking a lead against the Broncs (0-3) for the first time until a Melo Trimble 3-pointer with 3:25 to play.
Mid-November basketball isn't usually the smoothest, and the Terps endured their share of defensive deficiencies for the better part of 24 minutes. They also had no answer for Rider's zone, and for all of coach Mark Turgeon's insistence his team can handle that defense, expect Maryland to see more of it in the coming week or two --- perhaps even as early as early as Tuesday in Cancun against Illinois State.
But that's hardly a permanent fate, just as freshman center Diamond Stone's struggles against Georgetown gave way to an efficient 12-point showing in 19 minutes against the Broncs. Likewise, Turgeon's insistence his team had not worked much with a lineup featuring Jake Layman at the four and Robert Carter Jr. as the lone big earlier in the week isn't true anymore; Maryland spent much of the second half going small.
The Terps ultimately emerged as too big, too deep and eventually too good on defense (while throwing out their own 1-3-1 scheme for a while in the second half) for Rider. All of those are enviable traits. None provide a guarantee.
The hype of a juggernaut, at least from the start of the season, is rightfully tempered in College Park. That's not a bad thing. The hope of a memorable season rightfully remains.
Still, getting a proper read on the Terps is going to take some time. It's good for them, then, that plenty of it remains to truly sort things out.
A few other tidbits from Friday ...
* Maryland used a nine-man rotation in the first half. Aside from a cameo from Varun Ram, it rotated seven after the break. Neither center Michal Cekovsky (making his second career start) nor reserve point guard Jaylen Brantley played in the second half.
* Trimble has missed eight free throws (out of 26) in three games. Last year, he missed 33 (out of 240) over 35 games.
* Jake Layman (11 points, 11 rebounds) had the fifth double-double of his career. The previous four came last season (against Oklahoma State, Oakland, Rutgers and Michigan State).