Following the disappointing loss at Boston College earlier in the week, the Terrapins return to the University of Maryland to host Clemson Saturday.
Here are some brief thoughts on several different Terps related topics:
Topic 1) What are the ramifications of the loss to Boston College?
The euphoria of last Saturday’s win against Duke ended abruptly when Maryland failed to win against the Eagles Tuesday night. With the loss, the Terps are now 18-8 overall, and 6-7 in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Maryland is 69th in RPI, their Strength of Schedule is 95th, and their Ken Pom Ranking is 60th.
There are 5 games left in the Terps regular season schedule:
2/23 vs. Clemson 140th RPI
2/27 @ Georgia Tech 136th RPI
3/2 @ Wake Forest 160th RPI
3/6 North Carolina 27th RPI
3/10 @ Virginia 76th RPI
The biggest issue of losing to Boston College, is that it gives Maryland their first ‘bad loss’ of the year. I went into that game believing the Terps needed to go 4-2 over their last 6 games, and possibly win 1 in the ACC Tournament to get their dance card punched. Losing to BC was a big blow to that, but not necessarily a ‘death blow.’ There would be no practical difference to their resume, going 4-0 vs. @BC, Clemson, @Georgia Tech, @Wake Forest, and 0-2 vs. UNC, and @UVA…. or going 3-1@BC, Clemson, @Georgia Tech, @Wake Forest, and 1-1 vs. UNC, and @UVA.
They now have 1 bad loss, but the difference would be another good win. I think that evens out.
Regardless, that really isn’t what matters. They lost to a bad a team they needed to beat. The fact that they couldn’t get this win, tells a lot. I don’t have a lot of confidence of going 4-1 in the next 5.
Topic 2) Outside of PG play, and the corresponding turnovers – what is the next biggest issue with this Maryland team?
There are 342 Division 1 Teams. Maryland is 340th overall in Turnover Margin. Clearly this is the Terps primary issue as a team. The lack of quality PG play impacts everything, perhaps most importantly setting-up the 1/2 court offense.
Everyone who follows MD is aware of this. What is next largest concern?
With an ‘honorable mention’ to Maryland’s lack of success at the charity stripe (the Terps are 256th overall in FT% at 66.5%, and don’t get to the line enough), for me the 2nd biggest issue Maryland deals with is their general lack of shooting ability.
That might surprise those who only look at MD in-passing, and see the Terps gaudy FG% (28th overall). The truth is though that FG% is basically solely the result of their ability to score inside (when the guards actually get the ball to the bigs). Maryland has one guard (Aronhalt) with real plus shooting ability, and two others (Layman, and Allen) who should develop into consistent plus scorers during their time in College Park.
Faust was a weapon at the end of last year, especially with the ball in his hands. He was getting to the rim at will. He scored in double-figures in 7 of his last 8 games to end last year, and I thought he was poised to make a significant jump in his production as a Sophomore. That has not happened.
Faust ’11-’12: FG% .374, .271 3P%, 62% FT%, 8.9 ppg, 27.7 minutes per game
Faust ’12-’13: FG% .367, .293 3P%, 70% FT%, 8.0 ppg, 24.3 minutes per game
After scoring in double-figures in 7 of the first 8 games of this year, Faust has scored in double-figures just 3 times in the last 18 games, and none in the last 7 games. Faust has continued to be a factor defensively, and it has to be mentioned that he has again been asked to distribute more; but Maryland would be improved overall if he was providing consistent scoring. Going into next year, I hope we see a jump in his game overall. More post-ups, more intermediate jumpers, and an ability to knock down 3′s at a much higher %.
It’s hard to complain too much about Wells’ scoring overall. He is 2nd on the team at 11.8 points per game, and he is shooting 53% from the floor. However, after making 38% of his 3′s last year for Xavier (on 1.7 attempts per game), he is shooting just 30% from outside for Maryland on 1.8 attempts per. He’s also shooting just 66% from the line. In Conference play he’s had games where he has scored 21, 19, and 18 points. He’s also had 3 games where he has scored 5 or less. Like with Faust, it does have to be mentioned that he has been asked to facilitate for his teammates, due to the PG issues.
Topic 3) Looking ahead…
Let’s think about the team next year, assuming Maryland loses Len to the draft. (Of course the Terps will also lose Aronhalt, and Padgett.)
Guards: Faust (Jr) Howard (Sr), Allen (Soph), Peters (Freshman)
Wings: Wells (Jr), Layman (Soph)
Bigs: Cleare (Soph), Mitchell (Soph), Smotrycz (Jr), Dodd (Freshman)
Smotrycz will be important to provide another spot-up shooter. Cleare and Mitchell should be fine as post scorers. It would be great if Dodd was capable of giving the minutes that Cleare and Mitchell are providing now.
I’m a big fan of both Allen and Layman. They are both going to continue to get a lot of time obviously. I do wonder how MD will play with both Layman and Smotrycz on the floor together. While they could spread teams out offensively, that seems like it could be a defensive issue.
Peters is probably a better option than anyone they currently have to run the offense, but he had season ending shoulder surgery in December, and is typically described as a combo guard. Asking him to come in as Freshman and be able to run the show completely is probably going to be too much to ask. I’ve heard he is really good in the open court, but has to improve in the 1/2 court.
Is there a JUCO PG, or Senior transfer like Aronhalt who could be added to help with running the offense?
Topic 4) Previewing Clemson
Clemson is 13-12 overall, 5-8 in the ACC.
In their last game they lost to Miami 45-43.
Out of conference they lost to Gonzaga by 8, Purdue by 12, Arizona by 12, and they beat South Carolina by 9.
They’ve lost 4 of 5, and in their last 4 games have not scored more than 57 points.
Their 3 leading scorers are:
Devin Booker – 6’8, 250lb Senior F/C. Averages 12.3 points, 8 boards.
K.J. McDaniels – 6’6, 200lb Soph F. Averages 10.9 points, 4.9 boards, 32.2% from 3 (3.6 attempts per).
Milton Jennings – 6’9, 225lb Senior F, Averages 9.9 points, 6.3 boards, 36.2% from 3 (4.1 attempts per).
Orange & White.com: Tigers look for turnaround from excruciating losses
291st points per game (62ppg)
193rd rebounds per game (34.4)
305th assists per game (10.7)
215th field goal % (.425)
21st scoring defense (58.1ppg)
96th turnover margin (1.5)