Terps lose to #18 UConn; What did we see?

The University of Maryland Terrapins started their 2013-14 season, with a 78-77 loss to the #18 University of Connecticut Huskies tonight in Brooklyn.

Down 17 points (67-50) with 11:43 left in the game, MD went on a 27-11 run to make it a 1 point game with 30 seconds remaining. In-bounding with 6 seconds left, Wells could not hit the potential game-winner.

(You can discuss this on the BSL Board here.)

What did we see?

Maryland had a horrible turnover margin last year, and entered tonight without their starting PG Seth Allen. We saw that asking Dez Wells to run the offense in a 1/2 court setting, is going to be a difficult proposition against like competition.

1a) Wells also had a number of lazy lapses in the full-court, leading to easy UConn baskets. Looking to find the balance between being a facilitator and looking for his own shot; Wells first FG attempt did not not come until 7:40 left in the half. He had a nice basket off the glass to make it 54-44. He made it 73-64 UConn, with a hard attack of the rim. Beautiful basket with under a minute left, coming out of the MD timeout to make it a 1 point game. Looking for the lead, Wells attacked and missed with 11 seconds left. There were teammates open. In-bounding with 6 seconds left, Wells missed the potential game winner. Wells had 6 turnovers.

1b) Asking any Freshman to run the offense is a tall order, but Peters is going to have to play effectively starting minutes at the 1, even if he is not the listed starter. He had a couple of turnovers tonight, but MD’s offense looked much better with the ball in his hands. Two beautiful drives and dishes from Peters to Mitchell in the 2nd half.

2) With not even 10 minutes gone by, Faust was getting time at the 1. It was an interesting first-half for Faust, with him taking four 3 point attempts in the first 10 minutes. After that fourth 3 point attempt, we noted in the game thread that he’s 6’5, and has added bulk – he needs to also work inside. On queue he did attempt to inside a couple of times. I don’t mind him shooting occasionally – within the framework of the offense – but the ball needs to move. Some times it dies when it gets in his hands. Also troubling in those first 20 minutes was that after a couple of made baskets, he got beat back down the floor. The Faust I was looking to see tonight was the defensive specialist that Coach Turgeon says he needs to be for MD. With Layman and Smotrycz on the court with him, the spacing was better. He did have a number of opportunities to find angles to the basket. He buried a huge 3 with just over 2 minutes left to make it a 2 point game. Before this game, I did not anticipate looking at the box-score and seeing this level of FG attempts from Faust.

3) Smotrycz was the offensive player he has been advertised as. A guy that can stretch the floor. He had MD’s first basket of the year with a short jumper. With MD down 15-5, he knocked down back-to-back 3′s. Defensively, it looked like he was being attacked by Connecticut. He does hustle, and scrap though. 3 to make it 56-47. Nice look inside to Faust to make it a 5 point game with 3:15 left. That pass came after Smotrycz did a good job running down his own miss.

4) Layman buried a 3 to make it 8-5 UConn. Layman had just 4 FG attempts in a quiet 1st half for the Sophomore. MD’s offense can not be effective without Layman being a factor. Down 67-50 after a UConn technical, Layman keyed an 11-0 MD run to get the Terps back into the game.

5) Coach Turgeon used a multitude of different defensive looks in the 1st half, including a lot of zone. Like last year, there was not much pressing or trapping until later in the 2nd half. Maryland had outstanding FG% defense last year, with Len waiting to clean things up at the rim (and the Terps being a very strong rebounding team overall). I think with this MD team, we should see a larger attempt at defensive pressure, attempting to generate offense from defense.

6) Maryland’s bench provided minimal production in the 1st half. Ram saw time, Dodd did not.

7) Entering after the 16 minute TV time out, Mitchell had 2 quick turnovers.  Later in the 1st half, Mitchell tipped in a Faust miss. A basket gained by running the court hard. He followed a Wells miss to make it 50-42 Huskies. Two nice finishes off looks from Peters. With 6 minutes left in the 2nd half, he was charged with offensive basket interference. The following trip down the floor, he scored while being fouled. Nice spin move inside. Missed the FT though, a missed opportunity for MD to set their defense. 4 turnovers is too much, even if he is a better offensive player vs. Cleare.

8) MD was down 10 points 6 minutes into the game, and 12 at the half. With 12 minutes left, the Terps were down 17. Despite winning the 2nd half, MD was never able to get completely over the early deficit.

9) Often we saw UConn pressing their offensive tempo after made MD baskets. MD was not getting back as quickly as needed.

10) Cleare followed a blocked Faust shot for his first points. Physically Cleare looks great. He is never going to get off the floor, but he runs the court hard. You can tell he worked hard in the off-season. He has to be more of a presence when on the floor though. Mitchell is far ahead of him as an offensive player, including on the glass.

11) Maryland’s Out-of-Conference schedule is improved over last year, but is not great. This was an opportunity for a significant scalp on a neutral floor. MD showed they could play with a good team, but you have to be disappointed by not finding a way to get the W.

12) Part of the way MD got back into the game, was by getting more active on the boards.

13) The Terps did a good job of getting to the line, and limiting the FT attempts from UConn.

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About the author

Chris Stoner   

Chris Stoner founded Baltimore Sports and Life in 2009. He has appeared as a radio guest with 1090 WBAL, 105.7 The Fan, CBS 1300, Q1370, WOYK 1350, WKAV 1400, and WNST 1570. He has also been interviewed by The Baltimore Sun, Baltimore Business Journal, and PressBox (TV). As Owner, his responsibilities include serving as the Managing Editor, Publicist, & Sales Director. You can reach him via email at Chris.Stoner@baltimoresportsandlife.com.

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