We didn’t think we’d be here seven games into the season.  

Not only did the Terps lay an egg in their November tournament by losing both their games to seemingly inferior opponents, they also followed that up with a 17-point blowout loss at Villanova less than a week later.  

So while it’s hard to say a game is a must-win this early into a season, Maryland’s Big Ten opener on Dec. 1 against Indiana certainly has a heightened level of importance as a game that can either turn the tide for the Terps or keep them reeling. 

Now, it’s not all doom and gloom in College Park ahead of Friday night’s matchup. The Terps did respond from their early season skid with a three-game winning streak at home against UMBC, South Alabama, and Rider — not exactly a gauntlet of opponents, but wins nonetheless. 

A few thoughts and questions following Maryland’s most recent win over Rider:  

1. Is the three-point shooting is starting to round into form?

In the 27-point win against the Broncs, Maryland made a season-high eight threes. Making it even more impressive is that the Terps weren’t just jacking up long shots all game. They were measured in their approach and only attempted 20 shots from deep to give them their highest shooting percentage from behind the arc this season. 

One of the main contributors in this area in the win over Rider was freshman wing Jamie Kaiser, who came off the bench to hit two big threes in the first half. He finished 2-for-3 shooting on the night after entering the game shooting just 13 percent from three. Maryland fans are hopeful that can spark some confidence in the young wing and he can keep the momentum going as we enter league play. 

Jahmir Young was also deadly from three against Rider, making 4-of-7 from behind the arc. Sophomore Noah Batchelor was the only other Terp to make a three, hitting 2-of-4.  

2. Jordan Geronimo seems like a mainstay in the starting lineup, and it’s working 

That’s three straight starts and three straight Maryland wins for Jordan Geronimo, the transfer from Indiana. Against Rider, Geronimo netted 15 points after scoring 14 against South Alabama the game prior. He’s a slasher, a great defender, and the true glue guy this lineup needs. 

The redshirt junior will undoubtedly be fired up to face his former team in the Big Ten opener. If he can use the added motivation to spark another strong performance, it could go a long way in helping Maryland pull off a fourth consecutive victory.  

3. The Terps can get to the line, but they have to make them 

It’s very concerning seeing Maryland’s team free throw percentage sit at 67.9 percent through seven games. That is not a number that winning teams have from the line. Against Rider, Maryland did an excellent job getting to the line for 45 free throw attempts. The problem was they only his 29 of them. That’s not going to cut it in Big Ten play and the Terps will see a lot of close games slip away if they can’t fix this problem fast. 

Julian Reese is perhaps the biggest culprit at 66.1 percent from the line while playing 29 minutes per game. He has not put in the work to improve his dismal free throw shooting from last season, and that is becoming abundantly clear. Opposing teams know they can just hack him and send him to the line to limit his production. Geronimo (65.2 percent) and DeShawn Harris-Smith (48.4 percent — woof!) are also heavily to blame for the poor free throw shooting. 

As a slasher who is limited with his shooting, Geronimo has to improve here and can become an even bigger asset for the Terps if he can hit more freebies. Harris-Smith is perplexing as he hasn’t shown touch on his shot from the line or anywhere on the court to start his college career. However, unlike Reese, who used to be a better free throw shooter as a freshman before the decline and has had multiple years to get this right, Harris-Smith might still be transitioning to the college game and could just need some more time to find his footing. The Terps are certainly hoping that’s the case and that he’ll see some shots fall soon to get his confidence back. 

A quick look at Indiana… 

Head coach Mike Woodson has his Hoosiers team looking decent to start the season but, from a talent standpoint, this Indiana squad is far from special. 

In their one game against a legit opponent, the Hoosiers got boat raced by UConn — nothing to be ashamed of, but shows where they stand in comparison to elite teams. That’s their only loss, but their five wins have come against teams ranked 120 or lower by KenPom.  

While Indiana’s locker room is likely led by its senior starting backcourt made up of Xavier Johnson and Trey Galloway, the production on the court has mostly been led by the sophomore frontcourt of Malik Reneau and Kel’el Ware.  

Ware and Reneau lead the Hoosiers averaging 17.7 and 15.3 points, respectively, and both know how to crash the boards and play strong defense. And, perhaps even more impressively considering how hard the Terps make it look, they both shoot 70 percent or better from the free-throw line.  

Reese and Donta Scott have to play superbly on both ends of the floor to give the Terps an edge in this matchup. Likewise, Maryland’s guards have to do everything they can to make it hard on Indiana’s experienced ball-handlers to get the ball inside. Perhaps this is a game where Maryland deploys more press defense to prevent Indiana from getting into its halfcourt sets where the Hoosiers can run plays for their bigs and get their pick-and-roll going.  

Should be a close one on Friday night with the betting line currently having Indiana as a 3-point favorite. The game is in Bloomington, Indiana, and will tip off at 7 p.m. EST. The game will be televised on the Big Ten Network. 

Pat Donohue
Pat Donohue

Terps Analyst

Pat has been covering sports in the DMV area since 2012. He is a former Washington Redskins beat reporter for PressBoxDC.com and has been covering University of Maryland football and basketball recruiting and daily beats for Rivals.com’s Terrapin Sports Report since 2013. Pat graduated from College Park with his master’s degree in journalism and has received bylines in publications such as USA TODAY Sports, The Philadelphia Inquirer, SB Nation, and Yahoo! Sports. A Philadelphia native, Pat enjoys fishing, golfing, and playing fantasy sports when he’s not covering or watching a game.