Well amidst all of the Tebowmania yesterday, there was a still a Maryland basketball game that was played, so a quick review of what went right and what went wrong yesterday at the RBC Center.
- I think the biggest issue that I had from a game plan standpoint was the inability to get Alex Len involved for the majority of the second half. Nick Faust and Pe’Shon Howard struggled mightily from the field, as did Sean Mosley until about halfway through the period. Len still did end up with a double-double (12 points, 11 rebounds), but he’s the best second option for this team going forward, especially if he’s capable of knocking down the 15 foot jumper he did in this game. I think Len’s lack of involvement was partially due to the gameplan, and partially because he was very passive in the second half (he looked tired, especially trying to get back on defense), but both of those issues need to be fixed if Maryland wants to seriously compete.
- Pe’Shon Howard is turning the corner returning from his injury, and the first half of this game was a great showcase for it. He looked exactly like the passing point guard this team lacked in his absence, routinely finding open shooters all over the court, and finishing with 8 assists. The shooting (1/8 from the floor) will come around eventually, but the most important facet of his game appears to be almost completely back to normal.
- Terrell Stoglin played great yesterday, something he’ll need to continue to do in order to keep the Terps in any game this season. It’s very impressive that he’s able to answer the bell game after game as just a sophomore, and I think he’ll be able to keep doing it because of how versatile he’s become. Since last season, his 3 point shooting percentage has risen 7% from 36 % to 43%. Now that every team has to respect his shot out to 20-25 feet, or he’ll bury them with deep balls all night. That range combined with his already blazing quickness really gives him a complete offensive toolset in a very small but dominant package.
- Two of the lower classmen are going in two different directions. Mychal Parker has quietly transformed himself from a live pulse to an actual competent, skilled basketball player. I don’t think he’ll get a ton of minutes this year with Mosley doing almost everything he does at the 3 but better, but there’s no denying his improvement. An efficient 9 points on 3-3 shooting, including a three, two made free throws, and an eye opening 3 steals. If you've watched highlight videos of him, Parker's athleticism jumps off the screen. Even with limited offensive tools, he has the potential to be a beast on defense, which is extremely valuable. Parker got his fewest minutes of the season yesterday (12), but if Turgeon watched what I did, that number will stay the lowest for the rest of the year.
- On the other hand, Nick Faust has looked bad plenty more times than he’s looked good this year, and yesterday was no exception. Another bad shooting day compounded with precious little else in his box score row (a board and a dime). I don’t know how Faust actually makes his shot, he looks off balance on his release even when he’s wide open. I know Faust is just a freshman, and the adjustment to college ball is a difficult one to make, but it should definitely start becoming more of an even platoon between he and Parker off the bench.
- Unsurprisingly, what lost this game was another subpar performance at the line (13/21), and some very untimely turnovers. Pe’Shon making a sloppy pass when the lead was at 6, Faust bulling into a charge after UMD had cut it to 4. The rebounding battle was sufficiently close (largely thanks to James Padgett working his ass of underneath to rip a few boards away from a bigger NC State front line. Nobody besides he and Len had more than 3 rebounds).
- Just more of the youth of this team showing than you would have liked in what really was a difficult road game against an NCAA tournament caliber team. Leslie was an athletic marvel, and Lorenzo Brown is going to push Kendall Marshall for the title of best PG in the conference with more games like yesterday (11 points, 7 rebounds, 9 assists, 1 turnover). Not to mention their offensive communism was in full force yesterday (6 players with 7 points or more). This was a close game throughout, and if a few more free throws bounced in, or if a few more passes found their marks, I’d be writing about the first of a few road upsets this Terps team will pull this season.