The Maryland Terrapins basketball team had a relatively easy go of things against Morehead State Monday night in their home opener, taking down the Eagles 67-47. Any concerns about a hangover after losing to Kentucky were out the door, as the Terrapins blew the doors off this one early and never looked back, flexing a little muscle and showing teams that they are legitimate threats on the national level. I could presumably say the Terrapins were led by Alex Len, who had 12 points and 7 rebounds along with three blocks, but it was a team effort that put the Eagles away for good.
Player(s) of the Game
Alex Len and Shaquille Cleare, and Charles Mitchell
The front line continued to impress against the Eagles with a balanced attack from Len, Cleare, and Mitchell, who seem to compliment one another incredibly well. Alex Len has no problem doing the scoring, where he was 3-of-5 from the field and 5-of-6 from the free throw line (his form is fantastic), and he can do that from just about anywhere on the court. His versatility helps because Shaquille Cleare is a strictly down low guy who did his damage from the free throw line by drawing lots of fouls in the post (he finished 6-of-8 on free throws). But their defensive abilities were what made the difference, as they both blocked three shots apiece, forcing an Eagles team that cannot shoot to, well, shoot.
So where does Mitchell fit in? Well, he is one of the best rebounders I have ever seen play at Maryland (he finished with 9 rebounds, giving him 19 on the year). Mitchell grabs his rebounds with some great positioning and playing the angles well, sure, but it is also clear that he just wants them more than any player on the court. At one point during the game, Mitchell literally ripped the ball out of Shaquille Cleare’s hands because he just wants them so badly. That’s a good thing to have on this team, and allows Len to move up the court quicker and get out in transition, as well as spotting Cleare who can handle the scoring load when they’re both on the floor.
Hats off to the front court.
Goat of the Game
Morehead State’s Shooting
Morehead State honestly tried really hard, but with the on the ball defense Maryland was playing, there just isn’t much you can do offensively. The Terrapins held the Eagles to 19-of-60 shooting on the game, and it’s practically impossible to win when you shoot like that. Milton Chavis was their lone double digits scorer with 10 points, but only one person on their team shot 50%. They simply couldn’t get anything going and fell behind very quickly. Shooting 1-of-14 from deep can do that.
Furthermore, the Eagles were dominated in both the rebounding and assists column. Maryland’s 37 rebounds trounced their 25, and the Terrapins 14 assists easily lapped their 4. The Eagles ran a lot of isolation, but that didn’t result in much given the help defense the Terrapins were playing. Being outrebounded on the boards (in spite of grabbing 11 offensive rebounds) hurt a lot, and them lacking a 7 footer to compete with Len showed down low, where they could establish nothing.
What’s up next
The Terrapins stay home to go up against the Long Island Blackbirds, a team that lost to the Lafayette Leopards in their first game, 98-94. From that you can assume that their defense isn’t stellar, which means Maryland may have a pretty easy victory next game, which goes along with my colleague’s prediction that they won’t lose again until January.