To get started with the weekend, let’s just go ahead and say it: yesterday’s gritty win at Virginia Tech was really big. It was not so much about the scoring margin, or the style of play, but the win itself marked a number of significant events. Let’s just go down the list of them.
- The win marks only the second time in Mark Turgeon’s career as head coach at Maryland that the Terrapins have won consecutive ACC games.
This one is pretty big. The Terrapins were winning games left and right to start the season, leading to the unrealistic expectation that the winning would be rampant during ACC play. In actuality, Maryland was playing cream puffs during out of conference play and faced unanticipated struggles when the ACC came. Winning two games in a row for only the second time in Turgeon’s career at Maryland (and at a time when getting into the Big Dance is in question), means that Maryland is doing something right.
- It was Maryland’s second ACC road win in two years.
Performance on the road is an incredibly important factor, and during Turge’s tenure at Maryland, road wins have been scant at best. The fact that Maryland finally got one against Tech, and very nearly won on the road at Florida State, might signal that the tides are changing. Their next road game is at Boston College on the 19th, but it doesn’t look as daunting as before knowing that Maryland can at least beat inferior opponents on the road.
- Maryland has now beaten Virginia Tech three straight times dating back to last season.
At least the Terrapins can say they are Hokie Killers. I know this Virginia Tech team is down and out, but Maryland definitely has the Hokies number. That is great for the confidence of a team; knowing that on the road or at home, you can still dominate a team helps gauge where a team is at. In this case, they’re definitively better than the bottom half of the ACC, and should not be lumped in with them. Against Virginia, they can see if they’re capable of being in the top three or four ACC teams.
- Jake Layman is now averaging 12.3 points over six games as a starter.
This one is perhaps the biggest point. Jake Layman scoring 12.3 points as a starter means that the Terrapins definitively have another starter they can rely on for scoring in stretches. Layman has essentially secured his spot in the starting rotation now, and that should signal more confident play and at least some defined roles for the Terrapins. The fact that the defense played as well as ever, means that there wasn’t much of a drop off in quality of play. Layman is going to get even better knowing that he doesn’t have to worry about minutes, and perhaps he can play good offensive basketball for more than just 22 minutes a game (all his points came during that time span).
——————- A few thoughts on Virginia
Maryland plays Virginia on Sunday in what will be arguably their biggest test at home this season. Knowing that North Carolina State falls into the “pretender” column secures that notion. The Cavaliers are no cake-walk indeed, and they will be just as tough to beat as Duke (or anyone else, for that matter).
Currently, Virginia is 6-3 in the ACC, with all their losses coming on the road against inferior opponents (Clemson, Wake Forest, and Georgia Tech). Much to the advantage of Maryland, their play on the road is suspect at best. At home during ACC play, they average almost 64 points per game. On the road in the ACC? 57. Their play typically suffers on the road, which actually makes them a lot like Maryland.
What makes them even more like the Terrapins is that no matter the opponent, they almost always come to play. The Cavaliers have two very talented players in Joe Harris and Akil Mitchell who handle most of their scoring, but Jontel Evans aka Pe’Shon Howard aka completely offensively inept, is the guy who gets them the ball. If he is passing to open shooters and getting the offense good looks, the Cavaliers are scary good.
We’ll have more information on the Cavaliers when the preview goes up tomorrow, but that’s a little about them to prep you for the weekend. In the meantime, roll Terps