It’s probably safe to say that the Terrapins simply cannot take care of business on the road, regardless of circumstance or desperate need for a win. Against Boston College, the Maryland Terrapins dropped a game that many believed would be a let down after a huge win vs Duke 69-58, thanks to a plethora of issues that all came to a head at once.
The game was ugly from start to finish, with neither team shooting over 40% from the field, and barely scoring 20 points combined at the ten minute mark in the first half. The Eagles were outrebounding the Terrapins (in fact, this game marks the second time all year Maryland has been outrebounded, 36-29), but they were also doing everything necessary to make life tough for the Terps as well.
They took Maryland’s weaknesses and magnified them by a large margin on their home court. Take, for example, the lack of outside shooting on the Terrapins. Boston College doubled (and sometimes tripled) Alex Len on nearly every possession, and just dared players to hit the open shots. Logically, Seth Allen, Jake Layman, and Dez Wells, when faced with wide open looks all night, missed 8-of-26 attempts from the floor. Any time you get a group of players, all of whom are starters, missing wide open looks like that, you’re bound to lose.
Of course, Maryland played right into that strategy, and continued to shoot with stone cold hands when in reality they should have continued to pound the ball down low. Why? Because when you pound the ball down low on a night when your shooting is clearly off, you pick up fouls. You pick up fouls, slow momentum down, and get easy points which help you gain confidence. That, in turn, warms the cold hands up and hopefully leads to some baskets falling. It is the exact same strategy that the Terrapins employed against Duke, where they fouled out Mason Plumlee, and got very easy points by shooting 34 free throws on the night.
Against Boston College? They had 11.
Mark Turgeon tried to let his shooters shoot, employing four guard lineups against the Eagles when they went small, and I think that may have been an incorrect move. Taking Padgett, Shaq, and Mitchell out of much of the second half allowed Boston College to outrebound the Terrapins and attack the paint whenever they wanted. The Terrapins would have been better off offensively and defensively by leaving big men in the game to figure things out, rather than remove them all from the game, save for Len, who was the one playing the worst.
That small guard lineup in the second half was when Olivier Hanlan, the superb freshman, was able to go to work on the Terrapins defense. He torched Howard, Allen, and Faust off the dribble repeatedly in transition, and Alex Len oftentimes couldn’t get to the basket in time to contest his layups. Hanlan was a spark plug, but I have a feeling he may have been slightly impeded had there been more bigs on the roster. Not to mention a guy like Eddie Odio, who came into the game averaging three points and 3 rebounds, being able to snare down 11 rebounds on Maryland’s small ball lineup.
You could make the argument that the Terrapins had to go small because of the personnel Boston College was rolling out, but I disagree. Boston College is a streaky shooting team, and forcing them to make the wide open shots instead of letting them dictate the game may have been a wiser strategy. Heck, even with the small ball lineup, the Terrapins were allowing them wide open shots and wide open looks in the paint. They scored more in the second half, shot better in the second half, and looked much better in the second half when Maryland yanked their big men from the game. Hanlan was being matched point-for-point by Aronhalt, and outside of that there was no one.
Either way, a credit to the Eagles for taking Alex Len out of the game, but shame on Maryland for not sticking to their guns. Aronhalt’s 26 points on 8-of-13 shooting, were almost half of the 20 points that the Terrapins had. When they went scoreless for seven minutes straight in the second half, the Terrapins really needed someone to be aggressive and draw fouls. They failed to do that, and showed symptoms of youth, and in doing so really put a dent in their tournament potential.
This loss brings them below .500 in the ACC, and if we’re being honest it doesn’t look particularly bright right now. The Terrapins aren’t completely out of it, of course, because there is still an ACC tournament to be won and a couple more RPI boosters in North Carolina and Virginia. Still, the Terrapins definitively have to be near-perfect from here on out if they want to remain in the discussion when the tournament decides to select.
That means beating teams on the road, too, because three of their five final games are played in venues lacking the word “Comcast” in them. That’s a scary though, considering Wake Forest, Georgia Tech, and UVA are all just as good as Boston College, who just beat Maryland by 11. There are going to have to be some Herculean performances from here on out for the Terrapins to go on a winning streak heading into the conference tournaments. It’s been done before, but it’s going to have to be done again.
Next up? Maryland takes on Clemson Saturday for the first time this season. The Tigers are a pretty bad team, so it may perhaps be a confidence booster for the Terps after a tough road loss like this one. Perhaps.