Maryland blew out Catholic on Sunday, but there were a few takeaways from the game that I got a chance to ask the players about. While only Dez Wells, Jake Layman, and Nick Faust were available post-game, it was enough to get some good replies from the guys.
1.) One thing you guys will be happy about is that our site is now going to be featuring a shot chart for all the players this season. While it’s still in the works, just from the first game we got a good look at where the players were shooting from on the floor. Nick Faust, in particular, took nearly all of his attempts from the field from the left and right corners. I asked whether that was by design or just an occurrence for this game:
Coach wants us to all sit in the corners, just to spread the floor so we’re gonna do a lot of corner shooting. – Faust
The good news? Faust hit three triples and looked more fluid this year with his shot. If he’s hitting 37% of his corner three’s as the third- or fourth-best shooter on the team, this squad will be very difficult to go up against. Layman played that role last year, and actually didn’t do that well at it, but if Faust can excel in the corner shooting role, his draft stock and statistics will rise significantly.
2.) There’s a lot to get excited about with Damonte Dodd, but I’d stress to everyone to temper those expectations. Sure, 4 points and 8 rebounds in 11 minutes looks great on paper for a guy who is supposed to go in and inject some energy into the lineup, but I’d be cautious to ask him to do much more out there. Not to be a Debbie (Yow) Downer, but Catholic had the smallest lineup Maryland will see all season. And probably the least talented.
Even against them, Dodd looked pretty lost on the defensive end at times. He lost the man he was guarding on numerous occasions, and you can count on better teams taking advantage of that. He has a lot to learn, but the fact that he did what he was supposed to do against lesser opponents (play above the competition) bodes well for him. Turgeon also had glowing words about the freshman:
He brings energy. I can’t tell you how far that kid has come since our first practice this summer. He’s come and he works and he’s a great kid, he’s got no ego, which is really fun to coach. He’s still got a lot to learn, he forgets things…assignments defensively and misses things offensively. But he’s so much further along than he was a month ago…When you play 35, 38 games, 40 games however many we play this year, you’re gonna come out flat sometimes and he’ll bring that energy for us. Great first game for him.
3.) Evan Smotrycz is a guy who is very difficult to get a read on. Most people see him as a three point shooter; other still see him as a competent defender and better passer. Perhaps he’s all of the above and then some? I think my favorite attribute of his is that he still has some Big Ten-ball remnants in that he plays gritty. That he can get to the line the way he can may help offset some of the free throws and slow-down play that Maryland lost upon Len’s departure.
Smotrycz attempted eight free throws on Sunday, which is a pretty solid number for a guy who was supposed to be a perimeter player. He played like a veteran and fully understood how to draw contact from a defender. Can he do that against stiffer competition? Arguably more so. Smotrycz might not have a great shooting night every game, but then he doesn’t need to with the ability to drive inside and draw contact, especially with the new rules.
Layman on Smo’s ability to get to the line:
It’s huge. When he’s got a bigger guy on him, or a slower guy, him getting to the line is going to really help a lot.
4.) Roddy Peters may not be the starting point guard, but he is decidedly a point guard. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much from Roddy as a pure point guard. He’s 6’5 and played the two for the majority of his life, so I didn’t think he had the instinct. It’s still early, but I think that assessment will turn out to be wrong — thank goodness.
From the minute Peters stepped onto the court I saw he had one thing that you legitimately can’t teach a point guard: pace and tempo. Some guards have it, some guards don’t (John Wall is still trying to learn it). Peters slows the game down or speeds the game up according to, essentially, how he feels it’s going. The offense looked exponentially better while he was directing it, even if it meant a simple entry pass at the right time.
His handles still need a little work, as he can still be a little careless with the ball, but Peters is a playmaker if I have ever seen one, and I think with some more in-game experience he’ll prove to be a perfect guard for this offense.
5.) Shaquille Cleare looks rusty? I’m not sure if that’s the word for it, but Cleare didn’t look like a guy ready to take the next step towards being a dominant center. Physically, he looked phenomenal; he’s in better shape now than he has ever been in his lifetime. But mentally? I’m not sure he’s 100% just yet after (perhaps) that back injury.
When you compare him to the activity we saw out of Charles Mitchell, he just looked tired, slow. That wasn’t the debut I was expecting to see, but again, it’s the first game. One reason for this lethargy could have been the opponent being played. Catholic had a ton of small guys, and as we saw with Len last year, when you play smaller guys as a big man, they may give you some trouble. Cleare wasn’t blocking their shots and he wasn’t able to get much going offensively.
Hopefully against Connecticut we see more out of him.
Coach really didn’t give me a role or anything, he just told me to go out and play. He knows I’m a smart player.”