As I said in my halftime thoughts, Maryland needed to continue to play good defense. In the second half, it was anything but defense. Maryland fell to Pittsburgh 83-79 on Saturday night in a game that could have given the Terrapkns that first signature win this season.
Maryland made a late surge and cut the lead to 79-74 with 1:11 left to play and hung in the game due to countless Pittsburgh misses at the free throw line. The Terps certainly fought hard, but at times not smart. James Patterson did everything and anything for Pittsburgh as he dropped 28 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. As a team, the Panthers went 32-of-46 from the free throw line opposed to Maryland’s 23-of-30.
Maryland really struggled on switches off Pitt’s pick-and-rolls. When Patterson had a big man setting the pick, Maryland had a tough time identifying Patterson’s defender. Thus, Patterson drove in the lane and gave him an easy two points almost every time. Maryland’s zone defense once again stifled their opponent, but Turgeon quickly decided against it and went back to the man defense.
Guard Dez Wells was aggressive, guard Nick Faust was trigger-ready, guard/forward Layman came to play, and guard Seth Allen drove. But it wasn’t enough. Maryland had their opportunities in this game and fed off the Comcast Center crowd’s energy for most of the game. But it felt each time they were close, Patterson had something else up his sleeve, to put the 17,002 in attendance right back in their seats.
What really impressed me is that this game could have been much different had Maryland not continued to fight. In terms of heart, Maryland has it, but they sometimes substitute their heart for their brain. Maryland missed many open players on offense off the pick-and-roll that could have seriously impacted this game. It’s back to the film room to learn from these mistakes, though.
No, I do not believe that Maryland is a poor team, that Turgeon should be fired, and that Maryland has regressed. The ACC has no poor teams this year, although Virginia Tech is making it hard to continue to make that claim. Fans have yet to realize it, but the team misses former center Alex Len. Forward Evan Smotrycz is not a good power forward and center Shaquille Cleare and forward Charles Mitchell can’t play center. This team will get it together, but today’s loss was against a very good Pittsburgh team that almost knocked off Syracuse on the road. Maryland will be fine in time.
The Terps will look to bounce back Wednesday when they host Miami. Miami is coming off a 64-52 loss at home to Syracuse.