It’s halftime at John Paul Jones arena, and the Terps are up 26-25. Despite starting the game off relatively hot, the Terps have since cooled significantly but still managed to maintain a slim lead. Smotrycz and Allen lead the team with 8 points apiece, but outside of them no one is shooting very well. While there are certainly some corrections that need to be made on the defensive end with this zone offense, it’s hard to be too upset about the game thus far. How ’bout some observations…
1.) Virginia can’t guard Smotrycz, Maryland can’t guard Malcolm Brogdon
This is unexpected, but not entirely surprising. For the Cavaliers, Smotrycz and his patented pump fake drive/dish move is proving to be too much for their big men to handle. Akil Mitchell is long, but he completely lacks any recovery speed. For the Terps, the motion offense is being run to perfection with Brogdon, who has sliced and diced his way through their defense.
What’s going to be interesting about this game is that they’re both very correctable: send help defenders. Both players are going to burn their matchups, but it’s a team game. So far, Virginia has done a better job with help D, so they have the edge. But if Smotrycz is hitting outside shots, then UVA won’t have much of an answer.
2.) Defend the paint!
It’s pretty simple: Maryland is getting obliterated in the paint right now. Perrantes is beating Allen off the dribble and dishing the ball off, Brogdon and Anderson are having their way down there as well on cuts, and Akil Mitchell is making tough shots.
There’s no real answer to that on the roster, as Mitchell and Smotrycz aren’t good paint defenders. The only real response is limiting entry passes and denying cutters or at least impeding their progress. That’s the only way Maryland can slow Virginia down, really. Unless Damonte Dodd turns into Dikembe Mutombo by touching a Space Jam ball.