Dec 29, 2012; College Park, MD, USA; Maryland Terrapins center Alex Len (25) dunks the ball against the Delaware State Hornets during the second half at Comcast Center. Mandatory Credit: Paul Frederiksen-USA TODAY Sports
Happy 2013 Terp Nation! With a new year upon us, we have all created some resolutions for the year that we hope will help us all lead happier, healthier lives. Whether we are hoping to hit the gym more frequently, reduce our rush-hour road-rage, or finally dive headfirst into that new hobby, the New Year fills us with hope for self-improvement and a better life than last year. As fun as it would be to critically examine myself and set up realistic and needed resolutions for a new year, I’ve decided instead to think of the young Terps; I have thrown together a list of some resolutions for 2013 that if followed, should help this team end 2013 in a better place than where it started the year. My list includes resolutions for particular players, the team as a whole, and even the coaching staff. Without further ado, the 2013 Terrapin Hoops’ New Year’s Resolutions.
1. Nick Faust– Last season, Faust was the Terps’ second best player, and second most important scoring option. Clearly talented, the Freshman took a lot of bad shots last year (as did the entire team for that matter) on his way to nearly 9 points a game on 37.4% shooting from the field (and 27.1% from 3) in over 27.5 minutes per game. After last season it was clear that his efficiency needed to improve drastically for him to become the player his talent level suggests he can. Unfortunately, we are months into his Sophomore season and we have yet to see much improvement in his offensive efficiency. Faust still forces entirely too many shots, especially from the outside, and in my opinion, his ego is the biggest reason why. With the departure of last year’s leading scorer (Stoglin) in the offseason, I am sure Faust expected that his minutes and shots per game would see a big increase. However, with the addition of Dez Wells through transfer, the early dominance of Alex Len, and the emergence of Pe’Shown Howard as a floor general, Faust has fallen down the pecking-order on this Terps squad. However, Faust regularly acts on the court as if he is the main offensive option, with poor shot selection and even poorer efficiency being the result. If Faust is going to become the player he can, and if Maryland is going to enjoy the type of season it should, #5 will need to reign in the shot selection, and look to be more of a slasher/spot-up shooter offensively and a lockdown defender and rebounder defensively. He’s got all the tools in the world, but seems to only be interested using them on one end of the court. Check the ego and the door, Nick, and move into 2013 vowing to become a more complete player, not just an offensive chucker.
2. Alex Len– Oh, what a difference a year can make. Len, who played the second half of the season for the Terps after having to sit out early in his career due to playing professionally in Europe, at times struggled with the American game. Not this year. Since his domination of highly touted Nerlens Noel in the first game of the season, Len has been by far the most productive Terp this season. So what does the big fella need to do in 2013 to build on his excellent season? Quite simply, Len needs to realize his mismatches and demand the ball in the post. He’s the most productive and most efficient player for Maryland, which means the team needs to be playing through Len. Far too often Len goes long stretches without receiving post touches, and is too often relegated to getting his offensive off his own work on the glass. This must change if the Terps are going to make any noise this season, in what is sure to be Len’s last in College Park. In 2013, Alex, realize you are the best player on this team and demand the touches that come with a player with your star power. Showing this type of assertiveness certainly can’t hurt your cause as you look to impress the NBA scouts and prove yourself worthy of a lottery-pick.
3. Dez Wells– Dez has been very productive in his first season in College Park. His strength, athleticism, and motor have shown through on both the offensive and defensive ends this season, and he has proven deadly in transition. Wells is arguably the most physically gifted Terp, and has not yet scratched the surface of his potential as a player. Due to his high-ceiling, Dez has the chance to continue to add new skills to his arsenal each and every year. Wells is extremely well rounded as a player, but struggles shooting the ball consistently outside 15 feet. This is the area of his game I hope to see Dez resolve to improve in 2013. He doesn’t need to be a lights-out jump shooter, like a Juan Dixon, but he does need to improve on his current clip to become the Pro that he hopes to be. This type of improvement can’t necessarily be expected in 2012-13, but an offseason spent shooting 750+ jumpers daily is just what the doctor ordered. Here’s to hoping Dez resolves to make himself a better shooter during the summer of 2013, as this added skill will help push him, and Maryland, over the top in 2013-14.
4. Establish an Inside-Out Offensive Identify-As the year has unfolded, the biggest question that comes to mind each time I watch the team play is pretty simple: how the hell can a team with exactly 1 above average shooter (transfer Logan Aronhalt) jack so many 3’s??!! Currently the team has attempted 203 triples on the season, for an average of 15.6 per game, and have converted on 34.5% on the season. Not an awful mark, but when taken in context of the Terps overall FG% (50.3% good for 10th in the nation) you can see why shooting 3’s at this rate is simply not a good use of possessions for the Terps. Big man Alex Len, who leads the team in shots taken by a small margin, is shooting 58% from the floor. Dez Wells is shooting 57.1% and other big’s James Padgett, Charles Mitchell, and Shaquille Cleare shot 65.4%, 56.9%, and 61.7% respectively. On the flip side, shot happy guard Nick Faust (the Terps second leading shot taker) is shooting a tremendous 39.3% from the floor and an impressive 27.5% from deep. Now I point this out not to trash Faust, but to instead highlight the fact that the inside play for Maryland is truly the offensive strength of the team. But to frequently, the team plays from the outside-in, and not vice-versa. Good three’s come after paint touches, drive and space opportunities, and transition. That’s it. The Terps need to focus their offense through Len and Padgett in the half court, creating better opportunities from deep for the “shooters” so ready to get their 3’s up. If this Maryland squad is going to make the type of noise in the ACC that I believe it can, the half-court offense must be run through the paint. Any possession that doesn’t have a Len touch when he is on the court, is a bad possession. The attention he now commands down there will only open things up for the guys on the perimeter for open jump shots or driving lanes. Please, Terps, establish the men in the paint early and often as we move into ACC play in 2013, and stop this alarming trend of 3-point gunning.
5. Turgeon and the Staff– Dear Coach Turgeon, you have done a remarkable job in your brief tenure in College Park. Although we have not landed in the Top 25 yet, it is clear that you are establishing a program that will regularly be a member of that exclusive club year in and year out. There are several reasons for your success thus far (none bigger than the NCAA turning a sort-of blind eye to Alex Len’s professional career), but one of the trends that I would like to see you resolve to continue in 2013 is your fervent recruitment of the hoops-hotbed that is the DMV. The team currently touts Sophomore Nick Faust from Baltimore and Freshman Seth Allen from Woodbridge, and you already have commitments to add Suitland’s Roddy Peters and Damonte Dodd who hails from Centreville, Md next year and O’Connell’s Romelo Trimble the following year. I have been a Terps fan my whole life, and can say that at no point that I remember did the team land top talent from the DMV three straight years. Coach Turgeon, if you are going to have the type of success you want to have in your career here, continue to dominate recruiting in the area like you are. Maryland Basketball means something to the residents of this area, and landing the top local kids will continue to perpetuate that tradition of excellence. Love, Terps Fans Everywhere