Jan 13, 2013; Coral Gables, FL, USA; Maryland Terrapins guard Pe
1. The Terrapins don’t do well away from Comcast
The Maryland Terrapins have proven that, save for one game against Northwestern, when they aren’t in Comcast, they aren’t really hitting their shots. It was an oddity when they shot 33.3% in their first game on a neutral floor against Kentucky. But with four games away from Comcast Center under their belt, we know that they shoot a pretty miserable 40% from the field on the road (compared to their average FG% of 48). Against Miami they had their worst outing, hitting only31.6% of their shots.
Of course, that’s what happens when you have a team full of youth like the Terrapins; historically young players get rattled on the road. The turnovers and rushed shots are exacerbated by a raucous crowd that’s yelling “Air Ball!” at guys who just bricked an open jumper. There’s no morale safety net on the road, and it hurts the team. Alex Len and Dez Wells, two of the more experienced players on the floor, hit 54% of their shots. The rest of their team, well, they didn’t do that.
The entire squad looked uncomfortable all night, and the crowd had a lot to do with that. When you rely on so many new, young, faces unfamiliar with the pressures of road games like this one, it’s plain to see that the Terrapins just need more experience. Dez Wells looked clearly frustrated by his teammates lack of assertiveness on the game, and that summed up the night.
2. The free throw shooting (and getting to the line) was horrendous
It wasn’t just the shooting from the field that was pretty paltry, it was also the shots taken from the charity stripe. Maryland went 8-of-18 from the free throw line, and had they converted a few more of those this game would have been much closer. Dez Wells missed the opportunity for a couple three point plays, and Alex Len was way off his average by going 4-of-9 from the stripe.
Of course, outside of those two only James Padgett even attempted a free throw (he went 1-of-4). That points to another pressing issue: the Terrapins have to get to the line more often. During a rough and tough game like that, when the shots aren’t falling, getting to the line is more important than ever. Rather than going 1-of-8 from the field, Nick Faust could have asserted his will on the game by drawing some contact down low and getting the Miami bigs in trouble. He didn’t do that and was rendered utterly useless on the offensive end.
Pe’Shon Howard and Seth Allen, as the point guards and primary ball handlers, absolutely have to do more of the same when their shots are not going in. Instead of continuing to chuck three pointers at the rim for a net-zero result, they could have attacked the rack for the team. They failed to do that, and in doing so let the team down. Someone needed to step up, and no one did.
3. Assist to turnover margin against Miami points to a coaching issue
The Terrapins turned the ball over as many times as they normally turn the ball over (which would be 14 times a game), but they looked especially bad because of the horrible ball movement which led to only four assists. That’s more of a testament to just how stingy Miami was on defense than it is an indictment on Maryland’s unselfishness. Miami got into passing lanes with their length and disrupted the flow of the game. Whereas Maryland normally moves the ball around the perimeter well and waits for good opportunities, when the shots weren’t going in they decided to try hero ball and contested jumpers which didn’t work.
That right there is on Mark Turgeon, who needs to call and timeout and reestablish the fact that, if the Terrapins had kept the defense on their heels, something was bound to give. The shots would eventually start falling, and the Terrapins would eventually get back into the game. There were little to no adjustments made in the first or second half that indicated the Terrapins were trying anything differently. Dez Wells and Alex Len dominated during some hero ball sessions while the rest of the team did nothing. Turgeon has to figure out a way to ensure that it doesn’t get to the point where Maryland only has two effective players, while no one else can find their spots.
And finally, 4. Pe’Shon Howard is struggling right now
Look, I have seen some pretty bad shooting slumps in my lifetime. It happens to both good and bad shooters and players, and Pe’Shon Howard, largely on the season, is going through an absolutely miserable stretch of shooting right now. You have to feel for the guy, as he hasn’t made a shot in three games (0-for-13) and is seeing his assist numbers plummet because of his inability to be a legitimate threat on offense from anywhere.
Howard has eight assists and seven turnovers over that three game stretch, and appears to have lost a lot of confidence in his game (as has the coaching staff). His problem stems largely from shot selection, where Pe’Shon hasn’t even attempted much of anything except three pointers (9 of his 13 field goal attempts have been from deep). It’s gotten to the point where Howard just needs to make the extra pass or try to pump fake out of a three pointer and drive to the lane, even if he’s open, because he is only effective from the free throw line.
A junior being benched in favor of a freshman is a hit to the confidence, but it could get even worse by season’s end if Howard can’t figure things out. His minutes have decreased significantly during this poor stretch of play, and going up against N.C. State isn’t looking like a remedy for breaking out of a slump.