Feb 24, 2014; College Park, MD, USA; Maryland Terrapins head coach Mark Turgeon reacts from the sidelines against the Syracuse Orange at Comcast Center. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports
In the Terps final exhibition game before they take on Wagner on Friday, Maryland hosted Bowie State in the Xfinity Center for their final tune-up. Maryland came away with a 42-point victory, beating Bowie State 89-47. Maryland had another great offensive performance, shooting 55 percent from the field and 42.9 percent from three. Maryland improved in some aspects, but there are still some concerns heading into the season.
Maryland had 18 turnovers, a statistic they led the ACC in last year, against an inferior Bowie State team. Turnovers will kill a team’s chances to win, and if Maryland wants to be competitive this year, they will certainly need to cut that number in half. Trimble, Wiley, Cekovsky, Graham and Pack each had three turnovers. Maryland at times forced the ball a little too much as well as made questionable passes. Luckily, transition defense was stellar and minimized Bowie State’s ability to capitalize on the opportunities.
At the free throw line, Maryland shot 71.8%, compared to 67.9% last season. Ideally, Turgeon will like the free throw percentage in the mid-70s to low 80s as a team, so I’m certain he will emphasize capitalizing on easy opportunities will be a focus point this week in practice.
On to the positives, Layman had himself a breakout game, scoring 18 points on an efficient 7-8 shooting. He gave Maryland a reliable presence as a stretch four, but defensively it was tough to judge how effective he can be. Bowie State has a much smaller lineup, with their tallest man at just 6’7″. Nonetheless, Layman had seven rebounds, which is certainly encouraging. His big frame and improve box-out put him in positions to take his defender out of the play and come away with the ball.
We also saw a more aggressive Dez Wells, as he scored 11 points in just 17 minutes on 4-5 shooting. A storyline coming into the game, Wells showed off his versatility, vision and strength on offense, as he also had a big dunk. His ability to make plays is a factor that is vital for Maryland to make noise this year. Wells also added one assist and a steal, while giving up just one turnover. Wells led the team with an average of 2.5 turnovers a game last season, so bringing that number down will help Maryland reduce their turnovers.
The big men, Damonte Dodd and Michal Cekovsky, had more complete games than against San Francisco State. Dodd, while adding two blocks and four rebounds, had seven points on 3-4 shooting. Dodd showed a better ability to finish around the rim and become a more traditional back-to-the-basket scorer. His athleticism and instincts put him in position for rebounds, but he still needs to continue to improve for Maryland to be lethal at each position. Not to say he can’t get the job done, but Dodd must improve with each game passing. Cekovsky, on the other hand, did a great job of passing the ball out of the post as he saw a couple double teams. His scoring ability wasn’t on full display, as he scored four points on 1-3 shooting, but his offensive game as a whole is certainly encouraging given it’s only his second game in college. The freshman needs to work on minimizing his fouls, as he picked up three fouls in just 17 minutes of action. Foul trouble for either Dodd or Cekovsky could spell trouble for Maryland this season, as the Terps have Jonathan Graham as the only big that consistently played meaningful minutes last year.
Overall, in an exhibition, the biggest things are keeping everyone healthy and seeing improvement. Maryland saw another good shooting performance, as Dion Wiley added 13 points on 3-6 shooting (1-4 from threes) in 23 minutes and Jared Nickens added 12 points on 4-6 shooting (2-5 from threes) in a team-high 25 minutes. The freshman looked more comfortable than last week and forward Michal Cekovsky showed his ability to pass the ball out of double teams to open shooters, something former Terp Charles Mitchell couldn’t seem to understand.
Maryland fans should be encouraged with the team’s performance today. Up next, Maryland will take on Wagner at 7:30 PM on Friday at the Xfinity Center as they begin their quest for a 2015 NCAA tournament berth. Let the madness begin. Below are some highlights of the game from @BTN_Maryland as well as Turgeon’s press conference.