Mar 9, 2014; College Park, MD, USA; Maryland Terrapins forward Jake Layman (10) is fouled in the second half by Virginia Cavaliers forward Anthony Gill (13) at Comcast Center. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports
Maryland opened up the regular season with a convincing 34-point victory against Wagner on Friday. With five new additions to the team and a lot of role changes for the Terps, Maryland played with poise and control in the season-opener. As the Terps look ahead to Central Connecticut State tomorrow, a review of the three biggest points from Friday’s win.
- Melo Trimble played within himself: In high school, Melo was asked to do much more for the team in order to win. On Friday, Melo kept his composure and played with confidence in his first regular-season collegiate game. With just one turnover on a questionable illegal screen call, he did what Seth Allen very rarely did: hold onto the ball. Melo did a decent job facilitated the offense, though he did seem somewhat hesitant and cautious at times. Melo finished the game with zero assists, with Turgeon after the game saying that the freshman “never got in a rhythm.” Scoring-wise, Melo was aggressive inside and attacked the heart of Wagner’s defense a couple of times, but was unable to finish around the rim. That is not a concern moving forward and I fully expect, Melo to make those come Big Ten play. What he couldn’t do inside, he did outside. Melo 2/4 from threes, but his form and release makes me confident that he will improve that number moving forward. Overall, a good start for the freshman.
- Free throw shooting still a concern: Against a team like Wagner, poor free-throw shooting usually will not lose a game. Come conference play, they will, and shooting 65.9% on 27-41 shooting is far from acceptable. The starting five went 15-20 (75%) from the line, which is much better, but Maryland left 14 points from the line. In a close game, that can be the deciding factor. Last year, Maryland went 4-9 in games decided by seven points or less. Better free-throw shooting can help win a lot of those close games and improve resumes come March. While it is still the first game, this can be a big cause for concern if they don’t improve. One positive was that Damonte Dodd, who went 2-16 from the line during the 2013-14 season, went 4-8 from the line on Friday, already doubling his free throw makes from last season to this season.
- Jon Graham is Maryland’s best big man…right now: Michael Cekovsky generated the most excitement for Maryland fans this offseason. On Friday, fans may have to temper that excitement, as Cekovsky seemed like he was still far from adjusted to the college game. Rarely did Maryland feed him inside, but when they did, he did a good job of passing out to open shooters. This can help Maryland as it allows the Terps to reset the offense if Cekovsky can’t get a good look, but I would not say that he is ready by any means. As for Damonte Dodd, he’s still not where he needs to be. While he played 15 minutes and only picked up one foul, Dodd is still not refined offensively. You can see his potential to be better in time, but he’s not there just yet. Defensively, he altered a couple of shots down low and blocked two shots, but he had a lot of trouble securing rebounds and gave up too many offensive rebounds for Wagner. Cekovsky and Dodd give Graham the starting role, and the senior will thrive. While he may not always do it pretty, Graham’s toughness and relentless style of play gives Maryland their most reliable center right now.
- Richaud Pack is more valuable than expected: the grad transfer was Maryland’s best shooter on Saturday, going 2-2 from threes and 3-4 in the game. Pack hit one shot from about three feet beyond the three-point line from ease, and with his ability to score outside will open the floor up for cutters like Melo Trimble, Dez Wells and Jake Layman. When Melo rests, Pack assumes point guard duties, but you can tell he’s not a point guard. Pack at point guard also takes away from his strengths and makes him a little less of a threat because he can move so well without the ball and set himself up for an open shot. Nonetheless, Pack only had one turnover, and it’s hard to ask much more from your shooting guard-turned-point guard when he’s holding onto the ball. You could tell the offense was not as fluid when he was at point guard, though. Again, it’s still the first game, so Turgeon will have a week to improve the offense before the Terps take on Arizona State at home.
- Jake Layman improved: everyone is talking about it. Layman played better than his impressive stat line, too. The junior stretch-forward was efficient, scoring 16 points on 5-7 shooting, hauled in nine rebounds and dished out six assists. The assists is what stood out to me the most. It was clear that Layman was focused on getting his teammates involved and even passing on a decent three-point chance. Layman was active around the glass and did a good job boxing out his much bigger defender, leading to his nine rebounds. No matter where he was on the floor, when Maryland shot the ball, you could see Layman crashing the hoop to at least give Maryland an opportunity to get another offensive opportunity. With a younger roster, Layman will be relied on more heavily this season, and with showings like Friday night, he certainly won’t disappoint this season.