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
Maryland football’s motto is “by any means,” but after Thursday evening’s game, the phrase can apply to the basketball team as well.
Maryland followed another efficient night from forward Jake Layman (12 points and four rebounds) and an impressive game from forward Jared Nickens (13 points and six rebounds) to overcome a slow start in a 66-50 win over Fordham. With the win, Maryland improves to 3-0 on the year with the next game against a tough Arizona State team in the CBE Hall of Fame Classic in Kansas City.
The first half was a trainwreck for Maryland. Maryland shot just 2-10 from the free throw line and had eleven turnovers, keeping the Rams within striking distance. However, Maryland’s defense forced Fordham to shoot just 22.6 percent from the field as the Rams had just 18 points at halftime. Maryland outrebounded Fordham in the opening half 24-19, but had a tough time holding onto defensive rebounds which lead to second-chance opportunities for the Rams.
Nickens emerged in Thursday’s victory, giving Maryland 13 points off the bench despite shooting 4-of-12 from the field. While everyone will talk about Nickens’ hot game, big man Michal Cekovsky is the freshman that impressed the most. The raw, talented freshman gave Maryland a reliable rim protector and altered almost every shot that came inside. He’s not Alex Len, but with an offseason to put on muscle, you see why Turgeon loves him in the long-run.
Layman had himself another good all-around game, finishing with 12 points on five-of-six shooting, four rebounds and one steal. You can see that he’s playing with more confidence than last year and he is more focused on trying to get an open shot rather than the contested shot.
Maryland opened up the second half with two quick three-pointers to force Fordham into a timeout in an effort to regroup. The Terps played much more aggressive and with a sense of urgency in the second half, forcing Fordham to play catch up for large chunks of the half. However, Maryland continued to have a tough time breaking the Fordham zone in the middle as guard Dez Wells didn’t move too well without the ball. Too often, Wells was on the perimeter as an option to swing the ball around, but Turgeon will use this game as a learning experience for this team.
Maryland left too many points at the free throw line as the team shot 16-of-27 (59.3 percent) in the game and just 2-10 in the first half. Turgeon said after the game that there’s a difference between shooting free throws in practice and in a game, but he will need to address this issue because Maryland will lose the close games in Big Ten play if they continue to shoot this poorly.
Overall, it wasn’t the most impressive performance from Maryland. Fans knew that Fordham is more skilled than Wagner and Central Connecticut State, but the performance was far from ideal. However, a win is a win, and Turgeon will be able to analyze the game with his young team and teach them how to perform better on both sides of the ball in order to improve next time the Terps face a stellar defense. Good teams find a way to win, and Maryland did just that against Fordham.