Six Observations From Maryland/Fordham


Dec 21, 2013; College Park, MD, USA; Maryland Terrapins head coach Mark Turgeon (right) reacts to the teams play with assistant coach Scott Spinelli (left) during the game against the Boston University Terriers at Comcast Center. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

It wasn’t the prettiest of games for Maryland, but a win is a win. Moving forward, the Terrapins will need to improve some aspects of their game, while other parts looked promising. I break down the good, bad and ugly from Maryland’s win over Fordham on Thursday night.

Pick-and-roll defense: Maryland did hold Fordham to 22.6 percent shooting from the field in the first half, but Maryland was repeatedly late rotating off the pick-and-rolls, allowing the Rams to get an open shot. This has been a problem consistently this year, especially with their big men. This issue derives from a lack of communication, which is a common issue with a young team. The defense was tighter in the second half, but Fordham was still able to hit a couple three-pointers. Against tougher teams or teams with more talented stretch power forwards, this will hurt Maryland.

Free-throws: They even have the word “free” in them. At the half, Maryland was up 23-18 and was just 2-10 from the charity stripe. Fordham plays an aggressive zone defense that forces the ball-handler far outside the three-point line and puts more pressure on accurate, crisp passing. So when you have an opportunity for easy points, you have to take advantage if you want to win. It’s unacceptable for a team with tournament aspirations, and there’s no middle ground here.

Unforced errors: Maryland finished the game with TURNOVERS, but a bulk of the turnovers were simply unforced and passes or plays that were rushed. Maryland needs to play with composure on every play, not some plays. That’s what stands out about guard Melo Trimble. The Bishop O’Connell product plays with more experience than a freshman in his third regular season game. I keep saying this, but against the top teams, Maryland will have to fix those unforced errors.

Nickens Impressive: The lengthy freshman had himself an impressive game, adding 13 points and six rebounds. Although the young guard/wing had some questionable shot selection at some points in this game, Nickens showed off his versatility by driving to the hoop and making good passes down low.

Cekovsky Already Improving: Per InsideMDSports’ Josh Stirn, Cekovsky had seven altered shots against Fordham as he easily had his best game in his young Terp career. Almost every time Fordham came in the lane, Cekovsky did a great job going straight up and forcing the Rams to adjust to the freshman’s large frame. Offensively, Cekovsky didn’t finish great with his back to the basket, but he ran the floor well get again to give Maryland an opportunity to run a faster pace on offense. What he did exceptionally well was rebounding on both sides of the ball and finished strong on offensive boards. While he had the third-most rebounds in the game, Cekovsky’s three offensive rebounds were a result of his positioning and ability to break through the box out. You can tell that he still isn’t there in terms of post defense as he needs to continue to add muscle in order to fill out the rest of his body. That will come over the season as well as next offseason, but he’s certainly a promising prospect moving forward.

Learning experience: It wasn’t the prettiest game by any means, but Maryland had a close game and pulled it out. The offensive struggles in the first half will give coach Mark Turgeon an opportunity to teach his younger players how to break the 2-3 high pressure zone defense. Defensively, Maryland had their issues in the first half down low and on the perimeter, but made the necessary adjustments to close out Fordham. Maryland will now have their first test against a top-100 RPI team when the Terps take on Arizona State in Kansas City on Monday night.