Nov 24, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Maryland Terrapins forward Michal Cekovsky (15) shoots a jump shot as Arizona State Sun Devils forward Jonathan Gilling (31) defends during the first half at Sprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
The Maryland men’s basketball team capped off the Thanksgiving weekend with a win over the Virginia Military Instituite. It was the fourth game in the last week and the second without guard Dez Wells. I take a look at the positives and negatives surrounding Mark Turgeon’s squad.
- Pack back on track – After missing his last 13 shots over three games, guard Richaud Pack bounced back with a very strong performance against VMI. Pack just looked a lot more comfortable and didn’t seem to be rushing things quite as much. The North Carolina A&T transfer did it all: shot, rebounded, and dished the ball very well. Pack was able to get out in transition frequently, and made quick decisions. On several possessions, he dished it off to a cutting teammate, and others, he took it up to the rack strong. While this certainly doesn’t mean that Pack will score 20 plus points night in and night out, it is encouraging that he has found his game. If he’s able to distribute effectively and rebound a little bit, that’ll go a long way in helping Maryland have a strong showing throughout the season.
- Wiley starts and shines – Coming into the 2014-15 season, it almost seemed as though guard Dion Wiley was the forgotten man in the star-studded 2014 recruiting class. However, Wiley has looked superb early on this season. The former Potomac star had a reputation of being a fantastic shooter, and that has followed him to College Park as he’s shooting 37.5 percent from beyond the arc. However, one of the most impressive parts of his game is his ability to get to the rim. When his shot isn’t there, Wiley isn’t afraid to put the ball on the floor and attack the basket. On a few occassions against the Keydets, Wiley was able to get behind the defense and finish strong at the rim. Teams definitely know that Wiley can shoot, but if he can consistently develop an inside game, we’re looking at an extremely dangerous player. With Wells out for likely the rest of the non-conference schedule, Wiley could see more starts after the kind that he turned in on Sunday. Aside from converting a layup for the first points of the game, Wiley scored 17 of his 19 points in the second half, proving that he can play when the pressure is on.
- Cekovsky continues to develop – Big man Michal Cekovsky continues to look more and more comfortable with each passing game. On Sunday evening, Cekovsky scored 10 points and grabbed six rebounds for the Terps. The Slovakian center really imposed his will at times, and had a few monster baseline dunks. The more Cekovsky plays, the more impressive this European seven-footer becomes. This game was definitely Cekovsky’s best as a Terp as he always seemed to be in the right position, and played well on both ends of the floor. Cekovsky looked more comfortable rebounding the basketball, and just seemed to take control of the paint a little more than in previous outings. He just seems to take the ball up to the rim a lot stronger, and didn’t have any problem swatting shots either (had a season-high three blocks). When it’s all said and done, Cekovsky could be a very underrated pickup and among the most talented big men in the Big Ten.
- Smotrycz injures ankle – After receiving some great news before the Monmouth game on Friday, Maryland suffered another letdown against VMI as forward Evan Smotrycz injured his left ankle. Unfortunately for Smotrycz, it was on the same side as his broken foot from October. On Sunday, Smotrycz only played eight minutes and went 0-of-2 shooting the ball. The senior forward did not play in the second half. Following the game. Turgeon said that Smotrycz’s status for Wednesday’s game against Virginia is uncertain. Smotrycz looked rusty in his first two games back and may be a little out of game shape. It’s important for Maryland not to rush the former Michigan Wolverine back and to have him as healthy as possible for Big Ten play.