Dec 6, 2014; College Park, MD, USA; Winthrop Eagles forward Tevin Prescott (31) has his shot blocked by Maryland Terrapins forward Jake Layman (10) and forward Damonte Dodd (35) in the second half at Xfinity Center. The Terrapins won 82-62. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports
Maryland is ten games into the season and at 9-1 they have exceeded preseason expectations to this point. Saturday morning presents another challenge to making sure Maryland maintains a strong NCAA tournament résumé. Many teams in the Big Ten have been unable to avoid a bad loss in November/December, which makes what Maryland has done so far impressive.
USC Upstate is currently riding a three game winning streak, with their most recent win coming at Georgia Tech. Their two loses this season have been by a combined twelve points. The Spartans use the three ball to their advantage, which has helped them to keeping games close throughout the full forty minutes.
Here are the three keys to Maryland winning their tenth game of the season:
1) Avoid A Slow Start
Over the past three games Maryland has scored a total of six points before the first media timeout. Between the under sixteen and under twelve media timeouts, Maryland has picked up there pace and scored twenty points during that four-minute stretch. What makes the slow start even worse is that Maryland is starting slow on defense as well. Maryland has allowed eleven points in three games before the under 16 and twenty-eight points between the under sixteen and under twelve media timeout.
Maryland picks up their pace after the under twelve media timeout and over the past three games they have finished the half with an average of thirty four points. Regardless of why they are starting slow, with how well USC Upstate shoots the three Maryland will need to make sure they don’t find themselves down too much early. The Terrapins are able to light it up from three as well, but with a young team the fear arises of them pressing too much if down to a perceived weaker team.
2) Damonte Dodd
USC Upstate has only one player taller than 6’7” and that is Michael Buchanan who averages seventeen minutes per game. Maryland’s frontcourt should be able to have a big game against the under sized Spartans. Dodd in particular has shown a lot of improvement between last year and this year. Not only does he look more comfortable on the floor and is shooting better, but his defense and play making ability have been important for the Terps success. Over the past two games, Dodd has contributed five blocks and five assists. In the high post we have seen Dodd show the ability to make plays for his teammates, a dimension that Maryland lacked last year from their frontcourt. With Dodd likely being matched up against an undersized center, we should see him show off more of his play making ability and potential post moves. Questions still remain about Dodd as a scoring option in the post, Saturday should give us some insight into if he has learned a move or two down low.
Maryland will need to play tight defense, especially on the perimeter. USC Upstate is fourteenth in the country in assists at 17.4 per game. Their two leading scorers, Ty Greene and Fred Miller, are lights out shooters from deep. Greene hits the three at an average of 45.3% while Miller is at 47.1%. The starting point guard, Mario Blessing, has eleven assists to one turnover in the past four games, and on the season has an insane 7.6 assist to turnover ratio this season. Blessing isn’t a threat to score much, but he runs the Spartans offense with great efficiency. Maryland was burned by Arizona State from three but since then has improved this aspect of their defense. According to hoop-math.com, Maryland is holding teams to 29.4% from three. However, 41.0% of the shots taken against Maryland are from three, which means that against a good three point shooting team something has to give.