Takeaways From Maryland/Northwestern


Jan 25, 2015; College Park, MD, USA; Maryland Terrapins guard Melo Trimble (2) defended by Northwestern Wildcats guard Bryant McIntosh (30) at Xfinity Center. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

Maryland came up with one of their most exciting and hard-fought victories of the season on Sunday night as the Terrapins downed Northwestern 68-67. The Terps rallied from 11 points down in the final 3:28 to secure their sixth win of the Big Ten schedule. There’s definitely plenty to dissect from a positive and negative aspect from Sunday’s game and I dive into it below:

  • Importance of upper classmen – This can’t be understated. After shooting a disappointing 3-of-10 from the field against Indiana, senior guard Dez Wells turned in one extremely strong performance against Northwestern. Wells connected on six of his 10 field goal attempts for 17 points, including five from the charity stripe. Wells’ veteran instincts were evident on several occasions, especially late in the game. Despite playing with three fouls in the second half, Wells made smart plays, including a layup in which he stepped around guard JerShon Cobb to avoid contact and complete the play. The basket cut the lead to 63-59 with 1:55 left, and wasn’t even his best player of the final two minutes. Guys like Wells and forward Jake Layman are incredibly important to this Maryland team. Even with high-level freshmen talent like Melo Trimble and Jared Nickens, teams still need that veteran presence when the game is on the line.
  • Nickens continues to thrive – Since being inserted into the starting lineup, Nickens has been a positive influence on the Maryland offense. In the last four games, the Westtown School product is averaging 10 points-per-game in 23.3 minutes-per-game. Nickens had arguably one of his most complete games of the season as he scored eight points and tied a season high with six rebounds in 31 minutes against the Wildcats. While he only hit on one of them, Nickens shot six of his 11 field goal attempts from inside the three-point line. The New Jersey native would definitely be even more effective with a solid mid-range game in his arsenal. When it comes to Nickens, it’s a given that he can be extremely dangerous from beyond the arc. However, taking that next step would force teams to guard him on the drive as well.
  • Maryland’s high post defense struggles – Maryland’s defense has been much better than many thought it would be due to limited post assets. Center Damonte Dodd has made significant strides from his freshman campaign, and has shut down some of the Big Ten’s better interior threats. However, one of the things that jumped out in Sunday’s win was how much the Terps struggled in the high post. On four different plays, Northwestern sucked Maryland’s interior into the high post and preceded to run backdoor cuts for their guards, which resulted in easy baskets. Maryland has been a solid defensive team inside and out, but not defending the high post aggressively could result in issues down the road. Maryland’s big men are athletic enough to recover even if they are caught out of position. It’s definitely something worth watching going forward.
  • Well-rounded effort from Smotrycz – Forward Evan Smotrycz is finally no longer dealing with the effects of the surgery on his fractured left foot. For much of this season, it was pretty clear to see that Smotrycz wasn’t at 100 percent. Now that his foot appears to be as healthy as it’s going to be, the Michigan transfer may be finally hitting his stride. In 23 minutes against the Wildcats, Smotrycz put together a solid statistic line of five points, four rebounds, three assists, and a steal. He is starting to look more comfortable on both ends on the floor. At this point, coach Mark Turgeon doesn’t need Smotrycz to put up gaudy numbers. The Terps just need Smotrycz to be a threat on the perimeter and grabbed a few rebounds.