Perimeter Shooting Continues To Carry Terps


Feb 14, 2015; University Park, PA, USA; Maryland Terrapins guard Jared Nickens (11) shoots the ball over Penn State Nittany Lions guard Shep Garner (33) in the second half at Bryce Jordan Center. The Terrapins won 76-73. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

After beating Indiana last Wednesday, Maryland showed that they were a team capable of shooting the basketball at a very successful rate.

The Terrapins followed that up with another terrific performance against Penn State on Saturday evening.

Maryland shot over 47 percent for the second consecutive game. The Terps connected on 47.4 percent (9-of-19) from beyond the arc against the Nittany Lions, while shooting an even more impressive 48.9 percent (23-of-47) from the field. It marked the 10th time this season that Maryland shot at least 40 percent from both the field and from beyond the three-point line. All of those games resulted in wins aside from the first meeting from Indiana.

Over the course of the 2014-15 season, the Terps are shooting 43.9 percent from the floor, which is good for seventh in the rugged Big Ten. As for beyond the arc, they’re connecting at a 37.5 percent clip, which is good for fifth in the conference. Teams like fifth-ranked Wisconsin and Michigan are below the Terps, which shows just how accurate Maryland has been this year from the perimeter.

Compare that to last season where Maryland only shot 43 percent (+0.9 percent) from the field and 34.2 percent (+3.3 percent) from beyond the arc. During the 2013-14 campaign, the Terps had only three players that shot 35 percent or better from three (Seth Allen, Jake Layman, & Evan Smotrycz). The 34.2 percent mark was good for just eighth in the ACC, which was due in part to inconsistent shooting from several players.

Maryland was also attempting a full three-point field goal more per game last season, which was mostly due in large part to the team’s solid rebounding numbers. More rebounds leads to more shot opportunities. Unfortunately for the Terps, they didn’t connect on a ton of those second-chance opportunites.

As for the current campaign, Maryland has a much stronger supporting cast than they did a year ago. Not to mention that the roles on this year’s team are more clearly defined. Even towards the end of last season, Coach Mark Turgeon was still searching for the right lineup combination and was trying everything to come up with the right starting group.

Maryland’s backcourt is much more stable than it has been in a long time. When the Terps secured a commitment from Bishop O’Connell guard Melo Trimble, it was thought that he would see a significant amount of minutes as soon as he stepped on campus. However, Trimble has been one of the most impressive freshmen in the entire country and provides fluidity that the Terps lacked a season ago. Allen was a decent point guard, but was more of an off-the-ball type of scorer. Trimble was also a better shooter from beyond the arc and from the field in general.

The Terps also have a better scoring punch off the bench. Smotrycz isn’t forced to start and play starter minutes. He struggles a bit against true power forwards, so coming off the bench gives the former Michigan Wolverine a chance to spread the floor and shoot from the perimeter. While Smotrycz is shooting just 29.3 percent from beyond the arc, he is connecting on 31.8 percent of his three-point attempts over the last five games. He’s also made at least one shot from three-point range in each of those contests.

Transfer guard Richaud Pack also provides a good amount of stability to the Maryland perimeter attack. Pack or freshman Jared Nickens usually start, but Pack excels no matter when he comes into the game. He may be only averaging 6.7 points-per-game, but the North Carolina A&T transfer has the ability to score from anywhere on the court. At 6’3, Pack possesses the size and strength to put the ball on the floor and attack the basket. However, the senior guard also has some range from beyond the arc as he is shooting 30.9 percent from there this season. Pack also affects the game on the defensive end and on the glass, proving that he is an extremely versatile player.

Finally, Nickens is the x-factor of the entire group. If you saw him play at the Westtown School his senior year, then you know just how quickly this kid can affect a basketball game. Even with playing on a team that included Greek center Georgios Papagiannis and 2016 guard Jair Bolden (offers from Hofstra, James Madison, & La Salle), Nickens was “the guy.” If there was a big shot that needed to be taken, the Monmouth Junction native had the ball in his hands. Nickens is the type of player that can hit a shot from anywhere on the court. The Maryland freshman is shooting 38.9 percent from three-point range, which is second on the team to Layman’s 40.7 percent clip.

Maryland really didn’t have these types of players a season ago. Guard Nick Faust was supposed to be an elite player, but never really panned out and ended up transferring to Long Beach State where he will be eligible next season. Two years ago, the Terps had another solid transfer in Logan Aronhalt, but that was one of their main sources of successful perimeter shooting.

This year’s Maryland squad is incredibly lethal from the perimeter and shoots the ball as good as any team in the Big Ten, if not the nation. If Maryland is able to keep these types of consistent numbers up, the Terps could be a very dangerous team next month in the NCAA Tournament.