Before Maryland took the court against Wisconsin on Tuesday evening, it was a known fact that defense was going to play a big role in determining the outcome.
The matchup between the Big Ten’s top two teams didn’t disappoint. However, it was one of the Terrapins seldom-used players that made a significant impact on the outcome.
Freshman forward Michal Cekovsky played 24 minutes in relief of center Damonte Dodd, who had foul trouble throughout the night. Cekovsky had an impact from the moment he stepped foot on the floor of the Xfinity Center.
The surplus of minutes for Cekovsky came out of nowhere. Before Tuesday’s game, the European big man only played four minutes over the last three games.
However, Cekovsky played a huge role in Maryland defeating Wisconsin. One of the main reasons for Cekovsky playing important minutes was to defend Wisconsin star forward Frank Kaminsky.
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First of all, Cekovsky has the size to defend big men like Kaminsky. Based on the matchup alone, Kaminsky is a player that stretches opposing defenses due to his ability on the perimeter.
One of the biggest areas that Cekovsky impacted the Badgers was on the defensive end. While Wisconsin is 11th in the Big Ten in rebounds-per-game (33.7), Kaminsky is second in the conference with 8.3 rpg.
Cekovsky didn’t back down from Kaminsky as that appeared to be his purpose for entering the game. The Slovakian big man guarded the All-American on the perimeter and when he made his way down into the low post. Cekovsky was with Kaminsky every step of the way.
It took Kaminsly 14 shots to get to a total of 18 points as he had to work for everything he got.
When it was all said and done, “Checko” totaled four points, six rebounds, and a block during his time on the floor.
Cekovsky really made his impact in the second half when Kaminsky really seemed off his game. The Wisconsin big man only had six points and a single rebound after one half of play. Cekovsky played with incredible purpose and officially announced his arrival with a ferocious slam dunk on a backdoor cut with 11:10 remaining in the first half. His dunk gave Maryland a 16-10 lead and really was the start of the Terps hitting their stride in the opening stanza.
The low post has been somewhat of a revolving door for Maryland with Dodd, forward Jon Graham, and forward Evan Smotrycz all playing extended minutes. The emergence of Cekovsky could be huge with Selection Sunday just two weeks away. If the Terps continue to get this kind of production from their best kept secret, Maryland could be primed for a deep run in March.
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