Maryland Basketball: What we know about the Terrapins


The Maryland basketball team is wrapping up the non-conference portion of the schedule.

With Big Ten play looming, what have we learned about the Terrapins?

Maryland began the 2015-16 season with lofty expectations as the program was being projected as a potential No. 1 seed in March’s NCAA Tournament. The Terps ended up beginning the season with a No. 3 ranking in the Associated Press poll.

As the season began, Maryland opened up against Mount St. Mary’s with an 80-56 win. The Terps shook off a sluggish start, and displayed their deep roster with five players that scored in double figures.

With a 1-0 start in their back pocket, Maryland welcomed Georgetown to the Xfinity Center in the one of the most anticipated local basketball games at any level in quite some time. The Hoyas made the trek to nearby College Park after being upset by Radford.

Georgetown gave Maryland their first true test of the young season. The Hoyas jumped out to an early lead, and even led with under four minutes to go. However, guard Rasheed Sulaimon put the Terps in front for good with a clutch three-pointer with just 1:20 left in the game. In addition to this contest, Maryland was only outrebounded in games against Maryland-Eastern Shore (28-26) and North Carolina (32-30).

After beating Georgetown, Maryland topped the likes of Cleveland State, Illinois State, Rhode Island, and Rider to improve to 6-0.

Then one of the most intriguing games of the entire season happened. The Terps traveled to Chapel Hill to take on North Carolina in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Maryland struggled to defend star guard Marcus Paige, who was playing in his first game after breaking his hand prior the season. Paige lit it up from the perimeter as he scored 26 points on 7-of-12 shooting, including four threes.

It was also a game in which the Terps never led as they fell behind early and were oftentimes fighting back from a double-digit deficit against the Tar Heels. Maryland’s perimeter defense certainly left a lot to be desired due to the fact that North Carolina shot 69.2 percent (9-of-13) from beyond the arc. Four of the five Tar Heel starters scored in double figures with star forward Justin Jackson being the only one who didn’t, but he still managed to chip in nine points.

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  • The final marquee non-conference showdown was against Connecticut at Madison Square Garden in early December. The two schools did battle two seasons ago before the Huskies won a national title as star guard Shabazz Napier led the way.

    Maryland started off the game by playing some of their best basketball of the young season. Guard Melo Trimble and Diamond Stone led the way as they scored 23 of the team’s first 27 points. However, UConn hit their stride in the second half, going on a 13-2 run to cut the gap to just 67-64 with 2:54 left.

    Following the Huskie outburst, Trimble did what he tends to do best: get to the free throw line. In the final 2:54, the Bishop O’Connell (Va.) product hit five of his six free throw attempts to seal the game for the Terps.

    Maryland finishes off the non-conference campaign against Marshall on Sunday afternoon after victories against Maryland-Eastern Shore and Princeton.

    With an 12-game sample size, we can draw plenty of conclusions about Maryland.

    First of all, the Terps possess one of the most talented backcourts around.

    Trimble entered the 2015-16 season after a phenomenal freshman campaign that saw him earn All-Big Ten honors at the season’s end. The sophomore guard has continued to display his ability to score (14.8 points-per-game) the basketball at a high level, while also being able to distribute (5.8 assists-per-game) when he needs to. When it comes to guards, Trimble is absolutely fearless as he takes it to the rim with a purpose and finishes strong most of the time.

    On the other hand, Sulaimon came to College Park after a successful three-year stint at Duke. After he was dismissed from the team, Sulaimon explored his options as a graduate transfer before landing at Maryland. The veteran shooting guard has been the perfect running mate for Trimble so far. He has been an above-average facilitator (3.9 apg), including dishing out 6.3 assists per contest over the last two games. The former Blue Devil is also shooting a team-high 50.0 percent from beyond the arc.

    The duo really has began to gel as a unit, which makes the Terps a much more dangerous team. Against Maryland-Eastern Shore, it was extremely evident that these two know exactly where the other one is on the court a large of majority of the time. Simply put, this is one of the most lethal backcourts in the Big Ten, if not the entire country.

    Maryland also excels because their depth allows them to be a very balanced team. Trimble may be their best player, but he is also one of the most selfless guys around. For example, after the win against Saint Francis (Pa.), coach Mark Turgeon announced that Trimble is just as happy carrying the load as he is if he scores three points and the team wins.

    Maryland has one of the deepest frontcourts that you’ll see. Stone has been about as impressive as advertised. The former McDonald’s All-American has come off the bench in Maryland’s last five games, and is averaging 14.2 ppg to go along with 6.4 rebounds-per-game. Stone has really excelled coming off the bench, and it really seems like the perfect role for him. He still plays nearly 20 minutes per game every night, which the Terps definitely need from him.

    One of the other positives from a frontcourt standpoint, has been the play of sophomore forward Michal Cekovsky. Cekovsky has been an integral part of Maryland’s bench throughout the first 12 games. The Slovekian forward is much more polished in the post, and has showed the ability to be able to produce on a more consistent basis. Nearly all of his statistics are up from a season ago, and he’s playing a similar amount of minutes to last season.

    Last but certainly not least is transfer forward Robert Carter, who has arguably been Maryland’s best player. Carter, who is a true stretch four, has shown the ability to spread the floor and has put up big-time numbers. The Georgia Tech transfer is averaging 13.0 ppg and a team-high 6.6 rpg for the Terps. One of the most impressive parts of Carter’s game is his shooting ability. The junior forward leads Maryland with a 59.6 percent clip from the floor, which is tops among team regulars.

    The final major aspect that we have learned about Maryland is that this team can win close games.

    The Terps have been in four games that have been decided by 10 points or less. The most noteworthy has to be the Georgetown contest, where Maryland trailed by as many as nine points in the first half before climbing back into the contest. The Terps then trailed by seven with just 4:28 to go, but once again, they stormed back. Three-pointers from Jake Layman and Sulaimon gave Maryland the lead for good.

    Just three days later, the Terps topped Rider by just seven points. However, Maryland trailed by a dozen at one point, and didn’t hold a lead until there was just 5:27 left. The Terps ended the game by outscoring the Broncs 13-8 to escape with a 65-58 victory. Layman scored six of his 11 points in the last 5:27 to pace Maryland.

    As was mentioned above, Maryland also overcame a late rally from UConn earlier this month. The Terps led off the game by leading as many as 20 points in the first half. The Huskies roared all the way back to cut the deficit to just three points after a Daniel Hamilton shot from beyond the arc. As impressive as the comeback was, Trimble was able to sink free throws to send Maryland back to College Park with a victory.

    The Terps have faced quite a bit of adversity during the first 12 games, but it certainly will better prepare them for the battles in Big Ten play and in the NCAA Tournament. This is a team that has an incredibly deep roster, and will certainly be a force from a national standpoint this season.

    Next: A look at Walt Bell's offensive schemes