Maryland Basketball: Wahab holds the key to future Terps success this season
Saying that the 2021-22 basketball season has been one of discontent for Maryland Basketball, would be an understatement of massive proportions. Mark Turgeon parted with the program more than a month or so ago and the team has been struggling to find its collective offensive and defensive identity as a result. One of the players that have been affected the most by Turgeon’s departure is highly touted transfer big man Qudus Wahab. Wahab was one of the more coveted post players available in the transfer portal this off-season, and he was expected to be a huge piece on the block for the Terps to build around for this year. His impact hasn’t been as significant as what the terrapin faithful expected, which has left many to wonder where he actually fits in.
Inconsistent play out of the post has been one of the major issues plaguing the terrapins this year at times, on both ends of the floor. As erratic as that part of the game has been for the Terps, it’s still one of the key ingredients needed for this team to make the most of the 2nd half of the Big Ten regular season. A healthy and confident Qudus Wahab is an essential part of that goal. How can Maryland Basketball tap into Wahab’s potential as an offensive and defensive force on the court? Here are a couple of ways that interim head coach Danny Manning and the Terps can get him going in a big way.
One of the huge criticisms of Maryland Basketball this year (and much of the Turgeon Era) has been the offensive droughts and stagnation that have become an unfortunate and frequent by-product of the terrapins’ offensive sets. The offense might work like a well-oiled machine for a few minutes, but go long stretches without any sort of continuity, often relying on the isolation skills of guards in the offense. As talented as the Fatts Russells, Eric Ayalas, and Donta Scotts‘ of the team are, ball movement within the system creates more ‘good’ space for the offense to be effective. This is particularly true when it comes to giving traditional big men space to go to work. Wahab could definitely benefit from a re-dedication to that concept. More space to operate equals more comfort for Wahab to ply his trade. It could prove to be pretty big as Maryland Basketball hits the meat of the big ten conference schedule.
Playing More Zone
Qudus has had a ton of difficulty working against pick & roll schemes in the big ten this season, often looking completely out of sorts and finding himself in a less than optimal position to rebound or to serve as an effective rim protector. The traditional switching, man-to-man concepts that have powered terrapin defenses in the past are less effective with him on the court. More zone, while he’s on the court, could be an effective strategy to maximize his defensive and rebounding effectiveness in half-court situations. Wahab will eventually need to really work on that aspect of his game in the off-season, but this tactical change could be the key to getting the most out of the talented big man on that end of the floor for the rest of this season.
The first half of this season was a little shop of horrors for Maryland Basketball, but they’ve stabilized the ship for the most part over the last 4 game span. The real test comes during this stretch, where the terps will have a golden opportunity to play their way back into the NCAA tournament conversation. If they’re going to do so, getting the most out of Qudus Wahab will be essential. One thing is for sure; He’s a piece that would make that quest for tourney eligibility that much easier if he’s playing to the best of his ability.