So far, the young Terps are coming out of a relatively uneventful non conference schedule filled with mostly cupcakes and Kentucky (only loss). Going into the Virginia Tech game today they boast their longest win streak in over a decade. Even though the win streak is against mostly mediocre to weak teams it’s still impressive. Even the most talented teams tend to get tripped up by a mid-major at some point in the non conference schedule.
Maryland vs. Virginia Tech Game Analysis:
Layman gets the start – Since the day Jake Layman committed to Maryland I’ve been excited about what he can bring to the team, mismatches galore. With that said, I probably would not have put money on Layman having the first five points today. I think Jake gets the start today because of Faust’s shaky play as of late and Turgeon wanting to give confidence to a player who some consider Maryland’s 10th man (or maybe it was a present from Turgeon to Layman for getting a haircut). I love the move and based on the start it worked out perfectly. If Layman can be a major player this year, Maryland’s potential is unlimited.
Defensive rebounding – In the first half the Terps dominated on the boards on offense. But they let up too many rebounds on the defensive side keeping them in the game. As the season goes on against ACC level talent the younger Terps should get better at putting a body on people for defensive rebounds.
Freshmen – Wow! Anytime you can come out in the first half and have freshmen score almost 70% of the points and have a 16 point lead in the first ACC game you know the future is bright. And boy is it. I can’t help but get excited when I think about how much improvement Maryland has shown year over year.
The 30 Minute Push – With about 10-11 minutes left Virginia Tech worked their way back into the game from a 22 point deficit. But they couldn’t quite get there. Tech, like Maryland last year, is going to find out more and more you can’t win with just one player. After stumbling with a few turnovers the Terrapins got right back on their feet and extended their lead again to the largest of the game.
Turgeon – Mark Turgeon has done an amazing job with filling out his roster with talent in only his second year with Maryland. I don’t know what Turgeon said to this team before the game but it sure fired them up. There are two specific things I want to point out about Turgeon this afternoon: 1) He was still screaming with 1:30 left in the second half and a 20+ point lead 2)In his post-game interview Turgeon mentioned that he thought that “we are nowhere near where we are going to be in a month.” I love the enthusiasm.
Quick Game Notes:
- Love that we cut down the turnovers, only 11 today.
- Hope Faust is OK. Depth helps us but Faust is a great player who hasn’t met his full potential and will surely be better as the ACC season goes on.
- Poor free throw shooting didn’t hurt us today (44%) but shooting sub-50% is not acceptable and will eventually cost Maryland a game eventually.
- Padgett looked lost out there compared to Mitchell and Cleare.
- Dez had an efficient and quiet twelve points. Hopefully fouling out doesn’t turn into a trend.
The First Five – Maryland’s first five ACC games are against Va Tech, Florida State, @Miami, NC State & @UNC. Four of these teams have top tier ACC talent on their team (Va Tech on the outside) and will be a true test for the young Terps. Florida State and Miami will be hungry to get wins for their resume. Miami has always been a tough place to play for Maryland but it should get a little easier with Reggie Johnson out.
The Remaining ACC Schedule – After a tough first five games there are only four games that truly stand out to me on the schedule: @Duke, @FL St, Duke & UNC. Other games that can be challenges are @GA Tech and @Virginia. The schedule gives Maryland plenty of opportunities for signature wins on a tournament resume, particularly the two games against Duke. However I don’t think this team is going to need signature wins to sway the committee but rather will be in a position to be fighting for a higher seed in the tournament.
Expectations – I think the Terps have a floor and ceiling of 10 and 16 ACC wins respectively. This is a talented team that is capable of beating any team in the ACC, and for that matter any team in the country. Still, the team is young and capable of being tripped up. The level of success this team enjoys will be contingent on how mature this young team can get over the course of the season. Reducing turnovers, making free throws, improving 3-pt % and rebounding on defense will all be key factors in every ACC game. Today, Maryland showed that they are improving but are not quite there yet. I, for one, am excited for this season and think Maryland will end up on the higher range of the 10-16 win window.
Individual Shout Outs:
- Alex Len will be huge (literally and figuratively) throughout the ACC schedule. I think he will step up to the challenge.
- If they can keep improving the Shaq/Chuck combo will be dangerous.
- Seth Allen is going to have a great career as a Terp.
- Jake Layman is going to keep improving and be a huge asset for the tournament.
- Dez Wells is a big reason the Terps only have one loss this season and he will continue to help this team succeed in ACC play.
All in all, it’s finally ACC play and I can’t be more excited for the next couple months. My colleagues and I will be posting updates both about the ACC in general and Maryland specific topics.