Saturday, February 9, 2013

game preview: Maryland

Date/Time: Sunday, February 10; 1:00


Record against the Terps: 71-106

Last meeting: UVA 75, Md. 72; 3/4/12, College Park

Last game: UVA 78, Clem. 41 (2/7); Md. 60, VT 55 (2/7)


UVA: 60.2 (#343)
Md.: 66.1 (#187)

UVA: 104.9 (#93)
Md.: 104.5 (#102)

UVA: 85.7 (#8)
Md.: 90.0 (#33)

UVA: .8876 (#23)
Md.: .8217 (#56)

Projected lineups:


PG: Jontel Evans (3.2 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 4.7 apg)
SG: Paul Jesperson (4.3 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 1.2 apg)
SF: Joe Harris (15.6 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 2.4 apg)
SF: Justin Anderson (6.5 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 2.2 apg)
PF: Akil Mitchell (12.5 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 1.6 apg)


PG: Nick Faust (8.3 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 2.8 apg)
SG: Dez Wells (12.0 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 3.1 apg)
SF: Jake Layman (5.4 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 1.0 apg)
PF: James Padgett (6.0 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 0.5 apg)
C: Alex Len (12.6 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 0.8 apg)

I was a little disappointed by that beatdown of Clemson the other day.  We didn't make it to 80 points AND we let Clemson over 40.  There is obviously work to be done.  Seriously though.  How many fans around the country of teams other than UVA say things like "aw man, they got to 40" on a semi-regular basis?

So halfway through the ACC's regular season, the Hoos are 6-3.  I'll take it.  There are some couldas, but I'll take it.  The second half will be tougher; it features Miami on the road, Duke at home, and four home games against five road games.  Upcoming this weekend is the third most difficult of those five: the enormously sized Maryland Terrapins.  Boo this team.

-- UVA on offense

You can start to see the cracks appearing in the depth, as is only fitting when we're trying to have a good season over here.  With both Mike Tobey and Darion Atkins out against Clemson, Tony Bennett had no choice but to go even smaller and try out Taylor Barnette in the rotation.  Barnette's defense is behind that of his teammates, hence his spotty presence on the court, but you can't knock his shooting.  He's brought a little instant heat off the bench in each of the last two games now, shooting 3-for-4 from three-range against Clemson.

This is a fortuitous development that we need to keep up.  We've got no hope whatsoever of matching Maryland's size; they're the second-biggest team in the nation.  Without Tobey and Atkins, our inside options are limited to Akil Mitchell and maybe driving the lane.  The consolation is this: outside of Alex Len, who you know all about, Maryland isn't much of a shot-blocking team.  It's probably not wise to drive with Len sitting underneath the basket, but even big, beefy backup center Shaquille Cleare isn't an inordinately great threat to swat a shot.  But they do tend to a nice job of altering shots; Maryland's two-point defense is 2nd-best in the country, and they stay out of foul trouble very well.

That means bombs away.  So it's not necessarily the worst thing ever to add another shooter to the rotation.  I would even advocate a five-shooter lineup of Barnette, Jesperson, Harris, Anderson, and Nolte (ok, four and a half) when Len is on the court, if that didn't leave the prickly question of who would guard him.  Chances to shoot will definitely appear, as Maryland doesn't aggressively defend the perimeter and doesn't try to clog your passing lanes.  Like UVA, they sort of invite you to swing the ball around the outside and dare you to try and drive, just for different reasons.  In Maryland's case it's because their bigs for the most part aren't too comfortable when the basket is too far away,

I'm a little nervous about the idea of going up against such a big team, especially on the road, because it makes the three such a necessarily big part of our game.  (Also, it would've done Tobey a lot of good to get the experience of going against Len on the road.)  UVA should be able to keep up the recent trend of staying out of the turnover column, but everything basically depends on whether the threes are falling.  The total interior dominance we saw against Clemson is going to dissipate pretty quick among the Maryland trees.

-- UVA on defense

Obviously this whole discussion has to start with Alex Len again.  He's a formidable dude.  Len's a classic European big man, which is to say he's pretty comfortable away from the basket.  Like Tobey, he likes jump shots.  Even so, the thing to do is keep him the hell away from the rim, because he's actually a much worse two-point jump shooter than Tobey is.  Let him near the rim and he's shooting 73%, much of that on putbacks because he's also a nasty-good offensive rebounder, obviously.  On two-point jump shots he's only at 32%.  I'll take those odds all day.

Because of their size, Maryland actually really likes those two-point shots from everywhere.  The slow but steady trend in hoops lately has been to make shot charts look like bullseye targets; that is, the ideal mix is three-pointers and layups.  You don't get any extra credit for jumpers at the elbow, but they're less likely to go in than layups.  Maryland goes against that trend because their size makes them tough to defend when they take shorter jumpers, and it sets up their rebounders to put back their misses.  They're one of the country's elite offensive rebounding teams.

Dez Wells and Jake Layman are the best at hitting the two-point jumpers, and Layman is a fair three-point shooter too.  Layman has been finding his way into the starting lineup lately.  He's a little like Evan Nolte - tall and tough to defend, but not especially strong.  Wells lays off the three-pointer mostly but does a lot of scoring by hitting jumpers in the lane or getting to the rim.

Besides size, Maryland is also notable for the size of their rotation.  Mark Turgeon has no problem rolling ten players in and out.  He's also had no problem tinkering with the starting rotation, being rather unsatisfied with his point guard play of late.  Nick Faust, for now, has taken over those duties.  He played the point last year out of necessity and here he is again, as Turgeon has tired of Pe'Shon Howard's somewhat random ways.  Seth Allen isn't quite ready for the starting job either, and so Turgeon turns to Faust as a calming influence.  Howard and Allen still get their chances off the bench, but Howard is starting to see his minutes disappear as he's a crummy shooter and not much use if he's turning the ball over too much for Turgeon's liking.

Since there isn't much three-point shooting here, Maryland uses Logan Aronhalt off the bench when the defense needs loosening up.  Aronhalt is the Terps' only really dangerous three-point shooter, and he only gets about 12 minutes a game but he shoots a ton when he's in, averaging almost 11 attempts per 40 minutes.  To put that in perspective, Joe Harris would have 184 attempts if he shot that much (and would be 7th in the country in 3-point percentage since right now, he doesn't qualify.  Frickin' NCAA pacists.)

Plus, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that besides Len, pretty much all the other Maryland bigs can get it done offensively.  James Padgett, Shaquille Cleare, and Charles Mitchell aren't really the focus of the offense, but none of them are stiffs.  So with all this size, why isn't the Maryland offense completely unstoppable?  Mostly, undisciplined guard play and turnovers.  They can definitely be coerced into a turnover, and since they don't get any on defense they tend to badly lose the turnover battle.  They're not as patient as they should be on offense, either; working the ball inside and shooting fewer threes would benefit them.

-- Outlook

Maryland's size is formidable, but their 5-5 record is a little deceiving.  Other than a one-point home win over NC State, their wins are built up on the ACC's dregs: VT twice, BC and Wake once each.  But they've protected their home court, with a three-point loss to FSU their only blemish in College Park.

UVA will probably win this game if the threes are falling.  They will lose and lose badly otherwise.  That's what it comes down to.  The kind of size we have - especially without Atkins and Tobey - is mainly useful for shutting down teams with normal-sized guards, not for dealing with a rotation chock full o' bigs.  Maryland's guard play isn't great, but I would expect Turgeon to try and force mismatches by putting multiple bigs out there to minimize UVA's backcourt advantage.  Joe Harris and Evan Nolte guarding Padgett and Mitchell could be an ugly sight.  Given UVA's tendency to go cold on the road, the odds are not in our favor.

Final scored: Md. 55, UVA 49


Anonymous said...

Ball pressure will be key in this game. MD doesn't really have a solid point guard, and if we can pressure them up the court, we may have a chance. It's going to be a "small ball" game, with us in a mid-major role, spreading them out and playing quick, tough defense. Nolte's shot needs to fall - as our stretch 4, he can cause problems for them if he's got good positioning and is hitting his shot on offense. Akil needs to be aggressive - Alex Len can be tentative at times.

I'm not going to predict a UVA win, as it's just tough to see (Tobey really would've helped), but we can win. It's a big game, not a make or break game, but with all our bad losses, we can't afford many more, and knocking a rival ACC bubble team down can only help us.

Anonymous said...

Gotta beat the Terps. I really want this one. I hope Anderson in particular comes ready to play.

pezhoo said...

You called it, if the 3 pointers fall, we win. Awesome game, awesome win. Now to follow it up at home with a win over Jughead. At least it's clear to me now what was holding this team back...Mike Tobey!

Anonymous said...

pezhoo, I hope you're being sarcastic about the Tobey thing, because I don't think today's performance was exactly something we want to replicate. Nine times out of ten if we give up 69 points we are not going to win with the way our system runs. And developing an near-ambidextrous seven footer is actually pretty awesome, even if he is still really young and really raw.

That said, I'm really happy we got this win. Go Hoos!