Thursday, December 26, 2013

season preview: Maryland

Media prediction: 7th of 15

Last season:

Record: 25-13 (8-10); ACC 7th seed
Postseason: NIT 2 seed; lost in semifinals
KenPom: 48th of 347

Returning scoring: 63.5%
Returning rebounding: 59.5%
Returning assists: 63.5%

2012-2013 all-ACC:

1st team: none
2nd team: none
3rd team: none
HM: C Alex Len
Defensive: none
Rookie: C Alex Len

(Italics indicate departed player.)

Starting lineup:

PG: Roddy Peters (Fr.)
SG: Dez Wells (Jr.)
SF: Jake Layman (So.)
PF: Evan Smotrycz (rJr.)
C: Shaquille Cleare (So.)


G Nick Faust (Jr.)
F Charles Mitchell (So.)
F Jonathan Graham (Jr.)
G Varun Ram (Jr.)

Coach: Mark Turgeon (3rd season)

ACC schedule:

Twice: Florida State, Pittsburgh, Virginia, Virginia Tech
Once: Boston College, Clemson, Duke, Georgia Tech, Miami, North Carolina, NC State, Notre Dame, Syracuse, Wake Forest

Last season, Maryland was a bottom-of-the-bubble team that lacked anything close to resembling a signature win outside the conference; the best they could show the committee was an ACC tourney win over Duke (as well as home wins over the same and NC State.)  Wasn't nearly enough.  This year looks much the same, except, throw in some bad losses too.

Personnel losses have hit Maryland heavier than average.  Alex Len is off to the NBA, glue forward James Padgett and sharpshooter Logan Aronhalt have graduated, point guard Pe'Shon Howard transferred to USC, and sophomore PG Seth Allen is out for a couple more weeks with a broken foot that's caused him to miss the first half of the season.

Maryland has had to try and make a go of it with freshman point guard Roddy Peters, since Nick Faust long ago proved himself not a point guard and Dez Wells isn't well-equipped to play the one either.  It's been up and down; Peters has both an assist rate and a turnover rate in the mid-30s, high numbers both.  The Terps also give a few minutes here and there to juco transfer Varun Ram, minutes which are more or less wildly unproductive.

It hasn't helped that Faust has been missing the target with his shots far too much, which has banished him to the bench.  Wells is a quality scorer, but until Allen gets back, for now he's the only consistent threat in the backcourt.  Where Maryland is dangerous is in their perimeter-oriented forwards.  Jake Layman and Michigan transfer Evan Smotrycz both stand 6'8" but are outside sharpshooters and bring a scoring mentality to the court.  Smotrycz's game at Michigan saw him drifting outside far too often, but he's been a more well-rounded player at Maryland with more rebounding chops.

Maryland also gets good contributions from Charles Mitchell and center Shaquille Cleare.  Cleare is undersized for a center but is a passable shot blocker; his size (only 6'9") gets him beat on the boards fairly often, though.  Mitchell isn't a primary scoring option but chips in often enough to open up the floor for the others.  Cleare helps make Maryland a decent shot-blocking team; Layman and Wells get good numbers there as well since they're almost always taller than their assignment.  Freshman forward Jonathan Graham only sees a few minutes a game, but he too is a blocker of shots; almost one per game despite averaging less than ten minutes.

Barring a miracle run in the ACC, the Terps have probably already blown their shot at a tourney bid.  The NIT looks like a very likely destination.  If the maxim is true about the ACC being a guards' league, they'll probably struggle some in conference play, too.  But they've got plenty of frontcourt scoring, and some of those guys can fill it from anywhere, making them a very difficult matchup at times.  Their 8-10 ACC record from last year is a solid starting point which they should be able to surpass by a game or two, and take a run at an NIT championship after getting to MSG last year.


Anonymous said...

We're pretty much in the same boat as Maryland last year. It's safe to say that while the Tennessee game won't make our tourney bid, a loss, barring a dominant ACC run, may bust our bubble this early in the season.

The thing is, with our playing style, we aren't going to blow many folks away. Yet, we rarely get blown out. All three of the losses were winnable games, games where we had a shot (obviously, VCU and Wisc-GB moreso than Wisc). The fact that we lost those games, by itself, doesn't bother me that much. The fact that we've lost all our major games non-conference wise, though, makes this Tennessee game so huge. I've got to imagine that Joe, Akil, Darion, and Malcolm are aware of the significance of this game.

Brendan said...

If we don't mess things up too badly in the ACC we should be in much better shape than Maryland was. They had three wins away from home all season last year. (Four, but one was in DC that I doubt the committee counted as a "real" neutral floor.) Their ACC play didn't help them out at all, too many losses to teams below them in the standings. We should be able to at least double their road-win total (got three away from home already and it's not even January) and yes, the Tennessee game looms very large for our resume, but Maryland played such awful teams last year, hardly ever left home, and bungled the ACC portion of the regular season. I'd say we're in better shape - not great shape, but better than their 2012-13 shape.