Five Thoughts On Maryland’s 77-57 Win Over Northwestern

Maryland 77, Northwestern 57Since all of the teams that I root for are perpetually disappointing, I’ll start with the negative:

Eventually, some team is going to make those early threes

This team has a bad habit of not being fully invested in the game early. I’d prefer this issue to an inability to close games, but it’s an issue nonetheless. By their standards, Northwestern had a brutal shooting night from long range. Reggie Hearn and Drew Crawford, usually particularly effective from deep, shot 3/11, and the team didn’t break 25%. As the game wore on, those misses were more a result of solid perimeter defense. But early on they were just open misses. Despite the final score, Maryland was clinging to a two point lead at the half due to lackluster defense and sloppy basketball. Eventually, this team is going to have a very impressive first half, I just haven’t seen one yet.

Maryland has a recession proof offense

It’s fun to see a team that is full of knockdown shooters, because on nights they’re on they can absolutely light up a scoreboard like a spread offense in football. But, as plenty of Duke teams can tell you, there’s going to be that rare night when all of the engines fail at once and that’s when blowouts happen. Mark my words: Maryland’s astounding ability to rebound is never going to go away. I can’t remember the last time I saw a team so thoroughly dominate an opponent on the glass. Northwestern had THREE offensive rebounds! There are more talented frontcourts, but you can count on one hand teams with the front court depth the Terps have. Charles Mitchell and Shaq Cleare would start for a bad ACC team, and they’ve both become effective pieces off the bench. Mitchell’s motor is never ending, and Cleare’s work in practice shows in his noticeable improvements every game. The guards (Wells, Faust, Howard) had 14 rebounds between them last night. If there’s one thing I can say about this team, it’s that they’re the best rebounding Maryland team I’ve ever seen.

Logan Aronhalt and where he fits

I’m still very skeptical with Aronhalt because his 3-point percentages at Albany were good not great, but he’s converting me every game. When the Wildcats switched to a last ditch 1-3-1 last night, the Terps needed a zone buster and Aronhalt provided, and that is where Aronhalt fits on this team. Obviously, this team is at its most effective going Howard-Faust-Wells-Padgett/Mitchell-Len. That lineup is devoid of outside shooting, and will definitely compel future opponents to adopt the zone in an effort to prevent inside scoring. That’s where Aronhalt belongs because he can only really play one position (SG), and he adds little else to the offense.

One more step to take for Len

I said it on Twitter last night, on a team with top-25 talent, Len is head and shoulders above everyone in every way. Unfortunately, in the first half Len was an afterthought mainly because he made himself one. He struggled to get good post position, got pushed around a little bit, and played with reticence unbecoming of a guy with his skills. Everybody in the country now knows that Len has bloomed as an elite talent, but what separates an elite talent from an elite player is confidence bordering on selfishness. When Maryland’s offense is floundering like it was in the first half, Len needs to post up, stick his hand in the air, and DEMAND the ball. He showed just how unguardable he is to open the 2nd half. Against a fellow 7 footer, he knocked down a 15 footer, a beautiful half spin push shot in the paint, and a blow by baseline dunk in three possessions. Obviously 13/13 with 3 blocks is nothing to sniff at, but the day Len’s confidence catches up to his ability, he will be terrifying. Like win games by himself, double team out to 15 feet, 20/20 terrifying. Let’s hope that day happens before April.

Great game for Dez, but it was set up perfectly for him

Through effusive praise, I’ve made it pretty obvious that I’m a huge fan of Dez Wells’ game . Obviously the box score numbers jump out, but in a game that was an athletic mismatch from the tip, Wells was the ideal weapon. There wasn’t one person on the floor that could stay in front of Dez, and almost all of buckets were easy layups at the basket. It was a very impressive performance, but one that will be difficult to replicate against more athletic and overall better ACC defenses.