What Went Wrong: A Closer Look At Maryland’s 65-62 Loss To Florida State

Maryland Terps fall 65-62 to Florida StateWell that was not an enjoyable game now was it? After the Terps built up a 9 point first half lead and expanded it to double digits early in the 2nd half, they proceeded to completely lose any semblance of an offensive identity and frittered away a very winnable home game. I was angry last night (and a little bit drunk from trivia), and nearly posted a rant about how a tournament team doesn’t lose to a bad team like that. But I would’ve been wrong. My favorite Terps team (2009-2010) lost to William and Mary at home. These things happen to all but the very best.

So instead, I woke up this morning, took a deep breath and some Advil, reattached my sober face and rewatched the entire second half. There were definitely problems, but now that I’m not all pissy and emotional, I can dig in and do an efficient and accurate autopsy of what caused the Terps to expire early in the second half.

Turnovers

Big surprise here. Anybody with eyes can take a look at the box score and see that big ugly 18 in the TO column. But the more important thing is to know what caused the turnovers that lead to lost possessions and easy FSU transition buckets.

Seth Allen was the biggest culprit, who committed three of his five turnovers after halftime. Two of them came in rapid succession on bad and terrible post entry passes. Allen’s decision making in general has a ways to go at the point guard position. In high school, he was the main scoring option for his team, and you can see that he’s struggling to adjust to a more distributive mentality. There were times where he opted for tough contested layups over hitting an open cutter on his way to the basket. He did the same thing on a 3 on 2, taking it himself when there was easy basket if he just passed the ball. I think Allen’s a smart kid and he’ll get better, but if he doesn’t significantly improve on the fly, the lack of a consistent backup PG could be damning to the Terps tournament hopes.

The other main source was Dez Wells, who a few posts ago I mentioned was beginning to develop a turnover problem. One that sticks out was Wells driving baseline and throwing it back out to no one at the top of the key. He also tried to snap one into Mitchell and overshot him by about 2 feet. As electric as he his, there are times like last night where you wish Wells would play a little more in control. There was some good to go with his performance, but overall he just needs to rein it in a little bit.

Transition Defense

This was bad all second half, and FSU could’ve been up by plenty more if they made some open shots. In the half court, Maryland has some good pieces (Wells, Len, Faust) and some bad ones (Allen’s biggest weakness is his defense, same with Mitchell). But for whatever reason, this whole team is lost in transition. They’re routinely slow to get back, Len in particular committed one or two bad fouls on fast breaks that lead to and one’s.
When they do get back, there’s not enough communication about where everyone should be on the floor. There were several times where FSU would push it up the floor and Maryland would get back but there would be a wide open shooter somewhere on the floor. I’m sure this didn’t go unnoticed by Turgeon, and communication is definitely something that comes with playing together, so this issue should correct itself more than the others.

Lack Of Offensive Identity

This issue worries me the most. When it hit the fan last night, Maryland didn’t really have a coherent plan for how to get baskets. They went 7 minutes without a field goal at one point, and judging by the shots they took that made sense. A lot of contested mid range jumpers, threes from Pe’Shon Howard, and really tough contested layups. Those three things are probably the three worst ways to attempt to get points on the board.

Everyone and their mother knows that Len needs the ball more, and it’s a two way street. The guards need to do a better job of getting it to him and Len needs to do a much better job getting position (there were multiple possessions where Boris Bojanovsky just fronted him for the duration). The entry passes were poor last night, and a possible fix could be taking it to the basket and dropping it off to Len when his defender sags. Wells did it well twice, and Faust and Allen both have the athleticism to get the to basket at will.

One more thing that confused me: Logan Aronhalt barely touched the ball outside of one really nice elbow three off a screen from Padgett. He’s in there to shoot, and Maryland couldn’t buy a bucket last night: why not run more plays for Aronhalt after he makes one?

Rebounding

Okaro White wrecked the Terps interior in the last 7 minutes of the game. Last night was really the first time I thought Maryland got thoroughly outworked on the boards. On two straight big possessions, they forced contested threes that were missed. The first time, Faust failed to box out Michael Snaer, who grabbed the ball off the floor and hit White for a dunk and one. The next time, White was surrounded by three Terps underneath, and outfought all of them on his way to the free throw line.

Rebounding is usually the trump card that Maryland has over all of their opponents. If they get outworked there, they’re suddenly a very average team that will very rarely break out a great shooting performance like at VA Tech.

All frustrating issues, but mostly correctible ones. It will be very interesting to see if Maryland can offset this bad loss by posting a 2-1 record in the three tough games coming up (at Miami, vs. NC State, vs. UNC).