To be fair, New Years resolutions don’t REALLY start until January 2nd. You know, after you’ve spent a full 24 hours sweating out the river of alcohol that fell into your mouth on New Years Eve. Maybe you soaked an enormous gummy bear in a bowl full of well vodka, sliced it up and ate it like Carpaccio. Maybe.
I’m sure the Maryland Terps would love to forget the end of 2013. After an error filled but promising season opening loss to UConn, the basketball team has been about as consistent as a tray of jello shots. There’s obviously some bad news (the inability to find a consistent big man, a few glacially slow starts), but with ACC play starting in two days, the Terps can atone for a bad two months in the blink of an eye with plenty of quality opponents on the horizon.
So, four New Year’s resolutions for Maryland to try and right this ship:
Simple and to the point. There are plenty of contributing factors to my body feeling like an industrial waste dump today, but chief among them is the gummy bear. I’m an idiot, let’s move on.
He’s starting to get the minutes he deserves, so I’m a little late to the party here, but Jonathan Graham’s effort is starting to get rewarded with some well deserved PT. Although ESPN’s profile of him looks like a file from the Bourne Identity, Graham is no longer a no name bench guy. He’s certainly not the most skilled big in the world (that award would probably go to Mitchell), but in college, getting offensive production from your big man is really a bonus. Graham’s defense is something he can provide that Cleare and Mitchell haven’t really been able to, and it’s something that this team desperately needs. With Seth Allen back, Mark Turgeon has an abundance of scorers at his disposal. What he needs is interior defense. Graham isn’t the end all be all in that department, but he’s definitely the best available option and as a result should see his minutes increase unless Mitchell or Cleare really make a midseason leap.
Obviously with Seth Allen back, this is going to improve, but that’s still not an excuse for the fact that Maryland has four games this season where they had 10 or fewer assists as a team. That’s an incredibly low number, and obviously ball movement creates better looks for everyone on the floor. Iso’s are nice when everyone’s hot and the basket looks huge, but more often than not they stagnate the offense and can create long cold stretches. Again, Allen’s return can really flip this around (even though he’s definitely more of a scoring guard than a true point), but it needs to change. Isolation play guarantees a few great looking wins when everyone’s got the midas touch, but it’ll definitely create more ugly losses. This is a team that has really grown up together the last two years, it’d be nice to see that relationship manifest itself on the court.
Last season, Maryland went 6-3 at home in the ACC, and 2-7 on the road with some really ugly losses (the Miami game was close until the end, but it was just a debacle of a basketball game). There is nothing that can stand out to the selection committee like a road win against a big time team. From the end of last season until now, this Maryland team has pulled off a few solid road wins: at Alabama in the NIT, a de facto roadie against Duke in the ACC tournament, a win at “better than you think” BC. If Maryland can knock of a few of the big boys in conference play, it could boost the tournament profile in a hurry. Especially with Allen just getting back (the committee will definitely take that into consideration if the team plays well with him), Maryland can wipe the slate clean pretty quick with a win at say Pitt (a notoriously raucous environment) later this month.
So those are my Maryland New Years resolutions. Even with a few bad losses, I still believe this team is too talented to miss the tournament, let’s hope that they can show that’s the case in the coming months.
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