Maryland Basketball: Time For The Leopards

Maryland-Lafayette previewIn honor of having to pack for a four hour drive up the Jersey Turnpike and the weakest Maryland opponent yet, this preview will embrace the concept of brevity.

Who: Maryland Terrapins vs Lafayette Leopards
What: Yet another easy home game
Where: Comcast Center
When: 8:00 PM
Line: You’re betting on this?

Do Leopards actually live in Lafayette?: Maybe. I still can’t figure out whether mountain lions are actually leopards. If they are, then yes.

Gotta watch out for:

The three-point line. Lafayette embodies two of the small mid-major stereotypes. They don’t rebound that well (negative rebounding differentials in all four games), and they love shooting threes (they’re averaging just under 24 attempts per game). If you notice the announcers continually struggling to pronounce a name, that’s Joey Ptasinski the Leopards primary gunner who’s shooting the long ball at a 43% clip this season. The other offensive options are Seth Hinrichs, a 6’7” slasher who shoots well from deep (8/20 this season) and even better from the line (18/21). Senior point guard Tony Johnson was out with a back injury most of last season, but this season he’s been getting to the basket easily, and has been a great distributor in every game outside of Kentucky (0 ast, 5 TO vs UK).

Now after all of that, the one player who could definitely throw a wrench in Maryland’s plans is sophomore Aussie Dan Trist. Trist missed Lafayette’s last two games with an ankle injury sustained before the Kentucky game, but when on the floor he’s been as productive a scorer as the Terps have seen. In a 98-94 OT win vs LIU Brooklyn, Trist was 14/18 from the floor and finished with 30 points. In the season opener against St. Francis he was 7/7. He doesn’t provide much else (totaled 5 rebounds and 4 assists in those two contests) but he’s certainly adept at getting his buckets. At 6’9”, he does provide a possible matchup problem for the Terps IF HE PLAYS.

Is this actually going to be a game?

Without Trist, definitely not. With Trist…still probably a no. The Leopards can definitely shoot, and they share well (17.0 assists per game), but this is another team Maryland should destroy on the boards. For a little perspective, Pe’Shon Howard is averaging more rebounds per game (4.7) than anyone on the Lafayette team (Hinrichs leads at 4.25).
In terms of defense, Lafayette somehow ranks worse than LIU’s dreaded “wet paper bag” defense. Opponents are making a ridiculous 52 percent of shots against the nearly extinct Leopard defense, and Alex Len will again have a 4 inch height advantage on anyone guarding him.

Lafayette could make some shots early, but barring a healthy Trist and a truly otherworldly shooting display, this should be another convincing Maryland win.

Three things to look for besides a win

Is this the game where Nick Faust finally gets it going?
I understand it’s early in the season, but outside of Kentucky everybody has feasted on the inferior competition besides Faust. He’s really the only one who didn’t tear up the LIU defense, and I think he’s still in the process of figuring out what his role is with Wells now being the designated slasher and go-to guard. I’m just hoping for Faust to look decisive and more comfortable as the two tougher games get closer.

Will Seth Allen be more of a spot up shooter?
Allen has shown a quick first step and ability to finish around the rim, but his value to this team probably lies in his shooting ability. If Turgeon agrees, expect to see Allen in spot up situations to follow up on his impressive marksmanship from the LIU game.

Will Lafayette release live leopards on the court as a last ditch effort to turn the tide?
There’s probably nothing in the rule book about it, so it could be in play. Really, there’s not much more to say about this game. A good shooting day from Lafeyette could make the first half interesting. If they can’t knock down those outside shots, all of the other numbers would portend this to be a bloodbath.

Prediction: Maryland 85, Lafayette 65

Patrick Guthrie is a University of Maryland alumnus, co-host of the BSR Podcast and contributor at BaltimoreSportsReport.com. You can follow him on Twitter @patguth321