Who: Maryland Terrapins at Boston College Eagles
What: A game to prove that Maryland can handle success
Where: The Empty Nest in Chestnut Hill and the ACC Network (Channel 54 in MD)
When: 9:00 PM
Maybe one day I’ll be able to mature into a full-blown adult and give you guys consistent, timely game recaps. I’m still working on it. But that day hasn’t happened yet, and it certainly wasn’t going to happen after a Saturday night victory over Duke. Instead I reveled in a way much more socially acceptable at age 24 than it will be at age 34.
There’s plenty to take from Saturday’s win – Alex Len finally reasserting himself, Seth Allen’s rollercoaster ride of a game, Pe’Shon Howard’s absence and its impact. But what I keep coming back to is something that I’ve thought about this college basketball season as a whole: it’s time to stop expecting perfection.
Maryland committed a “Turgeon hair-graying” 26 turnovers Saturday night. They shot an unremarkable 4/13 from three. It was far from a perfect college basketball game. But they were money from inside the arc at 60%. Alex Len played like the Alex Len announcers talk about instead of the one that’s been on the floor the past month. And the supporting cast was Oscar Caliber (bench scoring; Duke – 18, Maryland – 26). It’s not going to be pretty at times, and it might never be perfect this season. But Saturday proved that Maryland, even with all of their imperfections, is capable of hanging with the big boys.
It’s time to move on everyone. Move on to games that are more boring and henceforth more dangerous for Maryland. Games like tonight against a Boston College team that’s not only much better at home, but has some seriously underrated talent (Anderson and Hanlan are both great players).
Maryland fought off a legitimate challenge from a game BC team to win 64-59. After being tied at halftime, the game stayed within two possessions for the majority of the second half until the Terps used a 12-1 run to gain some distance from the Eagles.
Unsurprisingly, Hanlan and Anderson were responsible for 37 of the 59 points scored by BC with Lonnie Jackson knocking down 3 three’s as the only other meaningful contributor.
Maryland’s composition has changed quite a bit in the short time since the last matchup. Mitchell started in the first game, Padgett more than likely will take that spot tonight. Nick Faust was the point guard du jour for Turgeon, it’s now moved to a pairing of Seth Allen with a little bit of Dez Wells sprinkled in.
The most important difference I see is that Boston College took 5 more free throws than Maryland in the first matchup (17-12). Yesterday on the College Basketball Podcast with Andy Katz and Seth Greenberg, Turgeon mentioned he’s been emphasizing free throws recently, and the results are tangible. In their last three games, the Terps are averaging 25 free throw attempts per game. Mark my words, BC will not take more free throws than Maryland tonight.
Since we last met:
The Eagles have been flying low, with a 2-5 record. The wins came over fellow awful ACC teams Clemson and Wake Forest, both of which were at home. In BC’s defense, those losses are made up of 3 tough road games (at UVA, at Miami, at FSU) and two home losses to the blue bloods (UNC and Duke).
Number one option Ryan Anderson has been good since the first Maryland game, but good just hasn’t cut it. He scored 19 points in his visit to College Park, and hasn’t eclipsed that number in any of the last 7 games. Anderson is one of the best boring players I’ve seen all year: he doesn’t have any above the rim acrobatics or any particular attribute that draws your eyes to him. But he just takes a makes a bunch of good shots, and he works hard on the glass. When you start to notice his contributions, that’s when he’s already got 12 and 5.
The other major threat is Hanlan, a freshman with a little bit of flash and even more substance to his game. His 14.2 ppg rank 10th in the ACC with the next freshman (Rasheed Sulaimon) coming in at 27th. Hanlan’s game is similar to Seth Allen’s: he’s got a really quick first step and when his shot doesn’t fall, he’s good enough from the line to make up for it (11/12 FT vs Duke). He’s a shoot first, shoot second type of player whose only other strength is rebounding for his size (7 REB vs Maryland the first time out).
Nobody else has really jumped out for BC. Joe Rahon’s the freshman point guard, Lonnie Jackson can shoot it from deep, and Dennis Clifford was the resident big guy who got dominated by Alex Len last time out. As a team, the Eagles are surprisingly careful with the ball for such a young team (11 TOpg). They’re good from three (34.7%) but seem to drifting more towards attacking the basket and utilizing their collective ability to knock down free throws (71%). Maryland should attack inside with Len to open up the outside where BC allows opponents to shoot 38.1%, and that should just about do it for the Eagles.
Three things to watch for:
A commitment to defending the three:
To me, this was one of two reasons that Maryland walked out of the Comcast Center Saturday with a win. Duke still took their threes, but they shot a subpar 6/19. Maryland’s D did a great job of running Duke’s shooters off the three point line, and because of that the Blue Devils were forced to take contested shots. Only a red hot Seth Curry had an answer for Maryland’s stifling perimeter defense.
It was almost jarring to think that this was the same team from the previous game against Virginia. In that game, the Terps looked almost disinterested in closing out on Cavalier shooters. Virginia saw the open looks, and obliged by knocking down 11/19 money balls including more than a few that squashed some burgeoning Maryland runs.
At this point, it should be pretty clear that one of the Terps major weaknesses is their inability to dig themselves out of holes. Boston College isn’t a great outside shooting team (34.7%, 7th in the ACC), but they’re not a bunch of bricklayers either (Lonnie Jackson at 39.9% is a great example). The three pointer is the great equalizer for underdogs, and Maryland needs to make sure it’s not tonight.
Getting to the stripe:
On the aforementioned radio show with Andy Katz and Seth Greenberg, Mark Turgeon had a great/concerning Terps stat. Maryland has only reached the bonus before their opponent in one game this season. Now getting their first is one thing, but before Saturday, Maryland had trouble getting there at all. In conference games, they’re still 8th in the ACC in free throw attempts even after Saturday’s barrage.
Free throw shooting, similar to rebounding, should be a huge advantage for Maryland. The size on the interior combined with the ability of the guards to get to the rim should yield 20 free throws per night at a minimum. Against a team that’s as size deficient as BC (not counting Dennis Clifford, because why would I count Dennis Clifford) that number should be even higher tonight.
What is the best role for Dez?
I get that Dez had a line of 9/7/7 against Duke. I get that his +/- was +10. I still think Dez is the second best scoring option on this team, and that he should be taking more shots than the 5 he took against Duke. More often than not, him taking a shot (with his absurdly high 53% FG percentage) is the best option during a possession. It’s nice that the bench scorers and other players stepped up against Duke. But this team needs him to be more of a scorer, and hopefully he’ll fill it up tonight against BC.
If he doesn’t, I am interested to see how he’ll function as a point guard. He turns it over way too much for my liking (so does every prospective point guard on the team I guess), but there’s no denying how great he is at getting to basket and thus creating for other people because of his athleticism.
After the NC State win, Maryland went on the road to UNC and got waxed worse than Steve Carrell. And what made it worse is that it was less about how well UNC played, and more about how completely unprepared and discombobulated the Terps were coming off a big win.
BC’s not as good of a team, and I think Turgeon has definitely mentioned that UNC loss to this team at least 1,000 times today. Maryland destroys an undersized BC on the boards on the way to making the Duke win stand up.
Maryland – 73 Boston College – 64