Who: Maryland Terrapins at Florida State Seminoles
What: A second shot at the Seminoles, and another chance at an elusive road W
Where: The Donald L. Tucker Center in Tallahassee, and on ESPN3
When: 8:00 PM
New format time everyone. Since this is the second time the Terps are playing Florida State, you should already have a pretty good idea of what this FSU team looks like (from either watching the game or reading my first preview). So to switch it up a little bit, I’m going to give a quick refresher on what happened in the first game, what the opponent has done since then, and three keys on how Maryland can end with their hand raised in the grudge match.
When we last met:
This is particularly bitter one. When Maryland and Florida State played at the Comcast Center on January 9th, the Terps were polling through the roof. They were fresh off a beat down of Virginia Tech, and even at halftime looked like every bit of an NCAA tournament team. And then for the first time this season, we saw a full-on Harvey Dent moment from Maryland. The offense went completely in the tank, and the basketball seemed to slip through their fingers almost as quickly as the lead. When the dust settled, the Terps had effectively snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, and the ‘Noles walked out of College Park with a win and ton of Maryland’s tournament credibility.
How did it happen:
If you’ve watched this team all season, you probably just mumbled something along the lines of “f*$#ing turnovers, that’s how”. And the only solace you have is that you’d be right. The Terps have lost the turnover battle in every ACC game they’ve played thus far and FSU was no different as they committed 18 and only forced 15.
Another number to look at is free throws. I mentioned this in my last preview, but early in the schedule, Maryland got to the line whenever they damn well pleased. Since the start of the ACC schedule, they’ve been infrequent visitors only registering 14 against the Seminoles 23 in the first contest. A big reason for that low number is that according to the stats and the referees, Florida State’s interior defense bordered on perfection. They blocked 13 Terrapin shots in that game (for perspective they average 5 per game on the season). Watching that game, there were some definitely questionable no calls on a few of those, but it still falls on Maryland to be able to force fouls when they get the ball in the paint.
If you read what I wrote about the last game, my primary concern wasn’t FSU leading scorer Michael Snaer, it was their stretch four Okaro White. Now Snaer didn’t necessarily have a bad game, he just took himself out of the game with foul troubles. White, on the other hand, was the bane of Mark Turgeon’s existence down the stretch. He got to the bucket at will, and was instrumental in two decisive FSU rebounds that helped to all but seal the game up. Someone will need to lock White down tonight, and my vote is for Alex Len. I know that FSU can come with size (they do have three seven footers), but none of those big guys are very talented. I’m much more comfortable letting Boris Bojanovsky take awkward hook shots on Cleare or Mitchell than having either of those options act as a human turnstile for White.
Since we last met:
That win over Maryland made FSU 2-0 in the ACC and seemingly catapulted them back into contention in the conference. It didn’t hold up long. Since beating Maryland, Florida State has lost three games (vs. UNC, @ UVA, @MIA) and they’ve looked UGLY. The only real silver lining loss was at home against a desperate UNC. In the losses to UVA and Miami (granted, two of the better defensive teams in the country) the Seminoles didn’t break 50 points. The loss to Virginia in particular was “the blacked out girl playing beer pong” bad, pairing a 3/8 day at the free throw line with a 1/15 performance from three. No starter scored in double digits, or grabbed more than 5 rebounds.
White (last 4 games: 9.8 ppg, 3.5 rpg) and Snaer (last 4 games:8.2 ppg, 29% 3pt) are both in funks right now, and without those two guys, this team isn’t going anywhere. Interestingly enough, in Florida State’s lone win since Maryland (home vs conference cellar dweller Clemson) it was big man Kiel Turpin leading the team in points and field goal attempts.
3 ways to turn the tables:
Take out the shooter:
On their trek down Tobacco Road, Maryland ran into two lights out shooters (Reggie Bullock and Rasheed Sulaimon) that essentially outplayed the whole Terps team in the course of one half. Plain and simple, that cannot happen tonight. The guards need to do a better job of getting around screens to contest FSU’s best shooter. That man would be Michael Snaer, who although he’s been cold recently, is an All-ACC talent capabe of a Bullock or Sulaimon-esque game (5/10 from downtown vs. Charlotte earlier this season).
Dictate the pace:
Truthfully, I have no idea what pace Maryland should play at right now. If they play slow, the opposing guards pressure the primary ballhandlers into mistakes. If they play quickly, they’re prone to some not very hilarious hijinks on the fast break. For tonight, I would lean towards upping the tempo. There’s nothing more frustrating than watching Howard or Faust get trapped out by halfcourt and throwing the ball away. Plus, there’s the added benefit of maybe being able to catch the ‘Noles off guard with an uncommon uptempo attack.
Control the boards:
I swear I’ll get more creative with this one next time, but it’s been a long day (the same reason that this preview is getting posted an hour before tip). The Duke game was the first time in ACC play that Maryland looked more hungry on the boards. Charles Mitchell was an absolute beast in limited time (7 rebounds in 13 minutes, 6 offensive). Wells was a fixture underneath early on, and Len played his size. Outrebound Florida State by 10 tonight, and there’s a chance that the Terps can return the favor that FSU gave them three weeks ago.
Florida State is in a rut right now, and although it was still a sloppy game, I liked the energy Maryland played with last time out versus Duke. I think FSU lacks the firepower to put distance between themselves and the Terps early, and Maryland flat out destorys them on the boards in the second half on the way to an ugly first road win.
Maryland – 66 Florida State – 58