Who: Maryland Terrapins vs. Stony Brook Seawolves
What: A game against a surprisingly dangerous pack of wet dogs
Where: The Comcast Center or ESPN3
When: 8:00 PM
Line: +/- .5 times I reference the Grey
TERPS BASKETBALL IS BACK! These past 9 days have seemed like a nuclear winter. It’s been that long since Maryland slipped, stumbled, and almost face planted out of the gates against Monmouth before hitting their stride in the second half and putting away a bad team. Remember when I said Maryland had two obstacles in their way before conference play (Northwestern and George Mason)? Well it turns out I didn’t give enough credit to the Stony Brook Seawolves. Stay with me here…
Who is Maryland playing?
A team from New York with a mascot fit for a Liam Neeson sequel, but I’m just going to call them the Stoners. The Stoners (8-2) have feasted on cupcakes (7-1 vs opponents ranked outside KenPom’s top 200) and struggled with the only serious task put in front of them (a 73-62 loss to UConn). They’ve won the America East regular season title 2 of the past 3 seasons (with no actual marquee wins), but that still probably counts for something. They’re the 4th opponent the Terps have played ranked in KenPom’s top 100 (barely at #99). So basically what I’m saying is, for the first time in a few weeks, there’s a very small chance of an upset happening.
The Stoners exceptional trait is how much they hit the glass. That effort is spurred on by a senior and a freshman. Senior Tommy Brenton is an undersized forward who hails from just a few exits up I-95 in Columbia. He leads the team in rebounding with a robust 8.5 per game, and also leads the team in assists by a wide margin with 4.8. Throw his 2.2 steals per game and you might as well slap “Elmers” on the back of his jersey. He may not be the number one scorer on this team, but considering Stony Brook doesn’t really light up the scoreboard, he’ll be the most important person to contain.
Jameel Warney is a more traditional 4 at 6’8”, and really seems to be coming into his own in the last 6 games (13.5 ppg, 8.5 rpg). Similar to James Padgett, Warney is a cinch to finish around the bucket (64.9 FG %), but a coin flip proposition at the free throw line (56.1 FT %). If this game does end up being close, watch to see whether Warney is left on the court with a flaw that becomes eminently more noticeable in the closing minutes.
I usually mention the team’s leading scorer as the number one threat, but guards in particular have really struggled against the Terps, which is why I believe Anthony Jackson (13.2 ppg) could be in for a rough night. Johnson is a short scoring guard that runs hot (20 points on 70% shooting vs Cornell) and cold (10 points on 30% shooting vs Sacred Heart). Maryland’s size at the guard spot should allow them to blanket Jackson and force him into difficult shots.
Is there a chance Stony Brook could pull this off?
Not a great one, but with how Maryland’s been playing you never know. A horrendous first half in the mold of the Monmouth debacle would almost definitely yield a halftime deficit versus the Seawolves. After all, even though they lost at UConn, they did hold a halftime lead before getting hammered in the second half.
Stony Brook is a solid defensive team (37.5 opp FG pct, 30th in NCAA), and they should provide a decent (if undersized) rebounding test for Maryland. Again, I believe that if the Terps play a clean game (10 or fewer turnovers), they can beat some of the premiere teams in the ACC. But the Jekyll and Hyde Terps could definitely get a scare from a fundamentally sound Stony Brook team if they can’t rein in their mistakes.
Three things to watch for:
First Half tailspin
I really can’t emphasize it enough, the team needs to start playing for keeps in the first 20 minutes. I’m tired of seeing Mark Turgeon grit his teeth through the halftime interview. 16 first half turnovers against a completely unimposing Monmouth team is completely unacceptable. With shooters starting to step forward, and a solid team performance from the charity stripe last game (15/19), first half turnovers are the most obvious chink in the shell of this team. Time to clean it up before the ACC games.
What’s Faust’s identity?
I’m on the record as saying that I believe Faust is most effective as a slasher and not a shooter. However, last game he was a very solid 3/7 from deep. One of three things is going to happen in this game: A) Faust regresses back to shooter we’ve seen all season (26.5 3pt %) while taking way too many threes, B) Faust stays hot and develops into the shooting threat that I didn’t see coming, C) Faust finally attacks the basket and only takes one or two threes. From what we’ve seen this year, my bet would be “A”. I would love to be wrong, but there are so many moving parts in that shooting motion I just don’t know how he can develop into a consistent outside shooter.
Taking the free ones
As I said in the first note, the 15/19 performance from the line was a welcome surprise from a Maryland team that only has one 80% free throw shooter on the team (the trigger shy Pe’Shon Howard). With their customary size advantage on the interior, the Terps will get their opportunities from the stripe. Another 70% performance would be a good omen for more competitive games down the road.
Maryland – 72, Stony Brook – 59