September 21, 2019

Maryland Basketball: Five Takeaways of Terps Season Opening Victory over Mount St. Mary’s

{Photo by: UMTerps)

{Photo by: UMTerps)

The highly anticipated Maryland Terrapins basketball season has finally started! The #3 ranked team in the country, their highest ranking since after winning the national championship, took care of business against Northeast Conference favorite Mount St. Mary’s Mountaineers. After a sloppy first half, Maryland cruised in the second half to a 80-56 victory against a respectable opponent.

Turnovers continue to be a concern

In the Terps lone exhibition game of the year, Maryland committed 20 turnovers as they looked to try and go for the home run ball too many times. Early on, the Terps were falling into bad habits caused by poor entry passes into the post where Mount St. Mary’s fronted most of Maryland’s bigs. After starting the game with assist-to-turnover ratio of 6 to 8, Mark Turgeon seemed to make a good correction midway through the first half. The Terps would go on to the finish the game with a 9 to 6 ratio, in which two of the turnovers were committed by emergency point guard Varun RamRobert Carter led the team with 4 turnovers for the Maryland, again much of them coming off of big to big passes to the post. The three ball handlers of Melo TrimbleRasheed Sulaimon, and Jaylen Brantley combined for a mere 4 miscues in 69 minutes of play.

Variety scoring will make it tough on defenses

We got a taste of this in the exhibition, but Maryland has too many scoring options for defenses to cover. All starters, except Sulaimon, and Jared Nickens got into double figures. To Sulaimon’s credit, who head coach Mark Turgeon called the team’s best passer, the Duke transfer finished with a team high five assists. When the smaller Mountaineers doubled down low, the likes of Nickens (3 of 5) and Jake Layman (2 of 4) would beat them from beyond the arc. Turgeon called it the “way it is meant to be” on the even scoring distribution.

Defending the three ball

Besides turnovers, the Terps were much closer than they would have liked much in part to the Mountaineer’s three point shooting. As if they were playing a small ball lineup in the NBA, Mount St. Mary’s took a ridiculous amount of threes. In the first half, Mount St. Mary’s shot 7 of 19 from beyond the arc for over two-third of their points. Maryland made the adjustment at halftime of not going under ball screens and held the opponent to just 3 of 14 shooting in the second half.

Getting adjust to life without Dion Wiley

Mark Turgeon explained that JUCO transfer Jaylen Brantley would see his minutes increase most directly to Wiley’s surgery to repair his torn meniscus. Because Sulaimon’s services were needed more as a ball handler, Brantley actually played most of his 16 minutes at the shooting guard position. Although not overly active in the box score, Brantley’s hustle was loved by his coach and teammates. Until getting rested at the end of the game, Trimble, Sulaimon, and Layman were on pace to finish with well over 30 minutes played on Turgeon has one less player to utilize. Sulaimon said postgame that “nothing changes” without Wiley, but the team will play even harder for their “fallen brother”.

Preparing for Georgetown by getting off to the right foot

For one last time in live game action, the Terps were able to work on multiple set plays before a tough task against Big East contender Georgetown Hoyas. Maryland was not perfect, but they did enough to avoid an early stumbling block against a likely NCAA tournament team. Turgeon was successful in handing a team that will “win a lot of games” their first loss, but knows things only get tougher from here. The head coach explained that because they were not together much this summer, they still have much room to improve, which they do everyday. Maryland hosts the Georgetown Hoyas for the first time since 1973 on Tuesday, November 17th at 9 PM on ESPN2.

About Neil Dalal

Neil Dalal is a Staff Writer for District Sports Page covering the Redskins, Wizards, and Maryland Terrapins. Neil grew up in Silver Spring, MD and attends the University of Maryland. Neil has loved everything related to the Redskins, Wizards, Capitals, and Terrapins since he was eight years old. However, he favors the Orioles, as he started watching baseball before the Expos moved to DC. You can follow Neil on Twitter @NeilDalal96.

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