July 23, 2017

Maryland Basketball: Terps lay an egg in the second half, end season in embarrassing fashion to Kansas

For the first time since 2003 the Maryland Terrapins are in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament. Now it was up to former point guard for the Jayhawks, Mark Turgeon, to lead the Terps to a win over his alma mater Kansas. After a first half that saw the Terps play some of their best basketball in months, fans were optimistic for a second half upset bid. Maryland was far from that as they got blown out by the number one overall seed. Melo Trimble struggled again, the offense was atrocious, and rebounding was again optional. It might not be a disappointing season, but Maryland did not take full advantage of their talent by falling 79-63 to Kansas.

(Photo by: @ESPN)

(Photo by: @ESPN)

Defensive intensity from Maryland leads to exciting first half

Veteran Perry Ellis got his with twelve points in the first twenty minutes of play, but the Maryland Terrapins had a stretch early in the game that showed the nation a glimpse of how good they can be defensively. Kansas was 1 of their last 13 and scoreless over a 5 minute and 20 second stretch. Maryland got their largest lead of the game of six before the Jayhawks broke their drought, but the number one overall seed was certainly having fits offensively. The first half was intense with seven lead changes, an indicator of the back-and-forth action.

With game hanging in the balance Terps shy away instead of taking control

Following a game-tying, thunderous dunk from four year senior Jake Layman with 17:36 left in the game, the Maryland offense went into garbage mode. Maryland had just one basket in five of the following minutes that allowed Kansas to rattle off a 9-0 run and never look back. The Terps had two field goals during a nearly 14 minute stretch as they continued to settle for contested jump shots instead of aggressively driving to the hoop. Kansas went two and two and half minute stretches without scoring when Maryland was within six and seven respectively, but the number five seed had no show of emotion in trying to fight back.

Struggling from beyond the arc makes it surprising that Maryland made it this far

Over their past two games, the Terrapins shot a miserable 14 percent from beyond the arc (6 of 43). Although Maryland has only shot the ball well three times since conference play started nearly three months ago. Besides home wins against Ohio State, Illinois, and Nebraska in the Big Ten tournament, the Terps have not shot better than 44 percent from beyond the arc in a 24-game span. All of this starts and ends with point guard Melo Trimble who has underwhelmed during this 2016 calendar year is 3 of 24 from beyond the arc in the past four games as he refuses to aggressively take the ball inside where he is considerably better at 14 of 31 (45.1 percent). After setting the record for lowest shooting percentage in a tournament win against Hawaii, the woes caught up with the Terps today by missing 80 percent off all bonus sphere shots they put up.

Say goodbye to Jake Layman, Rasheed Sulaimon, Varun Ram and possibly many more

What we know for sure is that the Terps three seniors that saw meaningful minutes this year will not be back for the 2016-17 campaign. Out of Melo Trimble, Diamond Stone, and Robert Carter Jr, it is unsure if any or all will return. With the new NBA draft rules, all will likely declare and attend the combine but can decide to return to school 10 days following the scouting event. Stone has tanked out of the lottery and Trimble is not even a lock to be a first-round draft pick. Carter is a second-round pick at best and the most likely of the three to return. My best guess is that all three return, a drastic turn of events from the beginning of the season, which would allow Maryland to contend next season.

What is next?: A way too early look at next season

Mark Turgeon is bringing in a solid recruiting class with Anthony Cowan, Kevin Huerter, and Micah Thomas, but none of them are of the same caliber as Diamond Stone and Melo Trimble so their hype as a freshman should be tempered. Worst case scenario is that Maryland loses their entire starting lineup from this season and are set to start from scratch with a young and inexperienced core. That lineup would look a something like this:

PG: Anthony Cowan, Jaylen Brantley

SG: Dion Wiley, Kevin Huerter

SF: Jared Nickens, Micah Thomas

PF: Damonte Dodd, Ivan Bender

C: Michal Cekovsky

This team will certainly make you cringe during the season, but has a shot to make the NCAA tournament and make some noise should they start to gel at the right time (unlike the current team). Maryland would have to find another big man to bring in to fill out the rotation should they lose Stone and Carter. The key for the Terps is to continue bringing in highly touted recruits for seasons to come to keep the machine going and show this season was not an anomaly.

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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