Terps Handle Marist, Plus Turgeon Video
ST. THOMAS, U.S. Virgin Islands -- After giving up 90 points to Oregon State, Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon decided he needed to make a change. When the starting lineup was announced for the Terps' first-round game against Marist in the 2013 Paradise Jam Tournament, it was junior wing Evan Smotrycz who drew the short straw. Turgeon opted instead for freshman point guard Roddy Peters, who made his first collegiate start in Maryland's 68-43 victory.
"I took Evan out because he just didn't play well against Oregon State and we decided after watching film that we needed to make a change and that was it. That was the decision we made and we stuck with it," said Turgeon of Smotrycz, who scored just four points Friday night. "Roddy was excited [to start], but he was more excited when he banked the 3. He played well, he goes into fifth gear too many times. He has to be a little bit smarter, but he is getting better defensively."
As for the future, Turgeon wouldn't reveal whether or not Peters would get the start again on Sunday, when the Terps face Northern Iowa.
"I don't know what we are going to do Sunday, but don't ask me," Turgeon said. "We are going to do something different and I am going to try and play the guys who are playing the best. But I do know this: If Dez [Wells] is going to play some point then he's gotta play better at point than he did tonight for us to be successful."
The change in the starting lineup did help defensively, as the Terps held Marist to just 43 points and only allowed 13 in second half. The Red Foxes shot just 26 percent for the game and had only one player score in double digits.
Junior guard Nick Faust has been tagged as the Terps' defensive stalwart, and he managed to hold Marist's leading scorer, Chavaughn Lewis, to just 4-of-13 shooting and six turnovers. In addition to Faust, the Terps got solid minutes off their bench, providing some much needed depth to help boost the defense. Most notably, walk-on guard Varun Ram, seeing extended minutes due to the starters' early foul trouble, provided a spark with his intense defense.
"We thought 40 was a good player and Nick [Faust] was the one guy we wanted to guard him and Nick did a fantastic job with him," Turgeon said. "I thought our bench was phenomenal. I thought Varun [Ram] gave us great minutes, Damonte [Dodd's] length helped us around rim.
"[Varun] helped us a lot. You talk about deflections, he had a couple of steals out there, there were some loose balls he came up with, some scrum plays he's right in the middle of it. I thought Varun was terrific; I really did and we need him. We gotta build depth and Varun's gonna be part of that depth, and Damonte's going to be part of that depth. We are trying to build it and I thought we built it tonight, but we are going to be playing against better competition on Sunday. So well see if the depth can help us on Sunday too."
Said Ram: "I felt like I had to come in and do my role. When guys are in foul trouble, I come in and execute, help us get into our offense, try not to make many mistakes, make smart plays, make simple plays."
Maryland's rotation went well beyond the starting rotation. Nine different Terps played over 10 minutes against Marist, and eight of those played 17 minutes or more.
"If you're going to build depth you can't be afraid to play no matter what the situation is. Things weren't going well, but I have to have confidence in all the guys I'm playing," Turgeon said. "I thought I tried to show that with my substitutions tonight. The thing is we weren't great, but the good thing was defensively were pretty locked in almost every possession. And we were really good around the rim, which we haven't been. I know they aren't a great scoring team but we held them under their average, and we really guarded coming off a 90 point game against Oregon State. So to guard this way felt good."
Turgeon has stuck by the Terps big man Shaquille Cleare, despite his disappointing start to the season. Cleare finally turned a corner against Marist. While his numbers were not flashy, he finished with eight points, five rebounds, two assists and a steal.
"I've been working hard in practice, I just had to get over the hump," Cleare said. "Coach was saying, ‘You're getting a little frustrated. Things haven't gone the way you're capable of. Just keep working hard, and things would start dropping for me. That's what happened tonight."
Cleare finally looked confident in the low post for the first time this season. He came out at the beginning of the second half with a dunk, and found Dez Wells on a skip pass on the next possession for a much needed step in the right direction.
"I think obviously since this season started [this is the best Cleare has played] maybe it's the island deal," Turgeon said. "I was really happy for him. He was really aggressive. That big kid [Adam Kemp] is really good for them and I thought Shaq did a nice job on him throughout the game, and kind of wore the kid down.
"It was good to see Shaq finally play a good game and be a little bit of a force in there."
Maryland only managed to score 68 points, with the offense once again having to rely on sophomore Jake Layman for much of its spark. Layman scored a game-high 16 points on 6-of-13 shooting and drilled a number of timely 3s (he was 4-of-6 from beyond the arc) that allowed the Terps to distance themselves in the second half. Charles Mitchell came off the bench to score 12 points and grab eight rebounds.
However, Turgeon isn't concerned with the team's offense, which stagnated during the first half going against Marist's zone. The Terps missed 18 of 27 first-half shots, and Wells, who was in foul trouble, failed to score.
"I was disappointed in our offense, but guys we haven't really worked on our man-to-man offense because Oregon State zoned us for 40 minutes and then we were so bad defensively that we had to work on defense," Turgeon said. "So I had a feeling we were going to struggle offensively tonight, and we did. In the second half we executed a little better and passed the ball a little better, but if we can continue to guard like that we can overcome bad offensive nights which we were able to do tonight."
Next up for the Terps (after they go snorkeling in the morning) is Northern Iowa, a team Turgeon is familiar with from his days back at Wichita State. The Panthers beat Louisiana Monroe, 90-81, in the first game of the day to advance to a second round showdown with the Terps at 7 p.m. on Sunday.
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