Welcome to our next edition of "The Five," where we take a look at five trends from Maryland from Maryland's worst loss of the season, 85-61, to Florida State on Jan. 12 at the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center in Tallahassee, Fla.
Terps Lack Toughness
Across the board Maryland showed very little fight against Florida State, save for a brief stretch to start the second half. The frontcourt with Shaq Cleare and Charles Mitchell were a step slow all night as FSU seemed to corral every "50-50" and loose ball. Meanwhile, Seth Allen (one point), Roddy Peters (seven points, three turnovers), Nick Faust (14 points) and Evan Smotrycz (nine points, four turnovers) failed to consistently attack on the offensive end, opting for timid, tight half-court basketball instead of taking it hard to the rack. Mark Turgeon said one of the keys to beating FSU's rugged defense was going right at their bigs before kicking out to the wing or drawing a foul, but the Terps did neither.
Defensively, Maryland as a whole didn't push through ball screens or aggressively hawk FSU's shooters. Thus, the Seminoles ended up hitting a 2013-14 ACC-record 16 3-pointers, led by Ian Miller's six treys.
One particular sequence served as a microcosm for Maryland's play Jan. 12. After Miller (20 points) drilled his team's sixth 3-pointer to make the score 28-17 at the 5:41 mark in the first half, Turgeon called a timeout to stop the bleeding. But all Miller did was drill yet another barely-contested trey 30 seconds later, while Okaro White (15 points) followed with a 3 of his own 40 seconds after that. After White's dagger, the Terps seemed to hang their heads, their energy completely sapped. The game was basically over after that, the Terps lacking the gumption to offer up a counterpunch.
Maryland's big men Shaquille Cleare, Charles Mitchell, Damonte Dodd and Jonathan Graham (I do not include Evan Smotrycz in this group) only combined for seven field foal attempts. What's worse? They made just one. Granted, the big men have done little to prove they deserve more shot opportunities; they need to be involved in order to balance the offense. Against FSU they simply ate up space in the paint and left their defenders to clog the driving lanes, adding little value on either end of the court.
The most disturbing stat regarding the bigs was rebounding. Maryland's four post players combined for a TOTAL of 12 rebounds. Mitchell accounted for half of those. Cleare had just two rebounds, the same number as Dodd, who played significantly less minutes. Rebounding is about effort and heart, and the Terps showed little of either.
Failure to Adjust
Florida State's 3-point shooting was probably not a primary focus on Maryland's scouting report. After all, coming into the game the ‘Noles were shooting just 31.2 percent from beyond the arc. But when a team comes out hitting 3s like Florida State did, it is completely unacceptable to not adjust. The scouting report is not to blame for the Terps' abysmal effort at playing perimeter defense. Florida State didn't just get on a hot streak during one stretch. Maryland had ALL game to attempt to make a change, and instead they gave up16 3s.
If your man just hit two 3s in a row, how about rotating quicker, fighting through screens and hedging on shooters outside the arc? This team has too many talented players who have played far too much basketball not to make in-game adjustments.
With about 10 minutes left in the second half Jay Williams (easy, easy I know he's a Duke-y) made a great point. He said that at some point the leadership has to come from someone else other than Mark Turgeon. As a former collegiate athlete, I know there are times when all you hear is yelling from your coaches, but when your teammate comes over grabs you by the jersey, holds you accountable and gets in your face…yeah, that will get you going. If Dez Wells is going to call himself the leader of this team, he needs to show it. Not by Instagraming pictures with his teammates, or sending out a thoughtful tweet -- he needs to stop being their friend and start being a leader.
The Sulking Effect
The players on the court were not the only ones lacking toughness. Midway through the second half the camera panned Maryland's bench and the body language, facial expressions and energy was absolutely terrible. Every player sat, head down shoulders slumped…and these were the guys on the bench, not the ones making the errors on the court. Energy, enthusiasm and effort -- these are all things you can control. I don't care if you are down 30 or 300, the bench of all places should be a source of energy that can keep a team fighting when they are down.
I chose to stay away from the technical issues in tonight's game because honestly I think they all point back to these five fundamental points. Do Maryland's guards know how to drive to the hoop without picking up a charge? Yes. Do they know how to rebound? Yes. Do they know how to play defense? Yes.
It comes down to the "want to" and right now it is not clear whether or not this team has it.
The Five: What I Learned After FSU
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