Welcome to our next edition of "The Five," where we take a look at five trends from Maryland's 74-66 win over Notre Dame at the Comcast Center on Wednesday Jan. 15.
I am still not 100 percent convinced of Charles Mitchell's arsenal of post moves, but he was the catalyst in Maryland's come back last night. Despite collecting 20 offensive rebounds Maryland struggled to close around the rim finishing with just 10 points. The Terps trailed 31-34 with about 15 minutes left in the game when Mitchell starting cleaning up on the offensive class. Evan Smotrycz made an aggressive move to the hoop, but missed three-straight shots before Mitchell finished the play. On the following offensive possession, Mitchell again capitalized off a miss, turning Seth Allen's missed layup into two points to cut the deficit to one. After a Garrick Sherman jumper, Mitchell once again bodied up down on the blocks and shot a soft hook from the middle of the lane to keep the Terps within one. Mitchell didn't turn into Jordan Williams or Lonny Baxter down there, but it was a step in the right direction.
While Mitchell did a stellar job of cleaning up the trash in the second half, I was most impressed by the second play of the game. Shaquille Cleare got the ball down in the paint, recognized he was too far from the hoop, kicked it back out to Layman on the wing, sat down low and demanded the ball back. He proceeded to take three power dribbles, backing his man down on the blocks for an easy bucket. Even more impressive, Cleare didn't celebrate or pat himself on the back after the play, he hustled down the court and sent Pat Connaughton's layup out of bounds with a thunderous block. Although he was relatively quiet for the rest of the first, with five minutes left in the second half , Cleare again show his ability to execute a post move, spinning around his defender, making the short jumper plus the foul. Granted Notre Dame doesn't exactly have big bruisers down in the paint, that was the first time I have seen that from Cleare the paint since the Paradise Jam Tournament in St. Thomas. If they can get more production from Shaq and Charles it would open a world of options up on the offensive end from driving lanes to three point shots.
All's Well That Ends (with) Wells
Dez Wells has to have the ball in his hands more on offense. He has the ability to change the game, and that was evident in the second half. Despite a rocky start, Wells is such a threat when he gets into the paint that teams have to shift their focus to stopping him. In the second half Wells attacked the rim, and went hard and the numbers speak for themselves. He scored all 17 points in the second half got to the line six times. His aggressiveness put Maryland in the double bonus with seven minutes remaining which certainly helped them secure the win down the stretch.
Connaughton torched the Terps in the first half, hitting 5-of-7 from the floor and 3-of-4 from beyond the arc for 15 first-half points. In the second, Turgeon made the defensive switch, putting Faust on Connaughton. The change not only allowed Wells to focus on his offense, but Faust limited Connaughton to just four points in the final 20 minutes. I am not ready to crown Faust a defensive stalwart by any means—after all Connaughton did play a full 40 minutes Wednesday night—it was an improvement from Sunday when he continued to let Ian Miller pad his stats. Faust cannot let his offense dictate his defense, he must put forth his full defensive effort each night or he simply isn't helping much on the court at this point.
Attacking in Transition
Maryland still only managed to score four fast break points against Notre Dame on Wednesday. At times, this team seems to lack a sense of urgency in transition. They almost seem afraid to push the pace and attack the rim. With Allen back, Wells shouldn't be afraid to run with in when he gets a defensive rebound or has numbers. When Wells was running the point, the offense looked out of control when he tried to run in transition but with Allen back he can attack the rim. If things get too sloppy, they can go back to Allen to slow and settle the offense back down.
The Five: What I Learned After Notre Dame
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