Welcome to our next edition of "The Five," where we take a look at five trends from Maryland 's 74-71 win over Miami on Wednesday Jan. 29 night at the Comcast Center.
Sophomore center Shaquille Cleare started 18 of Maryland's 21 games, including the previous six before last night's game against Miami. Cleare's production has been disappointing as of late, or well pretty much all season. He hasn't had more than five rebounds, and he has only scored in double-digits once this year. In case you are wondering why you don't remember seeing Cleare on the court Wednesday, it's because you didn't. He played just one minute in Wednesday's win, as Turgeon opted to go for Penn-State transfer Jonathan Graham, in the starting lineup and rotated Damonte Dodd and Charles Mitchell before opting for a smaller line up.
Post Problems Continue
After the game Mark Turgeon was asked about his decision to start Jonathan Graham in place of sophomore Shaquille Cleare. His response? "I'm still searching…I am absolutely searching."
Turgeon's response was fitting given the lack of production Maryland has gotten from its big men.
Graham went scoreless and only hauled in two rebounds in his second career start as a Terp. Freshman Damonte Dodd had a bucket and a rebound. Mitchell had two points and two rebounds, but it was not a particularly good night for the Georgia sophomore. He missed a number of shots from point-blank range, and fumbled clumsily when he did attempt to execute post moves down low. Even though Maryland pulled out the win, but they still managed to get out rebounded 30-24 and had just four offensive rebounds. They might be able to sneak past Miami with those numbers, but those stats won't cut it against tougher conference opponents.
A Diamond in the Rough
While Dez Wells' second half performance stole the spot light, his classmate Evan Smotrycz was the unsung hero of the night in my book. Smotrycz went 5-for-7 from the floor, and went 3-4 from 3-point range to go along with three rebounds, four assists and two steals. After Wells picked up his second foul less than five minutes into the game, Smotrycz took over. He drove to the rim, took smart shots from long range, and dished out four assists. He also won a few bonus points for his hustle. After a particularly ugly Faust turnover, Smotrycz sprinted back and blocked Rion Brown's layup (although he was called for the foul, Brown only made 1-of-2 from the line), all while Faust hung his head on the other end of the court.
Starting the Movement
One noticeable difference last night was Maryland's ball movement on offense, something the Terps have struggled with all season. There was a conscious effort to move the ball with sharp, quick passes that caught Miami out of position and left Maryland's shooters with wide open looks. Maryland hit 56 percent of its shots (28 of 56), including a strong second half where they shot nearly 70 percent. In fact, Maryland was moving the ball so effectively and getting open looks that it forced Miami to abandon its zone midway through the second half.
Reading Between the Lines
After the game Turgeon said, "I think everyone is growing up slowly, well not everybody, but most guys are."
After watching last night's game, I think Nick Faust might be behind the learning curve on this one.
Not only did Faust force quick shots at times, he was sloppy with the ball, and unforgivably lazy getting back after turning the ball over. Maryland led 22-20 in the first half when Brown picked the ball from Faust, who subsequently dropped his head and stood at the top of the key and watched as Evan Smotrycz hustled back to prevent an easy lay up. Faust's second turnover led to a Miami 3 at the end of the half, that would've sent the ‘Canes into the break with a 29-28 lead had it not been for a Seth Allen 3-pointer at the buzzer. Faust's third turnover also resulted in three points for Miami, as Davon Reed made a lay up and a foul shot following his steal. The play sparked an 11-4 run and turned a six point Maryland lead into a one-point deficit with just over eight minutes to go. Not only is Faust turning the ball over, but his mistakes are costing his team on the scoreboard. Miami had 12 points off 10 Maryland turnovers and seven of those points came specifically off of Faust's three giveaways.
Then came the kicker, with just 56 seconds left Faust fouled Rion Brown as he went up for 3-pointer. I get it mistakes happen but this is the second time in three games Faust has fouled someone taking a three. Against Pitt, he fouled Lamar Patterson as he went up for a 3. The play helped the Hurricanes come back from a 10-point deficit before Wells bailed the team out with his late 3-pointer.
The Five: What I Learned After Miami
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