Welcome to our next edition of "The Five," where we take a look at five trends from Maryland's 83-71 victory against Florida State Feb. 8.
Deny, Deny, Deny
Maryland came into the Florida State game ranked a respectable eighth in the ACC with just over six steals per game, but against FSU it looked like Juan Dixon and Steve Blake were back on the floor. The Terps came up with nine steals and forced 16 Seminoles turnovers, many the result of Jake Layman, Seth Allen, Dez Wells and even Nick Faust getting their hands in passing lanes. Granted, the Noles were last in the conference in turnovers, and they lack a true point guard, but Maryland's defense deserves credit for its intensity and will.
Jake Layman, as I mentioned in my postgame defense story, had arguably the play of the game when, with FSU mounting a late charge, knocked the ball away from Devon Bookert; raced down the floor; and then hit the deck in order to corral the loose ball. A minute later, Maryland had the victory in hand.
Layman actually set the tone, however, right out of the gate. With FSU leading 3-1 less than two minutes into the game, Maryland's sophomore wing snagged a Michael Ojo pass, and took the ball the length of the floor before finishing with a crowd-igniting dunk.
Steals and sticky fingers often lead to easy transition opportunities, and Turgeon has said time and again great defense helps the offense. It would behoove the Terps to continue the defensive intensity moving forward.
The Extra Pass
The Terps are not a great passing team and actually rank among the bottom three teams in the conference in assists per game. Even against FSU, they managed a dozen dimes, which is OK but not exactly Tyler Ennis-esque. That said, Maryland moved the ball Feb. 8 maybe better than they had in any other ACC game this season. Except for a couple instances (see: Roddy Peters, who played three minutes and was immediately yanked for jacking up a shot 10 seconds into the shot clock), UMD made the extra pass, worked the ball around and looked for the best available shot.
There was one play in particular that stood out to me. Early during the game, with Maryland ahead just 24-19, Dez Wells drove and kicked out to Jake Layman in the corner. But instead of tossing up a 3 with an FSU defender closing in, Layman threw a skip pass over to Seth Allen, who was wide open. Allen proceeded to drain the trey, spurring the Terps on an 11-2 run.
Wells, in particular, did a good job distributing, finishing with six assists as he found open outlets in transition; fed Allen for a couple timely 3s; and even worked the ball down low to Charles Mitchell when the defense moved out to the perimeter.
One game after looking slow in guarding North Carolina's Marcus Paige, sophomore Seth Allen stepped up in a big way against Florida State. Yes, he scored a career high 32 points and drained 7-of-10 from 3-point range, but don't overlook his defense. Allen mostly stayed with his man, rotated well and flashed active hands in coming up with a pair of steals.
He said after the game his lateral movement suffered the most after his foot injury, but against FSU he looked light and quick. With 1:38 left in the first half, he anticipated a Montay Brandon pass, stepped into the lane, got his hand on the ball, and came up with the steal.
Allen did have a couple lapses, such as when he didn't close fast enough on Devon Bookert, who drilled a 3-pointer late during the first half, but for the most part the point guard was dialed in. He played a team-high 35 minutes and didn't look particularly winded at any point during the game.
But we'll see if that continues heading forward against the ACC's best teams. Allen warned in the postgame press conference that, "I'm not going to say I'm back after one game."
Smotrycz Has Issues
Pretty much every Terp that played significant minutes Feb. 8 made a positive contribution, but forward Evan Smotrycz has seen better days. In 19 minutes he finished with four points (all from the free-throw line), shooting 0-of-4 from the floor and 0-for-3 from 3-point range. He had one rebound, two turnovers and three fouls, often looking a bit lost and/or slow on both ends of the floor.
Smotrycz did have two steals, but that didn't really make up for the lack of defensive toughness. For whatever reason he looked tired and lethargic, and there were a couple times he failed to fight through a screen or close quickly enough on an FSU shooter. He also didn't hit the glass hard enough, especially in the first half, when Maryland as a whole was annihilated on the boards.
This is becoming a trend of sorts, and Smotrycz needs to pick it up or it's going to be difficult for Turgeon to justify inserting him into the starting lineup. Maybe he needs the Nick Faust treatment (Turgeon makes him ride pine, and he responds by playing better) to get it going.
As I mentioned above, Roddy Peters only saw three minutes against FSU, and it's clear that Mark Turgeon isn't particularly pleased with the way the freshman is playing right now. Before the game, Turgeon was rather abrupt when Peters' name was mentioned, and the coach simply said, "he needs to get his confidence back."
Confidence is one thing, but how about wits? Peters seems to do one of two things whenever he's on the floor: a) bring the ball up and take on the entire defense as he charges to the rim or b) bring the ball up and look to shoot as quickly as possible (which got him pulled from the FSU game). He plays like a bull in a China shop, driving out of control into a crowd of defenders. He has to realize he's not at Suitland anymore.
In general, Peters hasn't developed into a great distributor yet, and he doesn't seem to have that sixth sense where seasoned point guards just know when and where their teammates are coming open. In the offseason, court vision should be one of the main areas he works on.
Defensively, Peters loses his man too often and doesn't always recover when screened. Against FSU, in the brief three minutes he was on the floor, Peters was out of position when Aaron Thomas canned a 3-pointer as FSU drew within striking distance in the second half.
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