Welcome to our next edition of "The Five," where we take a look at five trends from Maryland's 61-53 loss to Virginia Feb. 10 in Charlottesville, Va.
When the Game is on the Line…
Maryland trailed 54-50, and had a shot to make it a one-possession game with about a minute-and-a-half left. Logically, one would think "get the ball into the hands of the best player on the court," meaning Dez Wells, right? Instead, it was Evan Smotrycz. Turgeon drew up the play, and Smotrycz was wide open with a chance to knock down a game-saving trey. Unfortunately, neither of his two open looks made in the net. The plays, those worked. The shooter? Questionable. Maryland's most dynamic player, Dez Wells--the one who drained a game winning 3-pointer against Miami just a few weeks ago---didn't even get a touch.
Freshman point guard Roddy Peters has played limited minutes over the last several games. When he has been on the floor his performance has been somewhat, well, concerning. The trend continued last night when Peters came in the second half with the Terps trailing 35-33, and just under 13 minutes left.
Wells hit a jumper to tie the game at 35 just before the media timeout, and when play resumed, Peters looked somewhat lost on the offensive end. Wells took the lead at the point and Peters seemed to wander, looking unsure of himself as the offense shifted into neutral and the shot clock expired. Normally, your point guard has the court awareness to recognize the shot clock winding down, however, right now Peters is thinking so hard he has seemingly lost his court sense and game awareness.
After the shot clock violation, Nick Faust blocked Malcolm Brogdon's layup, and he hit Peters in the open court for what should've been an easy layup. Or at least that is what Peters thought; Virginia sophomore Justin Anderson had other plans. He swiftly slapped Peters' layup off the glass spurring a fast break that led to a Joe Harris 3-pointer that brought the packed house at John Paul Jones arena to their feet.
Turgeon called a timeout and quickly got his point guard Seth Allen back in the game, but the damage had been done. Virginia scored the next two baskets to cap a 9-0 run and the Cavaliers never looked back. Seth Allen can't play a full 40 minutes every game, and Peters has to be stable enough not to melt down every time he steps on the court. Freshman year is a journey for most players, there is a lot to absorb, but the remainder of the season this will be a true test of Peters' mental toughness.
Although Peters stock is trending down, the good news is Seth Allen continues to improve as he gets closer to 100 percent. Allen seems to have an innate sense of time and score that his teammates lack. For instance, sophomore Jake Layman still struggles to balance when to pull the trigger, where Allen seems to know exactly when to attack the rim, make the extra pass or take an open three. He still could do a better job of getting his teammates involved, although aside from Wells, there is not really another consistent option can be trusted not to fumble a pass or turn an assist into a turnover.
Virginia's big men Mike Tobey, who played 18 minutes and Akil Mitchell, who played 34 minutes, combined for just one foul and one turnover playing smart, solid defense down in the paint. They boxed out well, fronted Maryland's postmen and altered shots. On the other hand, Charles Mitchell had three turnovers, four fouls and just one bucket in 23 minutes. Mitchell's turnovers are major momentum killers, and all three of his against UVA came with the two teams separated by no more than three points. In a close game where every possession counts, Mitchell can't be fumbling the ball around, giving the opposition extra opportunities. Furthermore, Mitchell's lack of solid post defense and no sign of weak side help often leave him hacking away at opponents, sending them to free throw line for more scoring chances.
Meanwhile, Shaquille Cleare managed to pick up two fouls in just 11 minutes, while corralling just one rebound. Cleare has not shown any offensive prowess, so for him to have a positive contribution he needs to hit the defensive glass and at least keep solid position underneath. He didn't do that particularly well against UVA; at the 13:10 mark, after UMD turned the ball over, Cleare compounded the problem by hacking Akil Mitchell instead of going straight up and altering the shot. Mitchell drew the foul and canned a free throw to give Virginia a 35-31 lead.
Getting to the Line
The Terps only shot eight free throws last, often settling for jump shots rather than embracing the contact. There were also opportunities for players to catch their defender off balance—Wells is acutely aware of these situations drawing fouls when he catches his defender off balance. On the other hand, a jump stop and a ball fake by Peters on his fast break lay up would have likely resulted in a bucket and a foul, rather than a block a fast break three for the ‘Hoos. Virginia had just 11 personal fouls, compared to the Terps had 19. Part of that is the aforementioned lack of post defense or weakside help, but you have to be aggressive to even be in a position to get fouled. Last night Virginia had that edge.
The Five: What I Learned After Virginia
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