Welcome to our next edition of "The Five," where we take a look at five trends from Maryland's 71-60 victory against Wake Forest Feb. 18 at the Comcast Center.
Peters is Starting to Look like a Point Guard
There were critiques aplenty surrounding Maryland's freshman point guard this season, from his ball-handling issues to his tunnel vision to his jump shot to his defense. But in the last two games, first against Duke and then Feb. 18 versus Wake Forest, Peters has made strides, albeit in limited floor time.
After putting together a solid four-minute effort guarding Duke's Quinn Cook, Peters responded with one of his best passing game of the season. Playing extended minutes in place of a somewhat ineffective Seth Allen, Peters racked up three assists, his most since the ACC opener against Georgia Tech, and had just one turnover.
There was one play that showed me Peters is starting to "get it," and it came with 3:51 left in the first half. Like he's done so often this season, Peters bulled his way down the lane, taking on seemingly the entire defense. But instead of going up with a heavily-contested shot, he jump stopped in the lane and dished off to a wide-open Nick Faust in the corner, who proceeded to drain the 3-pointer.
Then, about 1:30 later, Peters hit the offensive glass and corralled Dez Wells' missed jumper. He could have tried to go up against the Wake Forest trees, but Peters opted to kick it out to Jake Layman, who was open after the Deacons collapsed in the paint. Layman proceeded to knock down the trey, giving Peters his second straight assist and Maryland its first lead since the opening minute.
Now, Peters did rush a couple shots and finished just 1-of-4 from the floor, but the Terps need someone who can consistently run the show, and perhaps the freshman can evolve into that role by the 2014-15 campaign.
Faust Has His Day
Nick Faust started the Feb. 18 game against Wake Forest sitting on the bench. Faust checked in after the first media break and his first two shots—both 3-pointers-- clanked off the rim. Meanwhile, Wake Forest ripped off an 11-0 run, and it looked like it would be a long night for the City College product. But rather than wallow in self-pity, Faust put his team on his back, playing one of, if not the most efficient game of his career. Faust shot an impressive 7-of-11 from the floor, went 5-of-7 from 3, and finished with a career-high 20 points. But he didn't just stuff his stat sheet when the game was put away. Faust's back-to-back baskets sparked Maryland's offense midway through the first half to end Wake's 11-0 run, and he followed it up with a pair of treys -- one that cut the lead to one and the other just before the half-- to send the Terps into the break up five.
Add in Faust's five rebounds, an assist, a block, and a steal ... who can remember his lone turnover? OK, maybe I am getting ahead of myself here, there were a few quick 3s and he may have jogged back a few times defensively, but Faust showed he can carry the yeoman's load when Wells and Allen have an off game.
Smotrycz: Can ‘Em, Or Abandon Ship
Evan Smotryzc hasn't had a great night shooting the 3-ball since the Terps beat Miami back on Jan. 29 when the Michigan transfer nailed 3-of-4 from deep. In the five games since then he's hit no more than two 3s, and he's 0-for-7 the last two outings against Duke and Wake.
On Feb. 18, Smotrycz had 10 points, but was 0-for-4 from beyond the arc. His shooting sequence went like this: Missed jumper, missed jumper, missed jumper, made layup, missed jumper, made layup, made layup, missed jumper, missed jumper, made layup, made layup (he had two free throws in there). Notice a pattern here? Maybe Smotrycz should look to drive the ball more often instead of settling for 3s, because even when he's open he's not connecting right now.
It took him until the second half, after opening the latter 20 minutes with two straight missed 3s, to finally attack the hoop. The result? An easy layup inside.
Granted, Smotrycz does have to shoot in order to regain his stroke, and he's not the best ball-handler or most athletic specimen, so breaking down the defense can be a bit treacherous. But he's proven if he gets a lane, he can covert at the rim. It would probably behoove him to attack earlier and more often instead of clanging 3s for half the game.
Lazy Out of the Gate
Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon said before the game one of the things that worried him about Wake was its ability to score in transition. Compound that with a lackadaisical effort to start Feb. 18, and the Deacons ran roughshod over the Terps early. Wake's Madison Jones and Travis McKie had uncontested dunks, while Tyler Cavanaugh and Codi Miller-McIntyre had layups as the Deacons scored eight transition points with minimal effort by the 11:26 mark of the first half.
Noticing the lack of intensity, Turgeon pulled all but one starter at the first media timeout, inserting Jon Graham, Damonte Dodd, Roddy Peters and Nick Faust in place of Jake Layman, Evan Smotrycz, Charles Mitchell and Seth Allen. But the latter group quickly allowed three straight Wake buckets, prompting another round of substitutions.
It wasn't until Turgeon called a timeout with 11:26 left in the first half, with UMD down 15-7, that Maryland picked it up defensively. After that, the Deacons either had a turnover or foul on five of their next six possessions. Wake was then outscored 23-10 the rest of the half as the Terps took a 30-25 halftime lead.
Note Jake Layman's defensive play during that last 11 minutes of the first half. This is the second straight game Layman -- who was effective at the top of UMD's 1-3-1 zone against Duke -- has come up with key stops, spurring Maryland runs. On Feb. 18, he had back-to-back steals, the second of which he took in for a dunk to make the game 15-11 Wake Forest.
Allen Takes a Step Back
Turgeon and Co. can probably live with some of the quick shots Seth Allen hoisted up against Wake Forest, but the turnovers and mental mishaps are more difficult to swallow. It doesn't always show up in the stat book, but Allen's court vision has been limited and his passes less crisp as of late.
With 12:18 left in the first half Allen had his pass picked off by Codi Miller-McIntyre, who fed Travis McKie for a dunk. A couple minutes later, Allen was intercepted again, this time by Coron Williams.
Moreover, it seemed like the Terps' offense lacked flow and creativity at times against Wake, resembling the Maryland sets pre-Duke (when guys stood around instead of moving and cutting). It's the point guard's job to create and run the show, and on Feb. 18 at least Allen's show was rather uninspiring.
Allen compounded the problem by jacking up early jumpers -- he finished 2-of-10 from the field and 2-of-9 from 3-point range -- instead of anchoring the offense. For example, with the Terps down 7-4, Allen grabbed a rebound, took it straight down the floor and attempted a trey 15 seconds into the shot clock. The attempt drew iron, and Wake came down with the board.
The Five: What I Learned After Wake Forest
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