Welcome back to Morning Shootaround, a regular feature this season the day after
Mark Turgeon often compares coaching his young team to being the parent of young children, considering the skills the second-year Maryland coach needs to navigate his Terps through rough patches in what has the most difficult stretch of the schedule this season. His team's performance at the Dean Dome demonstrates how Turgeon has to find a balance, as he does in parenting his own kids, between criticizing a horrendous first half and finding a silver lining in a more respectable second half.
"We competed to the end in the second half," he said.
Turgeon was clearly upset with Maryland’s lack of focus at the start of the game, when North Carolina opened with an 8-0 run as the Terps committing five straight turnovers after Shaquille Cleare missed a shot on the opening possession. He was also not too happy with the end of the first half, when the Tar Heels scored the last nine points to take a 42-20 halftime lead – with half of the home team’s points coming from junior
"The last three minutes we were as bad as you could be," Turgeon said.
Along with the turnover problems – the Terps had 15 in the first half, 21 in the game – Maryland's inability to make 3-point shots has hurt the team. The Terps were 1-for-12 against the Tar Heels, including a combined 0-for-8 by the team's best outside shooters, freshman Seth Allen (0-for-5) and senior Logan Aronhalt (0-for-3). Maryland is a combined seven of 45 in its past three games.
"It's a long season. You have ups and downs shooting the ball, " Turgeon said. "We've got good shooters missing right now. When it's hard to get a good look, you rush it. When you rush it you usually don't make it."
But as Turgeon was already looking ahead to Tuesday’s game against
Instead of just looking back on what transpired on Maryland’s first trip to Tobacco Road this season -- with its next one looming Saturday at
3 POINT SHOTS
Shorten the rotation
Maryland's depth and the productivity of its bench has been a strength all season, but it has also been a distraction to Turgeon's coaching. I thought he did a better job last season when he had fewer options – basically six or seven instead of the nine of 10 he has had for most of this year. It certainly helped in his team's two ACC wins, but the Terps would probably have won both had he used eight players rather than 10.
I understand the hockey-style lineup changes when the group on the floor is playing poorly, as the starters did Saturday. I don’t understand them when the group is playing well, as the same starting lineup came out strong against
Pe'Shon Howard had some good moments against N.C. State – a couple of baskets in the first half and solid defense on Scott Wood throughout – but the junior point guard had one of the worst stat lines against North Carolina I have ever seen covering college basketball. You would be hard-pressed to find a Division I point guard who ever had seven turnovers and no assists or points in a game, as Howard did in 14 minutes Saturday.
Senior forward James Padgett wasn’t as bad, but his lack of offensive productivity and his inability to get off the floor for defensive rebounds has been an issue for awhile. Padgett’s minutes have steadily decreased since Turgeon took him out of the starting lineup a couple of weeks ago – he played only six minutes against North Carolina. I think Turgeon will likely continue to go with Mitchell and Cleare. I’m not saying to use
Make Dez the focal point
From the start of practice, Turgeon has talked about how most of the team has followed the lead of Wells. You could also see from the start of the season that the 6-5 transfer is Maryland's most skilled player – and the toughest. While Wells has been a bit out of control in a few games recently and has to do a better job taking care of the ball, he is the only player Turgeon has that other teams have a difficult time trying to stop.
Wells has spent most of his first season in College Park trying to fit in. He has heard Turgeon preach to the Terps about getting the ball inside to Len. But unless the Maryland guards can do a better job getting the ball inside to the 7-1 center – how many times have you seen them start to pass and realize that the defense has shifted around Len? – I think Turgeon's best option is to put the ball more in Wells' hands.
You saw that a little Saturday, where it appeared as if Wells was actually running the point on a couple of plays. Though it produced mixed results – with Wells driving for a layup on one possession, then bouncing the ball out of bounds on another possession despite no Tar Heels within three feet of him – he can either score or get the ball to Len and the other big men. Wells has proven on occasion that he can be a big scorer. It's time to have him do that.
Turn your defense into offense
Turgeon used his press earlier this season for the first time he was hired to pick up the tempo against a non-conference opponent trying to slow things down. It worked pretty well, but the coach attributed it to the level of the competition rather than his team's ability to press. He has been forced to use it more recently, in trying to come back in his last four ACC games.
It worked against
If the offense continues to struggle making shots, creating easy baskets off turnovers is something that Turgeon's team needs to do. I'm not saying to press all the time – as the Maryland teams under Gary Williams seemed to do, even when he didn't have the athletes to do it – but don't just use it as an act of desperation.
I think that if Maryland can create something of a new defensive identity – which the Terps have started to do in halfcourt situations – it will take a lot of the pressure off players on the offensive end.