Analyzing Maryland's win over George Mason


December 03, 2012|By Don Markus, The Baltimore Sun

Welcome back to Morning Shootaround, a regular feature the day after Maryland games. While we can’t bring you into the Terps’ lockerroom after games – reporters haven’t been allowed in there since the last couple of years under Gary Williams – we will recap what was said in the press conference afterward by Maryland coach Mark Turgeon and his players. We will give some of our own insight into what transpired on the court during the previous day’s game and what the Terps will be working on at practice looking ahead to their next game.

Maryland 69, George Mason 62 @Verizon Center, Washington Sunday

Coming off its most impressive win of the season – and by far its best half – in Tuesday’s road win at Northwestern in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge, Maryland’s expectations (or at least the expectations surrounding the Terps) were certainly raised going into this game.  Suddenly, a relatively close win over a good local program that has done far more in March than the Terps have the past few years is scrutinized than at any point during Mark Turgeon’s first 39 games in College Park.

In the post-game press conference, Turgeon could quickly see where the questions were going about his team’s poor outside shooting, its 19 turnovers and some dismal free-throw shooting down the stretch that made what could have easily been a 15-point win suddenly become a two-possession game in the final minute.

Turgeon talked about how pleased he was with his team’s defense.

“The game didn’t go the way we wanted it to go today, but it’s going to help us. I can look across this [stat] sheet, we played 10 guys, every one of them defensively played well for us,” Turgeon said. “That’s comforting. That wasn’t the case 10 days ago. I know that every one of them have grown up defensively and are dialed in.”

End of discussion.


*** For longtime Maryland fans, the second half of Sunday’s game could have been an homage to former Terps star Keith Booth. As tough a competitor as Booth was, as skillful as he was in the low post and around the rim, the undersized power forward from Dunbar could not shoot from the outside with any consistency. I remember a three-week period his senior year when he led the ACC in scoring without hitting a single shot outside 10 feet.

Not that any of these current Terps have Booth’s low-post skills, though Dez Wells might be the best post-up guard in the ACC, and one of the best in the country. But Maryland managed to win a game without hitting an outside shot after Wells hit a 3 late in the first half. Everything came on drives, many by Wells, dunks (including a beautiful alley-oop from Pe’Shon Howard to Nick Faust) and free throws.

Turgeon had an interesting explanation for this.

“It didn’t show up a lot, but we tried to play through our post in the second half, because we did that they were doubling, when they did that we had space to drive,” Turgeon said.

But he admitted that his team’s 3-point shooting (2-for-11 Sunday, 30 of 98 for the season) and any kind of mid-range shooting game is not there.

“We’re not shooting the ball at the clip we need to be shooting the ball to be a great team,” Turgeon said after his team shot 22 of 49 overall. “Besides turnovers, that’s the next component. We have guys who can shoot it.

“We’re just not shooting the ball well. We talked about driving the ball more and we did that. Each game is different. As a coach, you figure out a way to win. If you don’t make jump shots, you’d better get to the foul line. We didn’t make them. But we’ll make them as the season goes on.”

Maryland is going to have to show it can make jump shots in order to keep teams off of Alex Len. I know that Turgeon wants Howard to shoot the ball more, but the junior point guard will have to make some too along the way or else opposing teams are going to give help on Len inside or even on Wells if they figure Howard is not a factor offensively.

Howard, who leads the ACC in assists, did a nice job getting the ball to the basket (six assists) and hitting the boards (seven rebounds) but has to present more of a threat shooting. The way Maryland rebounds, even his misses could turn into quasi-assists.

*** I know that many, including me, have been critical of Faust, but the sophomore guard from City finally seems to be getting the message Turgeon has been drumming into him since the preseason. Early on, it seemed as if Faust thought he was going to be Maryland’s first scoring option, or at worst the team’s second behind Len.

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