Analyzing Maryland's loss at North Carolina

MORNING SHOOTAROUND

January 20, 2013|By Don Markus | The Baltimore Sun

Welcome back to Morning Shootaround, a regular feature this season the day after Maryland basketball games. While we can’t bring you into the Terps’ locker room 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.

North Carolina 62, Maryland 52 @ Smith Center, Chapel Hill, N.C. Saturday

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 Reggie Bullock.

“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 Boston College at home, he knew he had to pick out some of the positives on which the Terps could build: sophomore swingman Dez Wells slicing through the Tar Heels for 21 points as well as shutting down Bullock [three points on 1-for-6 shooting] in the second half, freshman Charles Mitchell taking over for a foul-plagued Cleare and getting 11 rebounds to along with nine points, holding the Tar Heels to 8-for-34 shooting after halftime.

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 Duke -- we will look at some of the things Turgeon might consider doing to get his team out of its offensive funk (three straight games with 55 points or fewer, the first time that has happened at Maryland since 1981-82) and be more consisent in the second half of the ACC season when the schedule is a little more favorable.

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 N.C. State. As much as I agree with Turgeon’s assessment on how inconsistent most of his young guys are, two of his most experienced players are no more consistent and at times are huge liabilities.

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.

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