Morning Shootaround: Analyzing the Terps' 79-68 loss to North Carolina

March 07, 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 Maryland coach Mark Turgeon and his players said in the postgame news conference. 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 79, Maryland 68 on Wednesday at Comcast Center

Senior Night is often a tough deal for coaches. Whoever invented it should have told the coach of the home team that he didn't need to start his seniors if they weren’t already in the starting lineup. The Terps weren’t the only team that looked out of sync from the start this week on Senior Night because of a couple of unfamiliar faces -- in Maryland’s case, Logan Aronhalt -- in the starting lineup. Look what happened at Indiana on Tuesday night.

I am not going to lay this one on Aronhalt, who might have been a little too pumped up. I was there very early trying to beat the snow that never came and watched Aronhalt and Evan Smotrycz, the transfer from Michigan who’s sitting out this year, go through pregame shootaround routines. Aronhalt rarely missed. (Neither did Smotrycz, which bodes well for next season.) Then he comes out and misses his first 3-pointer and never finds his range or confidence, shooting 0-for-5.

I am not going to put this one on Turgeon, either, for starting Aronhalt and James Padgett, who actually had a pretty good game, finishing with nine points and eight rebounds and being the blue-collar guy he has been for the Terps the past two seasons after barely playing his first two years. Turgeon didn’t get outcoached by Roy Williams, as some have written in response to my game story. North Carolina just has more talent -- and more experienced talent at that.


Single-digits again for Len          

After scoring in double digits in 16 of Maryland’s first 19 games, including its first six ACC games, sophomore center Alex Len has now been held to single digits in seven of the last 11, five of the past seven and four of the last five. He had eight points in 27 minutes against the Tar Heels, none in the last 16:58 of the game.

While Turgeon is clearly frustrated with Len’s lack of productivity -- responding to my statement that I thought the 7-footer played well early with a “good start to you, but maybe not good start to me, OK” -- Len doesn’t seem fazed by his inability to figure out how to score against double-teams. He said he was just doing what he thinks he’s supposed to, which is to kick it back out to open shooters.

Len made an early turnover trying to do that, but that’s not the biggest problem. What I don’t understand is how easily teams box him out when he’s going for offensive rebounds. I don’t think it’s a lack of strength as much as it is a lack of savvy, of knowing how to position himself or even maybe a lack of a killer instinct, like a Charles Mitchell or even a Padgett seem to have going to the boards.

If there is anything I disagree with Turgeon about how he rotates his big men is the way he gives Len every opportunity to get things going and then is continually disappointed down the stretch. Shaquille Cleare seems to be the forgotten man, as happened at Boston College (5 minutes, didn’t play in the second half) and again on Wednesday night (4 minutes, didn’t play in the second half).

I know the Terps still have a chance to make the NCAA tournament by winning the ACC tournament, but if Len is not going to be around next season as everyone suggests (including a few NBA scouts I have talked with recently), why not start transitioning to next season by playing Cleare and Mitchell together as much as possible?

A pressing issue    

Just as I am constantly asking Turgeon about Len’s disappearing act, another reporter always asks the second-year Maryland coach about why he doesn’t press more. It has worked this season a few times, but Turgeon believes it has not worked well in several other games.

Turgeon’s point is that Maryland’s comebacks -- against the Tar Heels they chopped a 16-point lead to six points with a little over six minutes left -- are really nothing more than making the final score respectable.

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