The Maryland Terrapins opened their regular season with a 80-56 win over a good Mount St. Mary's Mountaineers team. In fact, the Mountaineeers are a preseason pick to win the Northeast conference among conference coaches according to USAToday. There were some good things that Maryland did that was advertised during the game and then there were some bad things that occurred as well.
Let's start with the status of Terps point guard Melo Trimble. Trimble exited the game in the second half in what looked like a lower back injury which he sustained making a layup and fell to the floor after. He quickly got up to hustle on defense but once Maryland got the ball back on the next possession, head coach Mark Turgeon called a timeout for Trimble to rest for the remainder of the game for precautionary reasons.
The injury shouldn't be too serious and we should know more leading up to the Tuesday night matchup against the Georgetown Hoyas.
What We Learned
1. Maryland's front court is as skilled as advertised.
The inside game offensively and defensively for Maryland worked well. Everyone in the front court played well offensively.
Power forward Robert Carter Jr. showed a nice display of a jump hook. The best part about freshman center Diamond Stone right now is his ability to catch the ball in traffic that was something that has been lacking on this team for several years.
Backup forward/center Michal Cekovsky looks much improved from where he was at this time last year. He's playing with more confidence, he has shown better awareness on defense and he has also developed a nice baby jump hook as well. Cekovsky is starting to realize how talented he can be with his size being able to box out his opponents. He attacked the rim very well.
Backup forward/center Damonte Dodd played with aggressiveness offensively in the limited amount of time he saw the floor. Dodd is the best defender the Terps have in the front court but he showed against the Mountaineers that he isn't afraid to attack the rim either.
Probably the best part about Maryland's front court against the Mountaineers was their success at the free throw line. Cekovsky, Dodd and Stone went a combined 6-6 at the charity strike. If Maryland's front court can stay consistent at the free throw line, we might be looking at one of the most dangerous frontcourts in the country.
2. Maryland has special talent at small forward.
Small forward Jake Layman looks like he is ready for the NBA draft next year. Layman put on an extra 20 pounds this offseason as he looks bigger and stronger. Turgeon moved Layman around last night playing at small forward and at power forward and he was really able to establish himself in the paint getting some easy buckets.
Backup small forward Jared Nickens continues to be the best pure shooter on the team. When Maryland goes through a drought in scoring, they always look for Nickens to bail them out. He normally does. His three point shooting is deadly. A lot of people rave about Nickens talents and people like myself want to see him put the ball on the floor a little bit more. Once he can do that, the sky is the limit for him.
3. Depth at point guard shouldn't be a problem.
Trimble, Rasheed Suliamon and Jaylen Brantley look quick. Trimble didn't have his best game, but he was really impressive when slashing to the lane trying to draw body contact.
Sulaimon is the perfect player for the Terps. He's an unselfish player looking to make the extra pass. Maryland is lucky to have a guy of his caliber who can play point guard giving Trimble extra rest.
Brantley didn't show much in terms of shooting as he never took a field goal attempt but he showed that he has pretty good floor vision highlighted by his alley-oop pass to Layman.
Jake Layman finishes an alley-oop from Jaylen Brantley https://t.co/gkIQqoVfP6— Matt Ellentuck (@mellentuck) November 14, 2015
4. Terps need to cut down on turnovers.
Cut the turnovers. Maryland made this game closer than it should have been as they played a little bit too loose against a quality mid major opponent turning the ball over 14 times. While the team is talented, they are still building chemistry and they are going to look a little rusty to start off. By the end of the regular season, Maryland should look really good by then. Right now, they still need to work on their timing.
5. Terps need to stay disciplined on defense.
The Terps also need to get better on defense. The Mountaineers made seven three pointers in the first half as Maryland didn't get back fast enough in transition and were a little lost in their half court defense. The Terps did a better job in the second half as the Mountaineers made only three perimeter shots which resulted in them only shooting 30 percent from the perimeter the entire game.
It was promising that Maryland's defense got better in the second half, but they have stiffer competition coming up as they host the Hoyas this Tuesday on 11/17. They need to play better defense for 40 minutes.
6. Maryland will need to stay committed to the interior game.
While Maryland looked good offensively in the paint, it would be nice if the team stayed committed there a little bit more. Every time Maryland settled for jump shots, they went through a cold streak.
The entire front court can be a bit more aggressive. Everyone in the front court can establish themselves in the paint a little bit more getting physical by boxing out. Once Maryland stays committed to the paint, that is when they will reach their peak on offense.
It was a good win but there is room for improvement. The telling aspect about this game was that Maryland controlled the tempo the entire game. The flow of the game was controlled by Maryland. It just felt like Maryland was stopping themselves more than the Mountaineers were forcing the issue. That may be a constant theme following this Maryland team all year.