The 5-seed Maryland Terrapins came into tonight's game with a chance to go to the sweet 16 for the first time since 2003. After getting past a pesky South Dakota State Jackrabbit squad, the Terrapins faced a new set of challenges from the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors.
After a slow start, the Terrapins managed to clamp down defensively and get points off of turnovers. Sophomore Melo Trimble and freshman Diamond Stone served as the catalysts on offense, while Junior big man Damonte Dodd played a magnificent role in setting the defensive tone and making Hawaii forward Stefan Jankovic work for every point in the second half.
With the round of 32 now in the past for Maryland, what did we learn from their tilt against Hawaii?
What We Learned:
1. Melo Trimble and Diamond Stone kept Maryland in the game in the first half.
The first half had potential for Hawaii to run the Terrapins out of Spokane had it not been for the steady play of Melo Trimble and Diamond Stone. One of the biggest keys for Maryland was to not get stuck from a slow start offensively. Maryland shot an abysmal 0-for-8 from the perimeter in the first half, and needed a boost from true freshman Diamond Stone to help pull Maryland out of their offensive rut.
The shots that Maryland took were solid shots - many of the shots on the perimeter were wide open - but they were often off by a large margin. Melo Trimble's 0-for-2 start from distance prompted an attacking style of offense which helped get Stone involved. Trimble did a terrific job at refusing a ball screen, attacking off the dribble and forcing the defense to stray away from Stone. The duo of Trimble and Stone combined for 20 of the team's 28 halftime points and were a main reason why Maryland held a 28-27 lead going into the break.
2. Damonte Dodd was the best interior defender on Hawaii big man Stefan Jankovic.
Amongst Maryland fans, Dodd would probably be the first answer to the question of who is Maryland's best low post defender. Hawaii forward Stefan Jankovic left his mark on the perimeter in the first half, but had clear intentions of establishing himself on the low block. The slow feet and limited lateral mobility of Diamond Stone forced Terrapins coach Mark Turgeon to insert Dodd into the lineup to guard Jankovic.
Dodd did a terrific job at being physical with Jankovic and staying on his feet when faced with pump fakes. Hawaii did a tremendous job in the first half getting Diamond Stone involved in defending ball screens and taking advantage of his diminished lateral mobility. Dodd stood his ground and managed to make Jankovic work for his looks on the offensive end and helped create turnovers which lead to an offensive outbreak at the midway mark of the second half.
3. Maryland can generate points in a plethora of ways.
The Terrapins have potential NBA players at all five positions in the starting lineup, and with that firepower comes a multitude of ways the Terps can put up points. Trimble, Sulaimon, Layman and Carter Jr. are all capable of knocking down three pointers, but some games, they can't hit water if they fell out of a boat.
Take tonight's game into consideration. Maryland didn't hit their first three point attempt until their 16th attempt. Going 1-for-16 from the perimeter is usually not ideal unless you can find other ways to generate points. Melo Trimble's ability to draw contact and get to the free throw line is second to none, as is his ability to create opportunities for others.
Perhaps their most underrated way to generate points is their ability to produce turnovers and turn them into points on the offensive end. Thanks in large part to Damonte Dodd, the Terrapins were able to flex their muscles on the low block, clamp down and get turnovers which helped balloon the lead to double digits halfway through the second half. Senior guard Rasheed Sulaimon did a terrific job on the defensive end, which also allowed for him to create scoring opportunities for himself. Sulaimon drew the assignment of Hawaii guard Roderick Bobbitt, and managed to shut him down by only giving up six points on 1-for-8 shooting. When Maryland's defense can clamp down and create scoring opportunities from their defensive prowess, the sky is the limit for this Terrapin squad.