Maryland made a splash in the offseason when it brought in Kevin Willard to be the next head coach. After a promising start, it is fair to say that the Terrapins are still looking for their identity.
Maryland began the season 8-0, including a big win over Illinois to begin conference play. That feels like months ago as the Terps have dropped three straight and were recently dominated by UCLA on their home floor.
Maryland is scoring 74.4 points per game through 11 games, which is eighth in the Big Ten. This number has gone down significantly during this three-game losing streak.
The Terps began the season with seven consecutive wins by double-figures. Niagara, Western Carolina, and Binghamton began the year. Maryland then took on St. Louis and Miami, who it handled with ease. Coppin State and a bad Louisville team were next before Maryland picked up its first significant victory of the season over Illinois.
Since that game, the Terps are scoring 57.3 points per game. An ugly, road loss to Wisconsin was followed up by two others to Tennessee and UCLA. After being run off its home floor by the Bruins, the question has come up — is it time to panic?
That question cannot be answered just yet. Maryland entered the game against UCLA as slight favorites and did not compete from the opening minutes. UCLA built a 26-7 lead at the eight-minute mark of the first half. The lead ballooned to as many as 30 before the break, where UCLA led 49-20.
Maryland is fourth in the Big Ten in field goal percentage at 46.2. Against UCLA, the team shot 40.4 percent. the Terps went 10-for-27 from three-point range and lost the turnover battle 16-4. This is a game where Maryland needs to burn the game film but after two previous losses, red flags are beginning to be put up by fans.
It is a bit too early to be putting up these flags despite any early-season concerns. Maryland has looked like a top-tier team in the Big Ten and it is because of its balanced scoring attack.
The Terps currently have four players averring double-digit points per game and six players over seven points a night. Jahmir Young leads the team with 14.5 points per game. He is currently ninth in the conference in this area. Young is followed by Donta Scott (13.9), Hakim Hart (12.0), and Julian Reese (11.2).
Maryland is not shooting the ball well from deep to this point at 31.8%, which is 11th in the conference. The scoring attack has been balanced and Maryland is strong on the defensive end. This is a recipe to get to 8-3 on the year.
The Terps are top five in the Big Ten, allowing just 63.2 points per game. Despite losing three in a row, the defensive prowess is there. They are allowing 69 points per game over the last three games and of course, that number was inflated in the loss to UCLA (87 points). The problem has been offensively. Maryland has taken a step back on that end of the floor but have the pieces to bounce back.
When looking at Maryland, it remains middle of the pack in many areas like rebounding (37.6), turnovers (11.6), and free throw percentage (71.9).
Terps’ fans, it is not time to push the panic button just yet.
Just go down the checklist. Head coach — Kevin Willard was a slam dunk hire and will continue to build the program even more. There is experience at the top of the roster in Young. Maryland has shown that it can compete with top teams. Yes, one blowout loss to UCLA but a victory over Illinois and a three-point loss to Top 10 Tennessee.
Finally, in one of the best conferences in college basketball, Maryland has looked like a contender.