By Chris Knoche
There were some silver linings in the Maryland Terrapins 62-42 defeat at the hands of the 15th ranked Alabama Crimson Tide in the first round of the 5 Hour Energy Puerto Rico Tip-Off
Nobody got hurt.
They get a chance to play again soon- tomorrow night against a talented Colorado Buffalo team.
That pretty much about sums it up.
It was a game that the Terps trailed from the first possession to the final horn and they were soundly drubbed in all phases. They were hammered on the backboards, where the Tide enjoyed a 47-29 edge. Alabama shot an efficient 7-16 from the three point line and 24-56 from the field (43). On the other hand, Maryland continued to shoot blanks and suffered through a horrid first half, shooting 5-27 (18) from the field.
The Terps three guard backcourt of Terrell Stoglin, Nick Faust and Sean Mosley shot a combined 1-13 in that first half. The only made field goal was a Mosley three to end the first half. It was the first made Maryland three of the season.
Faust did a pretty solid job against the vaunted Alabama pressure defense. He had been moved to play point guard to free up Stoglin as a scorer on the wing. Faust finished the game with 3 assists versus only 2 turnovers. Yet those ball handling duties seemed to take him out of the flow of the offense he was trying to run and he would finish 1-6 from the floor.
Nobody struggled more than Stoglin.
He was clearly a marked man on the Alabama scouting report and he was never able to deviate from his usual game to exploit all of the attention he got from the defense. He regularly drove into traffic in the lane and threw up a difficult shot or pulled up for a contested shot in transition against Alabama pressure. He finished 0-9 for the game and, to compound matters, seemed to make the wrong choice on the offensive side of things on a regular basis.
The vaunted Alabama pressure defense only forced 9 Maryland turnovers but much of what it is designed to do is to make teams take tough shots in transition and, from that standpoint it succeeded.
The second half had much of the same to offer that the first half did. Mychal Parkers driving layup at the 14:23 mark was the first Maryland field goal of the half and cut the margin to 40-23 but the Terps would get no closer than that.
For the second half the team shot a combined 8-22 (36).
The Terps finished the game with five walk-ons on the floor. Head Coach Mark Turgeon was no doubt trying to get his seven scholarship players some rest in light of the fact that they would be lacing up again within 24 hours.
There can be no doubt that the loss was particularly difficult for Turgeon to take but he was brought in to build a program and he had to have anticipated there would be nights like this.
Some of this is a by-product of the fact that they have only seven scholarship players available. When that happens practices suffer. Your first team has no real competition to play against every day and that has a huge effect on your product on the floor. While Turgeon is far from delusional, any coach can get a skewed vision of his team in a practice environment like that.
Another part of it is simply poor play. This team has demonstrated that it will put out the effort and plays hard. The problem is that in college basketball, playing with effort is where you have to start to be competitive.
Then you have to play well.
In their first two games against UNCW and Alabama the Terps have been upside down in their assist to turnover ratio and have struggled making perimeter shots at all. Those two things are the yin and yang of offensive basketball. If you dont run offense and make good choices someone will end up taking a difficult shot against the disciplined and ever-athletic defenses you see in college hoops now.
And if youre not making the open jumpers and layups when the offense is executed, no assists are ever granted, obviously.
For the game Maryland held the powerful Tide to just 62 points and only turned the ball over 9 times. Yet their inability to make anything work offensively crushed their opportunity to be competitive.
The return of sophomore point guard PeShon Howard from a foot injury will be every bit as welcomed as the return of 71 center Alex Len from NCAA suspension.
Howards return date is up n the air. Len will become eligible around the holidays. Both will make a huge difference for the Terps.
That said, neither one will be playing against a good Colorado team tomorrow night.
For Mark Turgeon and company the game will represent an opportunity to put this Alabama debacle in their rear view mirror and concentrate on taking the opportunity to get better.
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