Maryland's downfalls against Boston College weren't new.
Free throw shooting has hurt Maryland before; they missed their final three free throws while shooting just 57% from the stripe on the game. So, too, has perimeter defense; Boston College shot 45% - and 58% in the second half - from beyond the arc. There's also been a lack of production from Maryland's halfcourt offense, lack of 3-point shooters, and poor performance late in games. And all of those came back, too.
Unfortunately for Maryland, a career performance from Jordan Williams wasn't enough to overcome their familiar foes, and Boston College upset the Terrapins in their ACC opener, 79-75.
A lot of the game leaned Maryland's way. The Terrapins won the rebounding battle. They forced 15 turnovers and only gave up 9. Jordan Williams played perhaps the game of his life. But, quite simply, those all-too-familiar problems mistakes cropped up again.
The worst of all the mistakes was perimeter defense. Maryland always seems to get torched by good-shooting teams, and it's curious. Illinois beat them that way. Villanova had a shooting exhibition last year. And yet again, Maryland's perimeter defense looked suspect at best. Seriously, when I say that this was virtually BC's only offense, I'm not joking: they got half of their points from beyond-the-arc, well above their (or anyone else's) season average. Everyone knew that they were an outside-shooting team, but they still got plenty of open looks, and not just in transition.
Maryland's lack of clutch performance and the fact that they still don't have a three-point shooter of note are probably the next two most important flaws. The Terrapins kind of fell apart in the final two minutes: they had a 3 point lead with just over 2:00 to go, then were outscored 6-0. Oh, and they shot 3-17 from deep. That's 17%. They got their open looks, but, as has been common this year, the shots wouldn't fall. Again.
What's so disarming is that all of these problems have shown up before, and they've been very visible. I wrote almost these same exact things after the Temple loss. Free throw shooting can be fixed with enough repetition. Perimeter defense is little more than a philosophy or mentality. Maybe a deep shooter isn't going to show up until next August, and that's understandable. (Truthfully, this team needs Nick Faust rightnow). But all of these are going to rear their ugly heads again. And again. And again. Get to know (and hate) them well.
One thing that shouldn't be lost in all this is Jordan Williams' performance. I hate sounding like a broken record, but: he's just at another level. Literally no one expected this when he committed, and I have to imagine very few expected this even at the start of this season. I know I didn't, and I handed him the keys to the team just hours after Greivis Vasquez left. He put up yet another double-double today, most impressively with 27 points, which is his career high. If he can play anywhere close to this level the rest of the season, he's an all-ACC team lock and a real contender for all-America teams.
The cold truth of the matter, though, is that Maryland will go as far as Jordan will take them. He was to Maryland what the three-pointer was to BC. Only two other players were in double-digits, and one of them disappeared in the second half. Maryland's three perimeter starters (Sean Mosley, Adrian Bowie, and Sean Mosley) had their old problems again: 7-21 from the field, 1-7 from deep, and 17 points (most of those points came in transition, not in the halfcourt offense). To be fair, Adrian Bowie shouldn't be included there; it's tough to be upset about 7 assists, 0 turnovers, and 4 points on 2-3 shooting. Still, there's no one on the perimeter for Maryland, and when teams have the size to start taking away Jordan - and they will - Maryland will more than likely be at a loss.
One of the only perimeter players to not fall victim to that completely was Terrell Stoglin. Say what you will about him - that he's turnover-prone, forces too much, makes bad decisions, isn't great defensively, and doesn't get teammates involved. They're all right to some extent, but he's still the only perimeter player with the ability to create and make his own shot. He's incredibly active and was a breath of fresh air to a team with a relatively stagnant half-court offense.
He's going to make a lot of mistakes and bad decisions, but he's a freshman. His ceiling is extraordinary and Maryland largely plays much, much better when he's in the game. I don't know if he'll start anytime soon, but he'll be getting starter minutes before long, and his importance to Maryland cannot be understated.
The problem with relying so heavily on a freshman? Like I said, he'll make mistakes and have bad times. We saw that today in the second half. After an outstanding first half, he was 2-11 in the second and took a variety of misguided shots. Maryland doesn't have any other option right now and I'd still like to see more of him, but his lack of production hurt.
For the record, Dino Gregory made a lot of the haters eat crow today. He's been up and down all year and has his detractors, usually with good reason, but he's been respectable this year and was downright great today. There's no hating on 14 points (6-8 shooting), 5 boards, and 3 blocks. Yes, it'd be nice if he was more active on the boards, but that's getting nit-picky.
I could talk about this one all day, but I'll wait until tomorrow for most of everything else. In the big picture, this loss hurts. It doesn't kill, but it hurts. BC isn't bad: they have some nice wins and just got a nicer one. In that sense, it's another "not bad loss." It's obvious that Maryland's potential is high and that it's just a matter of time before they start putting things together.
But considering that the ACC looks down and Maryland lacks (to this point) a marquee non-con win, things are looking grim if they go any less than 9-7. Even then, 10-6 in conference might be a necessity. Losing a winnable home game isn't a good way to start things off.