Maryland Falls to Iona in Sloppy Fashion, 89-63

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This just in: Maryland's offense is still very much a work-in-progress, and particularly misses Pe'Shon Howard's steady presence at point guard.

That was made blatantly clear by the Terrapins' 89-63 loss to the Iona Gaels, in which they turned the ball over a shocking 26 times - strangely enough, one for every point by which they lose. That figure is their most since they gave it away 29 times against Seattle in last year's opener. This against a defense that three days ago was described as playing at a pick-up level.

The Gaels' offense, for what it's worth, was as good as advertised: Maryland kept them three points shy of their season average of 92 a game, but it was clear that they're a talented bunch. Scott Machado in particular stood out, much to Doug Gottlieb's joy, with 15 points and 15 assists. They play at a breakneck pace, and Maryland's inexperienced bunch just couldn't hang. (Although the first officials they run into that like to call offensive push-offs will probably be their undoing.)

The score is a bit shocking, but remember that Iona is actually very good. They took Purdue right to the wire and nearly beat them, and they'll likely romp through the MAAC. So don't worry too much about the loss.

What was really concerning was Maryland's inability to hold onto the ball. They figured it out in the second half a bit, but turned the ball over 22 times in the first half alone. That is shockingly bad and was the runaway biggest reason for the loss. And worst of all, several those could be described as unforced: a solid half-dozen must've come on inbound plays alone, and several others were results of players simply being lazy, not paying attention (like when Nick Faust sent a bounce pass to an unaware Sean Mosley), and the like.

Of course, there are several factors at play. The first, and the most obvious, is Maryland's lack of quality guard play. Each of the Terrapins' four guards, Faust, Mosley, Terrell Stoglin, and Mychal Parker, had four turnovers a piece, and Faust in particular seemed to struggle with the pressure. That pressure, of course, is the other big factor: Iona pressed on every possession, and was constantly pushing the ball. Maryland got caught up in the pace and had no idea how to play under control at that speed, or how to slow it back down.

There were other problems, including questionable transition defense. That doesn't worry me too much, though; that's Iona's game, it's what they're good at, and Maryland dealt with it every bit as well as, say, Purdue. I'm more concerned about the more offensive problems, from free-throw shooting (53%) to the performance of Nick Faust (1-7, two points, four turnovers). Faust is still young and is playing out of position, so it's far from time to hit the panic button, but it wasn't an encouraging showing.

Speaking of "encouraging showings," though: is this the real Sean Mosley? Sugar Sean has been more well-known for his strong defense than his ... uh, inconsistent ... shooting stroke, but he poured in 21 points, including four three-pointers. That comes on the heels of a 16-point, 4-6 from deep game against Colorad. I don't know if this is the same Sean Mosley we'll see the rest of the season, but if it is, things might've gotten a bit easier for the Terrapins.

Things, of course, will get better for Maryland once Howard and, to a lesser extent, Alex Len return to Maryland's side. But how much? Is Howard going to be an instant cure for Maryland's offensive woes? I have my doubts, but I suppose that's a topic for another day. The team, as it's currently assembled, will be in a fight in almost every game they play.

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