It was rarely pretty and much closer than it needed to be, but Maryland found a way to put away Florida Gulf Coast, 73-67, largely thanks to 24 points from Terrell Stoglin. And I think it's time to embrace the fact that "rarely pretty and closer than it needed to be" will apply to most of Maryland's wins this season.
But let's not worry about that right now. Maryland got the win, and in all honesty the game wasn't actually as close as the score. The Terrapins cut down on turnovers (sort of - only 16) and had a strong defensive performance, holding a perimeter-oriented team to 2-19 shooting from deep.
Ballhandling, especially against the press, is still a problem. The Eagles pressed early and often, and Maryland really struggled with it. That's from where many of their turnovers came, and they often turned into easy FGCU points the other way. It was interesting, though, because they had little bright moments where they'd figure out how to pass out of it instead of dribble out of it, which led to easy offensive opportunities of their own. Hopefully that's a sign of progress, because it needs to be happening more. Illinois and most ACC teams will likely put the press on, and it has the potential to be very bad.
Another old haunt, free throw shooting, was a little hit-or-miss, and is actually the biggest reason the game was so close in the findl few seconds. They ended up shooting an unacceptable 59% from the line, but weirdly enough most of the misses came from Stoglin, of all people, who took 24 shots from the stripe and made only 12. (Many of those misses came in the final few minutes, FWIW.) That's way below his season average, and he'll certainly do much better than 50% for the rest of the year. Everyone else looked much improved over the Puerto Rico trip: James Padgett hit 3-4, Ashton Pankey hit 3-4, Nick Faust hit both of his, and Berend Weijs even sunk a freebie. Assuming Stoglin gets back to his old self, this may actually be a good sign, strangely enough.
I think ball movement in the half-court was a bit better than it was in Puerto Rico, but it almost had to be against a less-than-impressive defense. We'll see if it holds up.
As far as individual performances go, Stoglin actually wasn't very good today. He should've made more of his free throws, for one, and still struggled with over-dribbling. Much more impressive was Sean Mosley, who's continued a string of good play. He finished 3-6 from the field with 6 points and 7 boards, but continued to do all the little things right and made the offensive plays he should've made. I want to see him become more involved.
Faust is sowing little signs of progress. He was just as ineffective in the half-court as he's been in the first few games, but he had three steals, two of which led to easy buckets, and had an extraordinary fast-break dunk that showcased some of his athleticism. Anything he gives you right now is gravy, at least until Pe'Shon Howard comes back. And by the way, Mychal Parker might be the worst ball-handler in the ACC, at least among perimeter players. I was really impressed with his rebounding and think he has a future there, but it's both funny and nerve-wracking to watch him bring the ball up the floor.
And last but not least, how about James Padgett? Finished with 11 points, 4-5 from the floor with 3-4 from the stripe. Not near as good as he needed to be on the boards, but Maryland needs offense from their post, and today he provided it.
It's still the holiday season, so that's all for now. Enjoy what's left of your Black Friday.