Tonight's game was especially frustrating to watch as a Maryland fan because the effort was excellent and it was a winnable game.
We all know that this team has issues at the free throw line but 11/21? Really? You simply cannot do that and expect to win, especially against a quality opponent.
The next weakness that was exposed was defense. Tonight our defense was not nearly as good as the numbers would indicate. Late rotation and a lack of help on shooters should have killed us tonight but, fortunately, Duke shot 3/16 from beyond the arc. If Duke shoots the 3 that badly and you still lose by double digits, you have some serious issues. Our other main defensive issue is pick and roll defense. How many easy buckets did the Plumlees and Ryan Kelly get tonight because of Pankey/Padgett/Len getting stuck on an island...
Another issue that we had related to defense was our rebounding and ball pursuit. Nobody on this team ever boxes out except for Sean Mosley and Mike Parker. While we were only outrebounded 36-31, that was not indicative of how things went. Mason Plumlee and company had their way on the boards all night. Our ball pursuit also seemed to be lacking. It seemed that every time there was a loose ball, Duke ended up with it.
Finally, this team is not going to win tough games if they can't run offensive sets. When you've got a coaching staff that is especially good with X's and O's, your team should be running sets and manufacturing easy buckets. Our problem, especially lately, has been guys shooting or driving out of rhythm. Shots with no rebounders, shots with hands in their faces, and drives into double and triple teams.
We all know that this team is not going to out-talent most ACC foes but we can capitalize with sound fundamentals and good execution on both ends of the floor. First off, it seems to me that this team does not communicate much at all on defense. Guys frequently look lost and get stuck out of position. The team also needs to work on rebounding fundamentals, namely boxing out and going up with TWO HANDS. Any ACC player worth his salt can strip the ball off any Terp except Mosley because none of them protect the ball. Using two hands and chinning the ball fixes that. On the offensive end, they need to run actual plays and execute them with good passing and a focus on taking good shots. Again, communication would help with this. The big men also need to set stronger screens and then roll to the basket with more conviction. At this point, they often seem to just be going through the motions. I hate to say it, but Duke's repeated execution and discipline is what we should aspire to have. That'll win you a lot of basketball games. Against any opponent.
We're seeing this team progress nicely but they still have a long way to go.