The Maryland Terrapins won their first game of the season, defeating Morehead State 67-45, in their home opener at the Comcast Center Monday evening. The Terps rebounded from their close loss to #3 Kentucky in their season opener this past Friday at the Barclay Center Classic in Brooklyn, NY, and improved to 1-1 on the young season.
Maryland was led by sophomore guard Nick Faust, who scored a game high 12 points and also grabbed two rebounds. Fellow sophomore Alex Len scored 11 points and secured seven rebounds, while also blocking three shots. While it might appear Len's production tonight was a drop off from what was arguably his best game as a Terp on Friday, when he scored 23 points and pulled down 12 rebounds against Kentucky, he only logged 24 minutes in what ended up being a game Maryland controlled most of the way.
As they did against Kentucky, Maryland once again struggled at times throughout the game, seeming lost on offense and not being able to effectively score. But the biggest difference between tonight's game and the Kentucky contest was Kentucky's ability to score, whereas Morehead State struggled all night shooting and scoring.
Both of Maryland's primary ball handlers, junior Pe'Shon Howard and freshman Seth Allen, struggled at times in the game, but it was freshman Allen who had a particularly rough night, turning the ball over four times while only dishing out one assist. While Allen has shown flashes of greatness at times, he still seems to be a liability on defense and doesn't pull the ball back out when he drives to the basket and has his lane cut off. Ultimately, he could take over for Howard down the road, but I'd be shocked if Mark Turgeon didn't keep Howard in as the starting point guard for the foreseeable future.
Howard, on the other hand, actually looked better at the point then he has in recent games, dishing out seven assists to just three turnovers. Howard also didn't attempt a single shot tonight, following a 1-8 shooting performance against Kentucky. If he can be a solid ball handler and help get the players around him to score, he'll be a great asset to Maryland. He might have tried to carry this team by shooting the ball in the Kentucky game, whereas tonight he let the players around him do the scoring.
As a team, the Terps turned the ball over 20 times, a number that is probably going to frustrate head coach Mark Turgeon.
While Maryland struggled at times offensively throughout the game, they did show very balanced scoring, with seven players scoring six or more points. At the same time, Maryland showed why they'll be a dangerous team this season, as ten players logged at least 13 minutes in the game. There are a lot of talented teams the Terps will face this season, but I'm betting most don't legitimately go 10 deep.
In addition to the play of Alex Len, Maryland received good performances by their other front court players, as freshman Shaquille Cleare and Charles Mitchell combined to score 10 points and grab 14 rebounds. Senior James "Inspector Gadget" Padgett scored nine points and secured three rebounds in just 13 minutes on the court. Maryland out rebounded Morehead State 40-32.
After tonight's game, I think it's clear that Maryland is going to be a good team this season, but still has a lot of things to iron out, which is what they should be able to do over the next ten games. Northwestern and George Mason are probably the toughest teams they'll play before getting into ACC play and tonight's game against Morehead State was a good test for them. They showed they could take care of a decent opponent, but to get to that next level, they need to continue to get better running their half court sets and playing good defense.
For now, be excited that Maryland has their best team in a while and start getting excited for Maryland basketball once again being relevant.