March 4, 2012; College Park, MD, USA; Maryland Terrapins forward James Padgett (35) lays the ball up over Virginia Cavaliers forward Akil Mitchell (left) and guard Joe Harris (right) at Comcast Center. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-US PRESSWIRE
Sean Mosley had a double-double on his senior day with 17 points and 10 rebounds and helped captain Maryland to a furious second-half comeback, but it wasn't enough to topple a Virginia team in desperate need of a win. The Cavs got 35 points from Mike Scott and held on over the Terrapins in overtime, 75-72.
Scott had his second huge game against Maryland this season, as he was similarly deadly when the Terps were in Charlottesville. Mosley took up the slack for Terrell Stoglin for much of the game, as Stoglin struggled through an 8-24 shooting performance and scored only 10 points in the first 25 minutes of the game before pouring in 15 over the final 10. But the biggest culprit of the day for Maryland was a familiar one: they shot only 14-26 from the free throw line, including a 3-10 showing from James Padgett. In a game when only one more point would've won it in regulation, it's tough to overlook that.
The first half was a disjointed affair, with little rhythm. Virginia led for essentially the entire half, largely thanks to 13 points and 9 boards from Mike Scott. Perhaps the biggest turning point in the half was a Nick Faust charge call, which led to a five-point swing for Virginia. The Cavs would take a nine-point lead into the break, and it could've been larger - Maryland shot only 33% from the field and missed all six of their first-half free throws.
Mark Turgeon clearly made a statement with his second-half lineup, bringing out walk-ons John Auslander and Jonathan Thomas to start the half. It was arguably the most amped-up we've seen Turgeon all year long (cameras caught him throwing around assistant Dustin Clark when Clark tried to restrain him, which was a funny moment) and it clearly rubbed off on his team, as Maryland's intensity level and passion greatly increased. They were able to cut the lead down to only a single point at the 12:00 mark of the second half, but passion will only get you so far without execution. A sloppy period stretched Virginia's lead to as large as 12; up 8 with 5:00 to go, things seemed just about in hand for the Cavaliers.
Maryland, though, closed the second half on a 12-4 run, largely fueled by seven points from a resurgent Terrell Stoglin and four missed free throws from Virginia. Stoglin tied the game with a long three-pointer with seven seconds to go, and Virginia's Darion Atkins missed a reverse layup that would've won it for Virginia. Stoglin's three-pointer at the buzzer was short, and the Terrapins improbably took it to overtime.
Virginia, lacking in depth thanks to injuries and foul trouble, showcased their efficiency in the final period, getting points out of all but one of their possessions. Maryland was sloppy in comparison, and Virginia led wire-to-wire in the extra period. Scott scored half of their 14 second-half points, and only two late three-pointers by Stoglin kept the score close. An irrelevant buzzer-beater gave the game it's final 75-72 margin.
I'll repeat what I said in the opener: Maryland's biggest problem was free throw shooting. Easily. Maryland isn't talented enough and doesn't execute well enough to shoot 52% from the stripe. Again: when one point wins you the game and you just leave 12 of them on the stripe staring at you, it's tough to point to anything else.
That said, it's clear that this isn't an effort issue, or even necessarily an execution issue. Turgeon has supposedly had these guys shooting thousands of freebies a week; if they haven't improved by now, they're not going to. It's a talent/roster/personnel issue, and that won't change until next year (or later). If you're Mark Turgeon, what can you do? Sit on the bench and yell "Make your free throws!"? Of course not. Free throw shooting is "fixable," but I can't help but wonder if this is what Maryland looks like when they're "fixed."
So let's look elsewhere. The other two big problems tonight that are worthy of discussion: Terrell Stoglin, and Mike Scott. Let's start with Stoglin. He's in the midst of a slump, no doubt about it, and his shot selection was downright awful. He presses a lot and forces a lot, no doubt about it, but normally what he presses and forces works. For vast swaths of the game, especially midway through the second, it didn't work today, and that brings Maryland's offense to it's knees. In fact, it's doubly painful: Stoglin is clearly Maryland's best (and sometimes only) scorer, but by his nature he takes a lot of shots. So when he's not scoring, it's a double whammy: not only is Maryland not getting points from its best scorer, there's a guy in a wicked slump shooting 30% taking 25 shots a game.
That said, two things: first, the kid is clutch. He didn't have his shot going all game long, and hasn't had it going over the past several weeks, but he stepped up to hit two huge buckets in the final two minutes, including a 25-foot game-tying three. Ice water. If Padgett goes 4-10 instead of 3-10 from the stripe and Maryland wins, people are hailing how clutch Stoglin is.
Secondly, the stretch Stoglin is going through reminds me a lot of the occasional slumps Greivis Vasquez went through, or even the slump Nick Faust had earlier in the year. Both of those players emerged from their slumps as better and more complete players, and the potential is there for Stoglin to do the same. He's an immensely talented player, remember, and if he can improve the mental aspect of his game - learn what's a good shot and what's not, for example - he'd be a terror (in a good way). He's struggling, and Maryland was at times better without him on the floor tonight, but that doesn't mean you turn your back on him. Mark Turgeon knows this, and he'll be there to build Stoglin back up, preferably making some minor modifications that will make him an even better player.
As for Scott: he's a machine, no doubt about it, but Maryland has absolutely no one who can guard him. Not a person. They gave him the mid-range jumper all day long and he took it all day long. Sean Mosley was the only one who could check him, and only then because he got a friendly call on his senior day. Scott is a mismatch, I get it, but Maryland's gaping hole in the frontcourt was obvious today. Simply, the Terrapins' bigs aren't very good. Alex Len can get there, but he's not there yet, and until he improves games involving a big like Scott or Tyler Zeller will be an adventure. True, usually only elite teams have elite bigs, but that's Maryland's goals and it's something they need to build on.
Oh, and speaking of bigs: I've been an Ashton Pankey supporter all year long, but his absence in the second half of the game has to be noted. He played only 6 minutes tonight and none in the second half; while Virginia having to go small played into that (Berend Weijs only played 8 on his senior day) it was head-scratching to see someone who was starting games get absolutely no run as Maryland made a huge comeback. Oh, wait, scratch that: it would've been head-scratching had it not been painfully obvious why Pankey was sitting.
I remember exactly four plays Pankey made in his six minutes on the floor. First: getting pushed out of position for a rebound by Sammy Zeglinski, a 6-1 white kid named "Sammy Zeglinski." (Zeglinski was called for a push, I believe, but c'mon: Pankey needs to be able to stand his ground.) Then an offensive rebound where he got fouled and sent to the line (good); he missed both FT attempts (bad). And then two missed layups.
I'm not one to speculate on whether or not players will transfer or get "run" or whatever. But I'll break that rule here: if it's anyone, it's Pankey. I actually hope he doesn't; Maryland doesn't need the scholarship space and I still think Pankey has potential. But the writing is on the wall on that one.
More later, but two final notes: 1) Nick Faust isn't a point guard (six! turnovers) and continuing to play him there hurts Maryland, but he's still awesome and will be a monster of a facilitating, slashing swingman. Very bright future. 2) 55 of Virginia's 75 points came from seniors. Enjoy your one season of relevance, Hoos.
In good news: the Lady Terps won the ACC Tournament!