Maryland held an open basketball practice today, which gave us a glimpse of where the team stands about a month prior to their first exhibition game in early November. Mark Turgeon was absent from the scrimmage, home with strep throat, so Scott Spinelli was running the show.
They broke the squad down into two teams and held a scrimmage, which was officiated and even included media timeouts. Bino Ranson coached the black team and Dalonte Hill coached the red team, and Dalonte's squad won, 38-36.
Dalonte's team had Roddy Peters, Nick Faust, Jake Layman, Damonte Dodd, Charles Mitchell, Jon Graham and Conner Lipinski. Bino's squad had Varun Ram, Seth Allen, Dez Wells, Evan Smotrycz and Shaquille Cleare.
Layman led the way for the winning red squad, scoring 20 points and hitting four three pointers. Faust was the next-highest scorer on the team, with ten, and Dodd and Mitchell each put three points up. Peters and Lipinski, who both played the point, each scored a single point (but Peters looked very comfortable running the offense.
For the black team, Wells and Smotrycz tied for the team-lead with 12 points, with Allen scoring eight and Cleare scoring four. Most notable? Allen played the two as Varun Ram ran the point, a sign of what role Turgeon would like Allen to play in the future for the team.
Layman's continued prolificity can only be a good sign for the Terps -- he dominated the tournament in Bahamas and could be a real scoring threat for the team this season. He and Smotrycz were both able to consistently hit outside shots, stretching the floor and making it extremely hard for the opposing defense, and when you combine that with some added interior explosiveness from both Cleare and Dodd and a thoroughly impressive showing from Peters, Maryland could be a much-improved team on offense this season.
The focus, however, has been on defense, and the hope is that Faust can step up and dominate the perimeter. Turgeon has said he hopes the junior can take over Pe'Shon Howard's role and defend the opposing team's top player, and Faust said he welcomes the role.
"I think it'll be really good for me," he said. "It's good experience for my game, defending the best player on the other team, it'll just help us as a team. I feel like I can guard the best player."
The junior is showing signs of improvement from last year, especially in his focus on the defensive end of the floor -- something he said he's been working on.
"I would just say it's just me [having] more of just a sense of urgency, working hard," Faust said. "It's a lot of help-side this year so I'm able to move around a lot more...Overall, I feel like I got better over the summer and I'm just being more alert."
The issue remains turnovers for the young Terrapin squad -- Maryland ranked 338th out of 345 teams last year in turnover margin, giving up 15 a game while forcing just 10.7.
"I thought we turned the ball over a little too much, but I thought both teams played hard and it went pretty well," Smotrycz said. "We've got so many talented guys that we can't be giving away possessions."
At the end of the day, it looked like a talented team in the early stages of practice. Maryland's got some serious playmakers -- it may be the most talented squad in years in College Park -- and they've got a month to fine-tune the issues before real play starts.