Entering Wednesday's game against Abilene Christian, most expected the game to be a tune up for Maryland; a chance to work on their point guard situation and tweak the Terps' rotation. Instead, Mark Turgeon found his team in a struggle, trailing for most of the half as the Wildcats hit three pointer after three pointer as if they were the Duke Blue Devils.
"I thought Abilene Christian was great in the first half. I thought we weren't that great, and I'll take the blame for that." Turgeon said following Maryland's 67-44 win. "I don't know what I did wrong, but I didn't have us ready. For it to be the home opener and to play that way is just not good. We didn't put a lot in to Abilene Christian. We play a lot of games and they run a lot of the same things we do offensively. We went through it yesterday and didn't put a lot of time into it today. Mentally, I want our guys to be fresh. Maybe the guys thought that I didn't think Abilene Christian was any good by doing that and obviously I didn't get them ready to play. That said, we finished strong and our guys played better in the second half. We played inside-out and then Jake [Layman] got going."
With freshman Roddy Peters getting his first career start, Maryland looked lost on offense and seemed unable to get into any type of rhythm while also struggling on the defensive side of the ball. According to Turgeon, Peters started as a result of an injury to Jake Layman, who had a thigh injury that kept him out of practice this week.
"...Roddy [Peters] started because Jake [Layman] had a thigh bruise. He didn't practice and we've got a rule that if you don't practice, you don't start. I thought Roddy played better as the game went on."
Maryland was finally able to get things rolling in the second half behind the strong performance of sophomore Jake Layman, who scored 14 points in a 16-0 Terps run.
"It was kind of frustrating in the first half because we know we can play a lot better than that and that is something that we need to work on." Layman said following the game. "It was our energy. We knew in the second half we needed energy."
"We've got to do a better job of getting Jake more shots and I thought we did that tonight" Turgeon said. "He made them. He got his legs underneath in the second half and knocked them down.
Prior to Layman's run, Maryland's most productive player was sophomore Charles Mitchell, who finished with 15 points and a team-high 11 rebounds. "Whatever I can do from my team, that's what I'm going to do" Mitchell said. "I'm not really worried about who starts or who plays the most minutes. I'm going to value the minutes I get and play hard."
Maryland has some answers they need to resolve and will get a decent test on Sunday against Oregon State. Roddy Peters needs to continue to progress as the team's point guard, Maryland needs to do what they can to have Dez Wells play at the two-guard, and Mark Turgeon has to decide whether Charles Mitchell's offensive production warrants him starting over Shaq Cleare, who has been better on defense but struggled on offense.
Hopefully Maryland can learn from this game, not look past any opponent and continue to improve their play throughout the non-conference portion of their schedule. They definitely have the talent but now need to find the best way to maximize that potential in game situations.