On Saturday afternoon, coming off a key ACC road win over Boston College, Maryland was facing what amounted to a cupcake game against Florida Atlantic. The Owls, who entered the game with a 3-7 record and ranked as the 233rd best team according to KenPom, shouldn't have been in the game at the end like they were. FAU had an opportunity to tie or take the lead with less than a minute left mainly because Maryland couldn't put the Owls away when they had the chance due to defensive lapses and poor shot selection. While the Terps never trailed in the game, they had multiple opportunities to put FAU away, once in each half, but instead allowed the Owls to get back into the game both times.
Maryland needs to continue to play better perimiter defense
Florida Atlantic isn't exactly a consistently good three-point shooting team, but on Saturday they shot 41% from beyond the arc. After really improving on their defensive effort since the Oregon State loss, Maryland didn't play up to their potential on the defensive side of the ball.
"They made a lot of shots." Mark Turgeon said following the game. "They starting point guard [Marquan Botley] is shooting 26 percent for the year and he made four threes today."
Here's just one example of Botley scoring a three, a shot in which he was wide open due to Jake Layman getting pulled away from covering Botley by a drive to the hoop. Here is the sequence:
FAU has the ball at the top of the key and is about to pass it to the player cutting towards the basket in front of him.
Here you can see the FAU player receiving the ball right by the ACC logo. Jake Layman, who was guarding Botley on the perimeter, gets pulled into the lane to try to stop him and or the pass. Unfortunately, that leaves Botley unguarded.
Botley catches the pass, Layman is screened from being able to run back out to defend, and Botley hits one of his four three pointers of the game.
While this was a defensive lapse for Layman, he certainly made up for it on the offensive end, which brings us to our next takeaway...
Jake Layman needs to get shot opportunities
Layman is arguably Maryland's best player this season. His Offensive rating is 128.7, the best on the team and 115th nationally. He also leads the team in eFG% at 57.1. Jake might have games where he doesn't score 22, but he gives Maryland the best chance at winning when he's given shot opportunities. In Maryland's seven wins this year, Layman has taken, on average, 12.3 shots per game. In the Terps' four loses, he's taken, on average, just ten shots per game.
Nick Faust is more effective coming off the bench
In yesterday's win, Nick Faust entered the game and had an immediate, positive impact, quickly scoring eight points, dishing out several assists and letting the game come to him, rather than forcing up contested shots. He finished the game with five assists and just two turnovers. And while Faust had some questionable decision making in the second half, his play in general off the bench seems to be producing a more positive result than when he was starting. Here's an example of one of the great passes he made yesterday, getting the ball to Shaq Cleare, who got behind the FAU zone.
Faust has the ball at the top of the key, notices Shaq Cleare, who has wondered in behind the FAU zone. Faust starts driving towards the basket, pulling defenders towards him.
As Faust drives, he dishes off to Shaq, who is left unguarded and scores an easy basket. Perhaps he should play some more time at the one, backing up Peters until Allen returns?
A few other quick notes:
Shaq Cleare might have played his best game of the season, finishing with 10 points, five rebounds and two blocks.
Roddy Peters made some magnificent passes on Saturday, further solidifying his position as the starting point guard. He finished with five assists.
Maryland missed several easy shots on Saturday that would have allowed them to put the game away. They need those shots to start falling before they get into ACC play.
Maryland did a pretty good job attacking the zone on Saturday, using crisp ball movement to work the ball around the outside, while also getting the ball in the paint to an open player. Here is one sequence of ball movements that resulted in a Dez Wells three pointer.
The ball is currently at the top of the key, with Layman.
The ball has now gone from Smotrycz to Layman, to Peters and is about to end up in Wells' hands in the corner, where he'll take and make a three pointer.
Dez receives the ball and makes the three, somewhat uncontested.
What other observations did you make about yesterday's game?