Maryland basketball: What to watch for next year

So today, I was extremely bored and on YouTube, I discovered you can watch the majority of the Maryland-Duke ACC tournament game (only a few minutes were skipped). After watching the game, I really question how analysts believe Maryland will struggle next year. A couple things that I noticed were:

  • Defensive intensity/pressure: it seemed that each Duke possession, Maryland was pressuring so hard that Duke had to take a contested jump shot or Plumlee tried to do a post move (and mostly failed against the superior Len). There were a couple of possessions where Suliman was able to get through the lane and hit a floater or mid-range shot. However, still believe that our defense was the primary reason why Duke shot so poorly that game, notably 3-20 from three-point range. With a whole year to gel and fix the minor issues, I believe that this intensity will be able to only improve next year.
  • Dez Wells: need I say more? There were so many possessions where Dez handled the ball (which should be our 3rd PG option over Faust) and recognized the defense not getting back in time or out of position that Dez was able to take advantage and hit a layup or jump shot. His dominant playmaking ability should only improve next year. With a plethora of options, I think offense should be the last of our concerns.
  • And one thing that, unfortunately, won’t help us next year: Len vs. Plumlee. Plumlee attended Duke for 4 years and was always considered a top big in the country. Len started playing basketball in America for just two years. The ability for Len to dominate Plumlee for the majority of the game is astounding. I think this speaks volume about our coaching and about Len’s work ethic. I know Trayvon Reed, 2014 center, loved Maryland so much because of how we were able to develop Len. To take a raw player and transform him into an eventual top-10 player in this year’s draft is truly remarkable. Hats off to Turge and Co.
  • Our biggest issue that doomed us in many games: Turnovers. So many possessions, Maryland was sloppy not because of defensive pressure, but because we were just lazy. Many plays during the game, Faust just lost control of the ball on minimal pressure. Another play, Seth was called for a carry from a low-pressure double team. Yes, that can be credited to the fact that our team was very young, but reducing the turnovers has to be their biggest concern. I’ll never forget how turnovers was, IMO, the main reason for our collapse at home against FSU this year. As Seth will most likely be the #2 option down the road for Maryland, I think that if this is something he can truly work on, then our PG woes will soon be forgotten.

With all of this said, I find it hard to believe people are down on us. And although Len did play well this game, there were large stretches of the game where he was not in, and Cleare and Mitchell were able to step up and help minimize Plumlee’s effectiveness. Heck, one play Mitchell was guarding Quinn Cook and Chuck shut him down and forced Cook to put up a highly-contested jump shot. All in all, I think there should be more optimism than worry about next year’s Maryland team. This is a team that, majority of the time, played tough. With another year of chemistry, incoming freshman Roddy Peters handling the PG role, I think that this team will dance come March. Now will they compete for an ACC regular season title? That remains to be seen. But with Cuse, Duke, UNC, UVA, Pitt, and ND, I won’t say that it’s likely, but I can say that we are a team that should be feared and has the ability to contend through consistent play. I just wish we don’t have to wait another five months for the season to start.

<!--EndFragment-->Btw, came across a Duke site complaining about Maryland. Doesn't surprise me:

Another thing: at 21:22 on the YouTube video, Jake Layman took about 4 steps with no travel call. Watching Coach K and the Dukies yell was hilarious.

You can watch the full game here:

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