Maryland basketball season review: Evan Smotrycz

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Our season review and 2014-2015 look-ahead series for each current player on Maryland's basketball roster continues with Evan Smotrycz.

Evan Smotrycz

#1, 6'8", 230 lbs, forward

Smotrycz just completed his junior season at Maryland and started in 28 of the 31 games he appeared in. He hails from Reading, Mass. and came to Maryland by way of the University of Michigan, where he played his first two years of eligibility before transferring. Out of high school, Smotrycz was a consensus 4-star and top-100 prospect.

Stats

Though Smotrycz was a player some fans loved to hate (and I'll ask nicely: please, please keep your criticism respectful in the comments here), his statistics do little to support whatever lack-of-popularity issues he has. Smotrycz was third on the team in minutes (27.9), fourth in points (11.0), second in rebounds (6.0), second in 3-point shooting (36.7%), third in free throw shooting (74.6%) and fifth in assists (1.7), while his overall field goal shooting (40.1%) did leave a little bit to be desired for a forward.

Moving to KenPom advanced stats, most of Smo's numbers fall into the meaty part of the curve. On the upside, his defensive rebounding percentage of 17.5 was second on the team behind only Charles Mitchell, which should tell you that he was pretty good at blocking out and keeping opposing bangers off the offensive glass (surely surprising some of his critics). Also, Smo's turnover percentage of 15.7 was Maryland's second best behind only Seth Allen (14.8).

Defense was a common point of harsh criticism for poor Smo -- and perhaps it was fair, particularly when it came to making reads and reacting quickly in help situations -- but advanced statistics actually reveal him to be one of Maryland's better defensive players. He ranks second among regulars in defensive rating (99.8) - trailing only Mitchell (97.1) and just ahead of Faust (99.9) -- while in defensive win shares he's tied for third with Faust (each at 1.5) behind co-leaders Dez Wells and Jake Layman (both 1.7).

High point

Maryland seemed to be sunk down 62-59 with less than 10 seconds left in regulation of a must-have regular season game at Clemson, but Smotrycz buried a 3-pointer to force overtime. He finished that game with 19 points including 4-of-11 3s. Other highlights included Smo's torrid first half at home against No. 5 Virginia when he made three 3s in the first eight minutes of the game to help build a lead Maryland would need every point of in an eventual win.

Low point

A couple come to mind, but none bigger than Smotrycz sitting out the season-ending loss to FSU in the ACC Tournament due to back spasms. Another lowlight for Smotrycz came in Charlottesville, where he missed his last seven field-goal attempts in the second half and finished 3-for-13 from the field (2-for-9 from 3) as UVA pulled away in what looked to be a winnable game.

2014-15 outlook

Whether the reason was body language, inconsistent shooting, help defense or whatever, Smotrycz was far from a fan favorite in his debut season as a Terp, but none the less, he was an absolutely vital player who Maryland relied on heavily. Expect no less next season, when Smotrycz should be a likely starter again at the 4. The basket-attacking ability of Dez Wells and Seth Allen is likely to leave Smotrycz and fellow spot-shooter Jake Layman with plenty of chances to fire away, and Smotrycz should up his averages both in scoring and rebounding. Evan Smotrycz has been much-maligned by commenters, but he's got length, a sweet stroke and the ability to mix it up in the paint. He did nothing last season -- his first season -- to diminish his standing on the team or with his coaches, so he seems bound to play just as big a role next season. Here's one voice pleading for some of you critics to give him a second chance and a fresh start.

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