1. Is Jake Layman being used properly?
Jake Layman didn't hit his first field goal until there was 14:50 left in the game. It was a fake from behind the arc on the baseline, followed by a drive to the bucket and an authoritative dunk, a foul and a free throw. Beautiful play. Prior to that, he was 0-for-6 including four misses from 3-point range. He finally hit a 3 with about 12:20 left in the game -- on his sixth attempt -- and went on to salvage a decent game of 12 points, five rebounds and three assists. Layman, however, was just 2-for-10 from the field and 1-for-7 from 3. Watching that dynamic dunk made me wonder whether we really want this skilled, athletic 6-foot-8 kid with NBA talent parked outside the 3-point line all game long? I want to see more of the slashing small forward/point forward version of Layman and less of the spot-shooting version. He's a matchup nightmare, but not just because he's 6-8 and can shoot. It's because he's 6-8, can shoot, and is an awesome athlete. We're not seeing enough of the athlete part.
2. Did Nick Faust just have a great game?
Quietly, Nick Faust played very, very well off the bench against Tulsa. He had 13 points, was 3-for-5 from the field, 5-of-5 from the line and 2-for-4 from 3. He also had a pair of rebounds and a pair of steals while playing exactly half the game. So first, I would propose we all take a moment and tip our glass to young Mr. Faust, who has had a tough year and felt some heat from Maryland's fan base because of it. But second, it raises an interesting question about his role going forward. He never fit properly at point in prior years because he's just not a consistent enough ball handler or decision maker; and he never fit properly at the 2 either because he hasn't shot consistently enough. By benching him, Turgeon may have stumbled into what Faust really is: a guy who can do everything well and can be thrust easily from the bench into whatever role the team needs him to fill just based on the flow of the game.
3. Is Jonathan Graham the starting center?
I'll go ahead and take this one. Yes, he is. He has to be. He runs better than Shaq, Mitchell and Dodd, he defends the rim better, he's the most athletic and the most refined. Shaq is laboring right now and has no place at all in games vs. undersized teams like Tulsa. Mitchell is on the small side to play the 5 and is probably best used as an energy boost off the bench. Dodd just plain isn't ready and is a lesser version of Graham at this young point in his career. Graham, hands down, changed the game Sunday vs. Tulsa and deserves to start Tuesday -- and beyond. It should be said, however, that Graham's game we're all so pleased with wasn't exactly a Tim Duncan-esque 20-13 night at the office. He did the little things that an interior role player should do, and we needed that, but that's all it was. Also, Shaq's strengths are neutralized against a smaller, running team like Tulsa. So, going forward, expect Graham to look a little less effective against bigger teams while Shaq becomes more relevant again. For now, though, based on hustle and interior athleticism, Graham should get the call.