Maryland continued their strong opening week of the season, following up an easy victory over Wagner with a blowout win against a game Central Connecticut State Monday night. The Terps cruised to a 93-57 victory over Central despite 24 points from Matt Mobley, helped in large part by 27 points from Dez Wells.
Maryland started Melo Trimble, Richaud Pack, Dez Wells, Jake Layman and Damonte Dodd, and started off strong, with especially good play from their Big Three of Trimble, Wells and Layman. Wells ended up scoring a team-high 10 points in the first half, while Layman contributed six and Trimble had three with six rebounds and three assists.
Maryland's bench players entered pretty much en masse -- Dion Wiley, Jared Nickens, Michal Cekovsky and Jon Graham all in at once -- and they got to work. Wiley hit all three of his first half shots, including a three-pointer from NBA range, Nickens hit one, Cekovsky picked up a block and Graham made two shots in the post.
Wiley was one of the more impressive players in the game. In 19 minutes, the freshman scored 10 points with five rebounds and two assists.
Michal Cekovsky also impressed at times. He had shown promise through the first three games but looked like we may have to wait until next year for him to make a significant impact in the game, but the 7'1 freshman had four points, two rebounds and three blocks, at one point putting together a dominating stretch where he altered a number of Central shots.
Central made a run in the first half on the strength of Mobley and Khalen Cumberland, who combined to score 22 of the Blue Devils' 26 first half points. Maryland led 38-26 at the break, and ran away with it in the second period.
Three things we learned
1. This team moves the ball better. Yes, they've played against bad competition, but through four games this can not be ignored. Maryland passes the ball in a way they haven't under Mark Turgeon, no matter the opponent. The ball moves more crisply and with more purpose, giving a much more coherent sense of what the offense is trying to accomplish. The team finished with 15 assists against 10 turnovers, with one of those turnovers occurring during walk-on time.
2. Dez Wells and Jake Layman are a fearsome scoring duo. Whenever Maryland hit into a rut offensively (it happened from time to time), either Wells or Layman (or both) would inevitably come through with a big play.
Wells did a bit of everything in the game. He drove into the lane for emphatic dunks, got to the free throw line, squared up in the post to back down defenders, hit mid-range shots and even drained some three pointers. He finished with 27 points on 10 of 15 shooting, making all three of his three point attempts.
Layman continued his more aggressive play of late, hitting a few three pointers and driving into the lane to score on more than one occasion. The junior finished with 14 points with four rebounds.
3. This is far from a perfect product. Rebounding is a concern (Melo Trimble was the team's leader, which is probably not a sustainable outcome) and the team had turnover issues in the first half, particularly when the freshmen were in the game. Maryland has looked very good against bad teams, and that's encouraging, but it's important to remember how far this team still has to grow.
But this is how it's supposed to be. Maryland now has upperclassmen using their experience to help guide the freshmen through some rough patches, instead of needing young players to do it all before they're ready. That should pay major dividends down the line, and this could be a fun year.