Full game tape of Maryland basketball's opening exhibition against San Francisco State is now available for BTN Plus subscribers on their site now, for those not interested in waiting to see the new guys play. The issues with the (lack of) live broadcast carry over to the tape -- it's an eerie experience, with no crowd noise and only the PA announcer, so I only made it through 10 minutes because, hey, I have other stuff going on. Since only a limited number of you are actually able to watch the broadcast, I thought I'd share my thoughts.
If you need to familiarize yourself with what happened or the box score, check out our recap.
1. Michal Cekovksy looked better than his statline.
The true freshman did a lot of the little things well and got into good positions on offense and defense, but just doesn't look quite ready to be fully active within the gameplan. I did not think Cekovsky looked completely lost out there as some have suggested, but it may be a few months before he's ready to play a real role.
2. Melo Trimble is so, so good.
The freshman lived up to his billing in the opener, making a ton of three pointers (and looking really good doing it) while getting to the free throw line by driving to the lane and drawing fouls. There was one particular play when Trimble received a screen at the top of the lane from Jake Layman and put up a shot so quickly that no defender in the country could have possibly adjusted to defend it. He made the shot, naturally, and I imagine we'll be seeing a lot of quickfire Trimble.
3. Jake Layman is playing more aggressively.
This has been something Maryland fans have been wanting for two years now -- Layman's a fine shooter, but his skillset lends perfectly to a slasher, especially considering the number of other shooters surrounding him in the offense. He had turnover issues, but none that I saw were egregiously poor.
4. This team feels different.
Yes, they were playing a Division II opponent, but Maryland actually...made sense against San Francisco State. Over the past few years, even when the Terps were beating up on smaller teams they still didn't seem to make sense, especially on the offensive end. Maryland passed the ball around a ton against San Francisco State, showing a kind of offensive cohesion rarely seen over the previous three years. We'll have to see if that holds up against stiffer competition, but early signs are encouraging.
5. Richaud Pack will be important to this team's success.
The senior transfer had impressive efficiency numbers during his time at North Carolina A&T, and showed promising ability during his time Saturday at both guard positions. Pack is a good scoring option who can shoot from three (at one point he got fouled from NBA three-point range and still made the shot) or drive inside, and is a solid enough ball-handler that he can man the point while Trimble rests.
6. This team can SHOOT.
The newcomers (other than Cekovksy) all made multiple three-point attempts, and each of them just have smooth shots from beyond the arc. We talked earlier about Trimble's quick release and Pack's scoring ability, but Wiley and Nickens should provide offensive boosts off the bench.
7. Jon Graham may be the best rebounder on the team.
Dez Wells might be second-best. Therein lies the problem, especially with Evan Smotrycz out. The hope is Damonte Dodd can turn into a serviceable rebounder and Maryland makes enough shots that their rebounding issues are mitigated, but it could come back to haunt them.
8. Damonte Dodd looks better, but will mostly be a defensive presence.
As rumored, the offseason was kind to Maryland's likely starting center, but don't start expecting any high point totals from him any time soon. Against a much smaller team, Dodd had an easy team altering shots inside the paint (picking up five blocks), but most importantly limited himself to just two fouls in 17 minutes (he played less than Cekovsky's 18, so who starts may not matter so much).
9. Maryland's starting lineup probably seems set.
We knew that Trimble, Wells and Layman had starting jobs locked down, which leaves two spots open during Smotrycz's absence. One big man position will go to Dodd or Graham (likely Dodd due to his defensive ability), while one guard position will go to Pack, Wiley or Nickens (likely Pack due to his experience and defensive ability).
10. Maryland has depth at guard, but pray nothing more happens to the frontcourt.
Smotrycz's injury has already put them in a tough place (especially without Trayvon Reed), and they're barely holding on as is up front. With the amount of talent they have at the guard positions (and the new-found versatility of players like Layman), Maryland should be able to survive the month without their starting power forward -- as long as everyone else stays healthy.