In the Maryland basketball team's last exhibition before regular season play, the Terps romped on Saturday, beating an overmatched Bowie State team, 89-47, before a sparse crowd at XFINITY Center.
The game's result wasn't important, other than that a loss against the Division II Bulldogs would have been humiliating for Maryland. The Terps rendered such an outcome impossible from early on, scoring the game's first points on a Dez Wells transition dunk and never relinquishing the lead from there. The Terps were up 10 points by the time the game was seven minutes old, and their advantage only swelled. By halftime, they led 48-15.
Playing at both the third and fourth spots in Maryland's lineup, Jake Layman had a dominant afternoon. The junior forward finished with 18 points on 7-of-8 shooting and pulled down 7 rebounds. He had a couple of transition dunks and looked comfortable playing defense in the post – granted, against smallish competition.
Wells was efficient, too, scoring 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting. Coming off the bench, Dion Wiley made a couple of three-pointers en route to a 13-point day.
The Terrapins started a more traditional lineup than the small-ball group they started against San Francisco State a week ago: Melo Trimble at point guard, Wells at shooting guard, Layman at small forward and both Jon Graham and Michal Cekovsky in the front-court. In reserve, Wiley, Damonte Dodd, Jared Nickens and Richaud Pack all saw significant minutes, consistent with the roughly nine-man rotation Maryland is likely to use to start the year.
The full Maryland box score from the afternoon:
Three things we learned
1. Maryland's free throw shooting looked improved. The Terps were not a good foul shooting team last season, shooting a cumulative 68 percent. They were better than that on Saturday, though the difference narrowed a bit as the game wore on. Maryland wound up at 72 percent as a team on Saturday, an OK rate across 39 attempts. Looking deeper, though, positive signs exist. Graham was a 51 percent free throw shooter last year, but he drilled a much better 6 of 9 tries against Bowie State. Cekovsky was 2-of-2, while Dodd was 1-of-2. That's 9 makes in 13 attempts for Maryland's primary big men (minus the injured but smooth-shooting Evan Smotrycz), which is about 70 percent. If the team's guards shoot well going forward to supplement that, the Terrapins will be in good shape from the stripe.
2. Jake Layman was aggressive and comfortable. Layman started the game in his usual small forward spot, but he moved to play power forward in spurts as the game moved along. He looked rangy and comfortable at the four spot, though, as Mark Turgeon pointed out on Friday, his competition there wasn't much bigger than an ordinary power conference small forward. Layman was effective in transition and looked technically sound. He's also a better ball-handler and passer than most power forwards, and he's an infinitely superior outside threat than almost anyone who he'll match up against at that spot. If he can handle post defense against stronger forwards, Maryland's onto something.
3. Bowie State is so bad that we couldn't have learned much. Maryland did a lot of good things in this game. Cekovsky got more comfortable over the course of 40 minutes, the Terps' defensive rotations were smooth and they got a few pretty finishes off of turnovers and shrewd outlet passes. But there wasn't a ton to see here, because the Bulldogs didn't belong on the same floor as Maryland. They let the Terps shoot 58 percent from the field and only shot 22 percent themselves. On three-pointers, Bowie State shot a gross 5-for-29. They made two of their first 20 shots and only got marginally better after that, and no matter how stingy Maryland's defense might have been, the Bulldogs made it look tighter. Still, this was probably a helpful tune-up for Maryland, and the Terps should be pleased with their overall play.