Maryland beat Bowie State, 89-47, in the Terps' last exhibition game of the season on Saturday. Afterward, Mark Turgeon and a few of his players talked about the game and the team's progress ahead of the start of the regular season, which comes on Friday night against Wagner.
Jake Layman started at his usual small forward spot, but he played a good bit of power forward for Turgeon on Saturday. Given Maryland's smallish nature this year (especially sans the injured Evan Smotrycz), that should become a trend for at least a while. Turgeon has said repeatedly he trusts Layman to handle that job defensively, while Layman is excited about the matchup possibilities in that spot.
Here's Turgeon, on Layman:
"I think he has really become a good defender. You think about a year ago, and Jake wasn't a very good defender, now I'm not afraid to put him on anybody on the court. He's really improved. I think that's given him confidence too."
Here's Layman, on the defensive progression Turgeon's talked about so often:
"I think from my freshman year to now, I understand the game more and that has been a big part with my defense now. I think there is a bigger determination to play defense now."
And Layman, when I asked him what he likes and doesn't like about playing power forward:
"I love getting mismatches on those guys, who I think I’m quicker than. I think it’ll be good for us, being able to stretch the floor, especially, and hit the open shot. The most difficult thing, I think, will be once we get into our season, playing against some bigger guys, but with that, I think playing in practice against Robert Carter will definitely help me."
Dion Wiley finished in double figures with 13 points in 21 minutes. Here's Turgeon, on him:
"When the ball is in Dion's hands, I'm really comfortable that he is going to make a good decision. Some of his passes are phenomenal. His timing on those passes are really hard to teach, and his pace about his game is really hard to teach. His shooting wasn't here today, but he found a way to make a difference."
Wiley was 3-of-6 from the field and 1-of-4 from three-point range.
Michal Cekovsky had a bit of an interesting game. He's clearly raw offensively, but he made two advanced passes to set up easy flushes: a first-half outlet to a transitioning Dez Wells and, later, a ball-faking dish as the shot clock wound down to an open Damonte Dodd underneath the basket. Turgeon said Friday the game was moving too quickly for Cekovsky, and he mishandled a couple of balls in tight space. He finished with 4 points and 5 rebounds in 22 minutes.
Here's Turgeon, on Cekovsky:
"He had a good week of practice. I wanted to change our starting lineup the best we could. We started a bigger lineup and a smaller lineup last week with Jake at the four. We started a bigger lineup and just wanted to see how it worked. Defensively it was good for us. Ceko is further along defensively. He is still just a little bit late. He altered some shots that he is probably going to block later in the season, which will help us. I just thought he was a whole different player today than he was last Saturday. He wasn't nervous and was in the right spot most of the time."
Jon Graham, who Maryland will rely on for a lot of minutes this year, made 6 of his 9 foul shots after shooting just a hair over 50 percent last season. Here's Graham on his foul shooting:
"I knew that was going to be a very important aspect especially to work on, because I knew I was going to get fouled. I go to the basket, I’m crashing for offensive rebounds. Foul shots are going to be there. It’s very important that I continue to work on it, so I’ve prepared myself when ever the opportunity comes."
And Graham, on what's certain to be an enhanced minutes load from the 10.4 per game he averaged last year:
"I’m prepared to shoulder however many minutes I have to play. Whatever it takes, you know? This is my last year. There’s no more time to be tired."