Maryland basketball film review: Michal Cekovsky is perfect complement to Robert Carter Jr.

Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

The previous two posts in this series focused on the theme of how the Terps' gameplan vs. Georgetown highlighted the unique strengths of each big. I gave particular focus to Carter's 1-on-1 skill in the low post, and Dodd's ability as a screener.

Now, I want to take a look at how Maryland intends to utilize sophomore Michal Cekovsky. This will serve as a nice complement to the piece on Robert Carter. Both players can bend opposing defenses, but how they do so shows the stark contrast of their skillsets.

Carter succeeded vs. Georgetown with low-post isolations, then scoring on hooks and fadeaways. This back-to-the-basket approach is outside of Cekovsky's skillset, and that's not a knock on him. Cekovsky can still impact the offense in meaningful ways based on his size and agility.

I would expect Cekovsky to score the bulk of his points through three avenues. The first will be offensive rebounds. Keeping a 7'1" giant off the glass will require attention from opposing defenses, who may hesitate to leave Cekovsky to challenge a nearby shot.

The second will be a high-low game with the second big in the lineup. Cekovsky does not have the ball handling of Carter, and I would venture a guess that he dribbles the ball less than five times per game. As a result, he needs very low position in the lane to score effectively.

Here he is in secondary transition vs. Mount St. Mary's, posting up right under the basket. Cekovsky doesn't need to do much here to seal off the smaller defender, turning the lob from Dodd into a dunk.

Here's the high-low look again, this time from the Georgetown game. The play begins in one of Coach Turgeon's favorite formations, Horns. Bigs at the elbows and wings in the corners. A lot of Maryland's set plays start here. The play is ultimately unsuccessful because of an offensive foul called on Cekovsky, but this will be a dunk more often than not.

The third way for Cekovsky to score will be as the screener in a pick-and-roll. Maryland has two very capable creators in Trimble and Sulaimon, so they are going to run the high ball screen relentlessly. Furthermore, to contain Maryland's scoring guards, defending bigs are forced to stick tightly on the ball handler in a PnR. Cekovsky is agile enough to dive hard to the rim in these situations.

The help defense is late, but even when they do arrive, the wing stands no chance at contesting Cekovsky. He does a nice job of keeping his balance as he shimmies past the smaller defender.

Once Cekovsky establishes the threat of the dive, that's when the defense bends. Similar to how Carter's low-post game started drawing double-teams, Cekovsky as a roll man attracted more attention. Here's another PnR a minute later:

This time, Layman's defender is determined not to be late with his help defense responsibilities. In fact, he over helps several steps into the lane. The result is zero points, but getting Layman a wide open look from deep is always a win.

So again, just as with Carter's 1-on-1 low post game, Maryland adeptly uses Cekovsky's ability as a dive man in a pick-and-roll to force the defense's hand. Opponents have to walk a very fine line on when and where to send help.

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