Maryland dropped its second game of the season in the Baha Mar Hoops event championship to Louisville on Saturday morning in the Bahamas.
The Terps got off to another slow start, and while they came back, could not do enough to sustain their second-half run, eventually falling to the Cardinals, 63-55.
Maryland has a lot to work on on both ends of the floor. They got dominated in the rebounding battle and couldn't score when it needed to most due to an often stagnant and uncreative offensive performance.
It is early in the season, but Maryland has much to fix with just two nonconference games left on the schedule and Big Ten play starting next week.
Let’s take a look at some takeaways from Maryland’s loss to Louisville.
Maryland got dominated on the boards
Rebounding hadn't been an issue for Maryland this season likely because of the caliber of opponents the Terps have faced and the smaller teams they've gone against. But against its first power five opponent of the year, Maryland was destroyed on the glass all morning.
In the first half, Louisville had a total of 29 boards compared to Maryland’s 12. But it wasn't just on one end of the floor. The Cardinals were getting a plethora of offensive rebounds that created extra offensive possessions. Louisville struggled to make shots at a consistent level against Maryland, but with all the extra chances they got, they were able to score when needed.
Louisville had 12 first-half offensive rebounds that resulted in 14 second chance points. Maryland had one offensive board and zero second chance points in the first half.
“I don't know if I've ever had a team get beat that bad on the boards,” head coach Mark Turgeon said.
The game was a physical one, which Turgeon said he warned his team about beforehand. Whether it was effort, exhaustion or matter of strength, Louisville bullied Maryland on the glass.
Maryland has the capability of going big with both center Qudus Wahab and forward Julian Reese. Each guy plays a ton of minutes on a regular basis, but they have almost exclusively been staggered, meaning they are never on the floor together.
Against a bigger team like Louisville that dominated the rebounding battle, going with two big men at the same time could have been a solution, but Turgeon elected not to go that route. Maryland’s guards and forwards did not properly box out the Cardinals constantly rotating fresh faces
The rebounding was improved in the second half, but the damage was done on the glass and despite a second-half run, Maryland could not overcome its poor first-half performance, particularly on the boards.
Maryland lost the rebounding battle 51-25 and gave up 17 offensive rebounds, while the Terps collected just two. Louisville knotted 16 second chance points from those offensive rebounds.
“We can sit here and talk about how we can't score and can't make free throws, can't make layups, but you know, you got to rebound better and that's the key of the game,” Turgeon said.
Maryland continues to struggle offensively
After a terrific offensive performance against Richmond on Thursday night when Maryland put up 86 points, the Terps proved that was an anomaly more than consistency. Maryland followed that performance with a loss to Louisville on Saturday where they scored 55 points.
The Terps had just two players in double figures and shot 38% from the field, 29% from three and 65% from the free throw line. Maryland is still struggling to figure out its offensive identity. At times, they are pushing the ball in transition with explosive point guard Fatts Russell. Other times, they are showing a four-out-one-in look with their big man Qudus Wahab. However, Wahab struggled to convert shots close to the basket on Saturday, going 3-9 from the field for 7 points.
“If Q’s not scoring one-on-one, we’re not going to be great,” Turgeon said. “We need him to score one-on-one down there.”
Whatever look Maryland displays, the consistency hasn't been there all year and all five players are rarely on the same page. After Hakim Hart had a breakthrough performance on Thursday with 24 points, he followed it up with a two-point performance on Saturday and attempted just two shots.
Eric Ayala, typically the most consistent offensive threat for Maryland, also didn't have his best performance against Louisville. He had just nine points on 3-for-7 shooting, although he was in foul trouble and tweaked his ankle at one point.
Maryland had its season-low in assists with ten against Louisville, in large part due to isolation basketball played instead of solid ball movement and making the extra pass.
“We’re not a great passing team,” Turgeon said. “We got to get better passing the ball and once we do that and moving the ball side-to-side, we’ll be better. We’re driving to score, we’re not driving to make plays for other people right now.”
The season is still young, and Maryland has the pieces to be a good offensive team. The Terps just need to find their identity before it's too late.
This time, Maryland’s couldn't overcome its poor first half
Maryland has trailed at halftime of every single game this season, except its first game against Quinnipiac. In many instances, Maryland was good enough to come back in the second half against non-power five opponents. However, Louisville was a different story.
Maryland was much better on both ends of the floor in the second half. The Terps went on an 11-0 run at one point and did not allow the Cardinals to score a single point for about seven minutes. However, despite taking the lead, it wasn't enough for Maryland to pull out the victory,
These rough first halves are becoming part of Maryland’s identity. After Richmond, Turgeon said “it’s just who we are right now,” in regard to the slow starts. He’s certainly right, but if Maryland is going to compete with the top of the Big Ten, it won't be able to overcome poor first-half showings on a consistent basis.
While no one wants to fight back into games because of poor performance early on, this run has shown this Maryland team has a ton of fight and refuses to quit. The resilience of this group so far this season is constantly on display when the Terps have to do everything in their power to get back in the game.
That doesn't always translate to wins, but as Maryland, or if Maryland, begins to figure things out offensively and get in a rhythm, it will be encouraging for Maryland fans to know it is a resilient group.
“I didn't know what I had flying down here,” Turgeon said. “I got a competitive group. ... We really competed and we got a lot better.”