Maryland men’s basketball improved to .500 with a 68-55 win over South Alabama on Saturday. The game was close entering the second half, but the Terps (3-3) pulled away for the victory.
Here are three takeaways from the game.
Three-point shooting is a serious problem
Maryland’s three-point shooting was a concern heading into the season, but it’s been even worse than expected. On Saturday, the Terps shot 31 threes and made only five — their worst showing thus far.
This season, Maryland is shooting only 21.4 percent from distance. Per KenPom.com, that’s the sixth-worst mark in the entire nation and the worst among power conference teams.
Donta Scott’s 3-for-8 three-point shooting performance against South Alabama was the only one that will hold up when competition gets tougher. Jahmir Young added two threes of his own, but missed his other nine attempts. Jamie Kaiser Jr., who garnered preseason hype as a knockdown shooter, went 0-for-5, as did DeShawn Harris-Smith.
Just over 41 percent of the Terps’ field goal attempts this season have been threes, which is just inside the top 100 nationally (the national average is 37.3 percent). Yet only 23 percent of their points are coming on three-pointers, which is in the bottom 50. Perhaps it would be beneficial for the team to ease itself into the middle class of three-point attempts, but it’s not as if Maryland is heaving shots from beyond the arc at a far higher clip than other teams — it’s just that those shots, some of which are wide open, aren’t falling right now.
“I know eventually we won’t struggle to shoot the basketball,” Terps head coach Kevin Willard said. “But I think it’s a little part of a growth factor that you have to let these guys figure it out on their own, too.”
No bench production
Maryland managed to score 68 points on Saturday — not a particularly interesting note until you take a look at where those points came from. Julian Reese, Scott, Jordan Geronimo and Young were the only Terps to score, with the rest of the team combining to shoot 0-for-12 from the field.
Harris-Smith was the starter who didn’t score. As a freshman, he’ll naturally have his ups and downs, and his jump shot was never meant to be his strong suit. He is at his best when attacking the rim, and is still able to impact the game in other ways.
“I have a lot of confidence that DeShawn — he’s going to come around,” said Willard. “He’s doing so many good things offensively. He’s got five assists. You know, he’s pushing the pace. He’s seeing guys, making good reads … eventually it’s going to go for him.”
Fellow freshman Kaiser also went scoreless, errant on all five of his shots. Jahari Long and Noah Batchelor also saw the floor, but didn’t contribute on the offensive end.
Some of the Terps’ inability to generate offense outside of the aforementioned four players stems from a shortening of the team’s rotations, but it’s concerning to see such little production from the bench this early in the season.
Geronimo’s breakout game?
It seems as though Maryland has figured out its starting lineup. Geronimo has started at forward in all but two games this season, and he’s more than earned the right to keep doing so.
Geronimo scored 14 points against the Jaguars, marking his best offensive showing since arriving in College Park during the offseason. The Indiana transfer was a key force in Maryland’s sizable scoring run to start the second half that put the game out of South Alabama’s reach.
On the defensive end, Geronimo’s combination of size and athleticism allows him to guard almost any position on the floor. Not to mention that his presence allows Scott to shift to his more natural wing position, which creates additional pressure on opponents. He could be seen Saturday grabbing six rebounds, snatching two steals and adding three assists.
“You know, just being that guy to make those hustle plays — that’s what I do. That’s kind of my identity,” Geronimo said. “So I kind of just try my best to emphasize that.”
“I think he’s starting to get a good feel for what we’re trying to do defensively and what we’re trying to do offensively,” Willard added.
Geronimo’s statistical output on Saturday may not be one to grow accustomed to, but his potential to impact the game is undeniable, and it offered a peek at why.