On some level, the Maryland men's basketball team is lucky to be playing Hawaii in the NCAA Tournament's second round on Sunday. On Ken Pomeroy's index, the Rainbow Warriors are the 30th-rated team out of the 32 that have advanced this far, and Maryland is certainly better on paper.
But the Warriors have one of the tournament's great yet unheralded players in Stefan Jankovic, a 6'11 redshirt junior forward who has both a center and guard's skill set. And as Maryland prepares for Sunday's game (7:10 p.m. ET, TBS), Jankovic is surely occupying a lot of real estate in the minds of the Terps' coaches. He's Hawaii's most important player to watch, and he's the most dangerous obstacle the Terps will have to overcome en route to the Sweet 16.
Based on a film review and Jankovic's statistical profile, here's a look at what Maryland is facing:
Jankovic is dangerous from anywhere on the court.
These are Jankovic's shooting splits this season:
Two-pointers: 61.7 percent (137-of-222)
Three-pointers: 38.5 percent (30-of-78)
Foul shots: 77.5 percent (138-of-178)
True shooting: 64.6 percent (30th nationally among qualifiers)
Jankovic's game has evolved over time. As a freshman at Missouri in 2012-13, he took 60 percent of his shot attempts from beyond the arc. After transferring to Hawaii, those rates the last two years are 29 percent and 26 percent. Not coincidentally, he draws about twice as many free throw opportunities per shot attempt now, and he makes them.
In total, Jankovic's per-game stats look like this:
He can catch the ball far from the hoop and move inward from there.
Jankovic is highly capable of scoring with his left hand from the post, as he demonstrated in a sequence against Hawaii during Hawaii's Big West final victory last week.
Jankovic can catch the ball anywhere and float towards the basket, which is a nice asset to have.
He can run the pick-and-pop.
The pick-and-pop play is a pretty simple one when it works. In one instance against Long Beach State, it sort of didn't, as Jankovic set a screen for a guard and then jumped free for a three-pointer. Except, the defender stayed right with him, so Jankovic just faced him and drained an NBA-range triple.
He's long, and he runs like a gazelle.
He's 6'11 and listed at 235 pounds. He's not lumbering at all, and he can play in transition better than your garden-variety 6'11 college basketball player. He can sprint down the floor.
Jankovic likes to stand in front of the hoop and swat people.
He's a good shot blocker, too. It remains to be seen how this will work against a team with Maryland's size, but Jankovic appears to be really good at standing near the basket and turning shots away – whether just by standing straight up like a statue or rotating swiftly across the key to give weak-side help.
Jankovic doesn't even need to have good position, because he's got such a wingspan that smaller guards simply can't do anything about him. In this sense, he's a serious threat on defense, especially for teams that pride themselves on getting guards running downhill toward the basket – teams such as, say, Maryland.
Obviously, I've cherry-picked video clips that demonstrate the best of Jankovic's game. He's not nearly as perfect as he looks in this selection of footage, because nobody is. But Jankovic's statistical profile reveals a game without any real weakness, and he's put together a legitimate career season.
Maryland is playing one of the best players left in the field. How well the Terps game-plan for Jankovic could be the difference between winning and losing a game that stands to be very close.