Maryland basketball’s Damonte Dodd shut down Indiana center Thomas Bryant, a potential first-round pick in this year’s NBA draft, in the Terps’ 75-72 win in College Park. Doing a bit of everything, he finished with six points, six rebounds and a season-best six blocks.
“[Damonte] was terrific,” said Mark Turgeon. “That kid he was guarding down low is a big-time player. Damonte stayed on his feet, stayed on pump-fakes. He was great.”
With just under a minute to play, down 73-70, Indiana tried its luck down low. But Bryant’s shot met Dodd’s palm. Maryland held him scoreless in the final 19 minutes of the game.
Bryant came in averaging 12 points following a 20-point outing in a win over Illinois, but Dodd held him to what tied for a season-low six points on 2-of-8 shooting. He averages five free throw attempts per game, but against Maryland he took just two. The Hoosiers could get nothing going through their primary post option.
Dodd’s had problems with foul trouble throughout his career, but he showed terrific strength and discipline against Bryant. He only committed one first-half foul Tuesday night in a career-high 31 minutes. Dodd used his chest to absorb blows and his length to affect shots without over-committing.
It wasn’t just Dodd’s discipline and strength going one-on-one, but also his brilliance protecting the rim that stood out in of the best performances of his career. His replacements couldn’t provide the same presence, so Turgeon couldn’t keep him off the court.
He was also effective running high screens with Melo Trimble, who never struggled to find room to attack the basket. The Terrapins’ bigs have struggled to connect on screens and have had tendencies to make little contact with opposing defenders, but Dodd was a wall.
“Dodd’s the best screen-and-roll player in the league,” said Indiana coach Tom Crean. “He’s getting better and better all the time. He’s in such better shape. They’ve done a great job building him up. He totally plays his role.”
Dodd’s been a four-year project at Maryland, and he’s peaking at the perfect time considering the injuries the Terps have been hit with. He, Michal Cekovsky and Ivan Bender have all missed time to various sprains, fractures and concussions. Tuesday night was no different.
With Cekovsky missing his fourth straight game, the task of defending Bryant fell on Dodd, who was still less than 100 percent himself. During a one-possession victory in which every stop mattered, he came up big.
It’s been an impressive run for the 15-2 Terrapins, who can add a win over Indiana to their victory at Michigan. They still haven’t seen Purdue, Wisconsin or Minnesota, but they’re making big strides toward solidifying their place in the tournament despite all of their injuries.