After opening its 100th season with a win over Delaware, Maryland men’s basketball takes a short trip down the road to take on Navy in the Veterans Classic on Friday night.
The Terps won the opener despite watching a 22-point lead dwindle to as low as three. Freshman forward Jalen Smith led the way with a 19-point, 13-rebound double-double, and added two clutch blocks. In doing so, Smith became the first Maryland freshman debut with a double-double since Buck Williams put up 10 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in 1978.
The Terps head to Annapolis to take on the Midshipmen, who opened their season with a 67-44 road loss at Old Dominion. Navy plays host to the Veteran’s Classic this year, which will also feature a matchup between Providence and Wichita State, preceding the Maryland game at 6 p.m. ET.
Maryland and Navy will tip off in Alumni Hall following Providence-Wichita State. The second game is slated to tip off at 8:30 p.m. ET on CBS Sports Network.
Navy Midshipmen (0-1)
2017-18 record: 20-12, 11-7 Patriot League
Head coach Ed DeChellis is in his eighth season helming the Midshipmen and has led the team to 55 wins over the last three seasons. The team’s 20 wins last season were the most the program had since 1999-2000, and were good enough to finish tied for third in the Patriot League. The Midshipmen also led the league in scoring defense, rebounding margin and offensive rebounds per game.
Players to know
George Kiernan, senior, forward, 6’7/225, No. 21. The Hillsdale, Indiana, native was the fourth-leading scorer on last season’s team and upped that to second-best with 11.5 points per game in the Patriot League. He led the Midshipmen with 10 points and five rebounds in their opener, despite fouling out in 27 minutes.
Hasan Abdullah, senior, guard, 6’0/195, No. 2. Likely to be tasked with guarding Anthony Cowan Jr. in the matchup, Abdullah is Navy’s top returning scorer. He also made a team-high 49 triples last season, and tied for the team lead with 3.7 assists per game. His six points in the season opener came on a 2-of-5 performance from beyond the arc.
John Carter Jr., freshman, guard, 6’4/188, No. 1. The freshman earned a start in his first-ever collegiate game and finished as the second-highest scorer on the team with eight points and added a team-high 10 rebounds in the effort. He signed with Navy over an offer from Campbell.
Scoring defense. DeChellis’ Midshipmen have finished among the top 40 in the nation for scoring defense each of the past three seasons. Despite losing its season opener to Old Dominion by 23, Navy still held the Monarchs to just 34.5 percent from inside the arc. The Terps will need to focus on getting quality shots inside the arc.
Getting good shots. One of Navy’s biggest weaknesses is getting quality looks. The Midshipmen have just a 29.5 percent effective field goal percentage, which factors in the quality of the shots in addition to makes and misses. It’s early in the season, so that could improve, but it’s also a problem Navy had last season, when it ranked 222nd in the nation, according to KenPom.
Three things to watch
1. Does Maryland’s bench get any deeper? The Terps had six players play 20 minutes and no one else play more than 10 minutes. That resulted in just 10 bench points, with six of those coming from Eric Ayala, who added a team-high five assists in 28 minutes. Maryland needs more than six contributors if it wants to survive on a nightly basis.
“Just that night I didn’t feel as deep,” head coach Mark Turgeon told reporters on a conference call Thursday. “We had a nice lead that went away so quickly, so I think every night is going to be different who I play. We got about five, six or seven guys — just figuring who eight, nine and 10 are going to be.”
2. Do the Terps shake off the rust from beyond the arc? After hitting two of its first four three-point attempts against Delaware, Maryland missed its last 15 and finished 2-of-19 from deep. It was promising to see Darryl Morsell open the scoring with a swished three, but the rest was uninspiring. Regardless, Turgeon appears unworried.
“They zoned us 25 possessions, we felt like we got 19 good shots in those 25 possessions and we got four shots that weren’t quite as good and two turnovers,” Turgeon explained. “We felt like our execution was really good against the zone and that’s what matters. We have good shooters. It was just one of those nights where we start to miss and it just snowballed on us a little bit.”
3. Can Bruno Fernando stay out of foul trouble? It appeared as if Fernando was on his way to a monster game before foul trouble derailed him. He’d foul out late in the game, and Delaware forward Eric Carter would end up with 29 points. Smith provided quality minutes and anchor abilities down the stretch, but the team is clearly at its best with both of them on the floor. With less height to deal with, Fernando could fare better.
KenPom: Maryland 76, Navy 62
Me: Maryland 74, Navy 60
A previous version of this story stated the game would air on BTN. That has been corrected.