Welcome back to the Testudo Times film room. All season long, we’ll be breaking down the X’s and O’s of Maryland men’s basketball.
First up is Wednesday’s 67-51 loss to Clemson in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Spoiler alert: The film is not pretty.
Maryland shot 33% from three-point range, 40% from the field and had 15 total turnovers. And only one player reached double-digit scoring for the Terps. Let’s get to the film to see what went wrong for the Terps in their first loss of the season.
Turnovers contributed to the poor offensive start
Turnovers have been a problem all season for the Terps. This is now the third time in five games that Maryland has turned the ball over at least 15 times. While it didn’t matter against prior weaker opponents, giving the ball up 15 times to a scrappy, tough Clemson team was too much to overcome. And it certainly won’t result in wins against talented Big Ten opponents.
In head coach Mark Turgeon’s post-game press conference, he lamented that his team played selfishly on offense. “We were just standing watching a guy dribble,” he said. Turgeon’s analysis is spot on and the film agrees.
This is the type of stagnant offense that the Terps displayed all game, with five guys on the perimeter watching one guy try to make a play. In this instance, the ball is swung to the right side of the floor. Jairus Hamilton then hands it off to Hakim Hart, who fails to beat his man off the dribble. Hart kicks it out to Aaron Wiggins on the perimeter, and the junior gets called with a traveling violation.
The main problem with this offense is not only that four guys are watching the ball, but that the ball fails to ever make it to the other side of the court. The ball stays on the right side of the court and there is not a single reversal.
When there is no reversal of the ball, it bails the defense out. Maryland should be forcing the defense to work, but with five guys on the perimeter and the ball staying on one side of the floor, the defense’s job becomes much easier, allowing them to force turnovers such as this one.
This is another example of the discombobulated offensive display from Maryland. Clemson is a great man-to-man defensive team. The Tigers have quick hands, move their feet well, plug the passing lanes and are always in the right help positions.
Darryl Morsell tries to make a play here with a right hand drive. The problem is, he is going into crowded space. Galin Smith should be on the block and opposite the ball when a guard is driving downhill. Instead, he comes on the ball side block, bringing his defender over, which creates more crowded lanes. Morsell then dribbles into traffic and loses the ball. This poor spacing by Maryland led to a multitude of turnovers all game.
Here is one more example of bad offense that led to a turnover. Once again, Maryland is doing a ton of ball watching instead of moving. Hart catches the ball and rips right, trying to make a play. However, on his attack, he takes flight off of one foot with no plan around the rim. This allows the Clemson defender to step up and take a charge. If Hart had come to a two-foot jump stop, he would have been able to make a clean pass to Reese Mona in the corner for a three-pointer.
While much of the film for the Terps is grave, there were some good plays. This one below is what the Terps should have ran more. Turgeon will expect this type of off-ball movement moving forward from his squad.
This play starts out in an extended horns set and sees Donta Scott pop out to receive the entry at the slot. Eric Ayala, the initiator of the play, then goes and sets a screen for Jairus Hamilton to pop out. Hamilton swings the ball to Ayala, and while that is happening, Aaron Wiggins is setting a back screen on Scott’s man for the sophomore to cut.
Hamilton then goes and sets a down screen for Wiggins to come out for a potential three-ball at the top of the key. That is not open, so Wiggins instead drives to his right and comes to a jump stop. Clemson’s defense converges on Wiggins and he has few options. Ayala sees that and cuts down the middle of the lane, where Wiggins finds him for an easy finish.
Maryland has success when they make defenses work with this type of action, off-ball screening and movement.
The press was ineffective against the Tigers
Maryland had significant success speeding teams up with its press and creating turnovers in its first four games. Against Clemson, the Terps struggled in the first half with their press but had more success in the second half. Let’s see what went right and what went wrong in the press.
Different presses are designed to do different things. But no matter the kind of press, the number one rule of a pressing team is to not let the ball get in the middle. When the offense can find a way to get the ball in the middle, the press is dead.
In both of these clips above, Maryland allows the ball to get in the middle of the floor, resulting in a three-pointer for Clemson and then an and-one. Maryland is in a 2-2-1 press where the second line of the press is responsible for taking away the middle man. They fail to do that, which results in easy buckets for Clemson.
The press in the second half was more effective. The Terps played with more urgency and took advantage of trapping opportunities.
In the first clip above, Reese Mona comes up at the perfect time and forces Clemson’s guard to throw a floating pass. Mona gets his fingers on it and forces the turnover. The second line in the 2-2-1 also does a significantly better job of taking away the middle man for Clemson, limiting the Tigers’ options and forcing them to make a difficult pass.
In the second clip, Eric Ayala recognizes the perfect trapping opportunity. Clemson’s guard dribbles into one of the dead corners on the floor, which is exactly what a pressing team wants. Not only are Ayala and Scott there, but they can use the sideline as a third defender. They make Clemson’s guard pick up his dribble, keep their hands active and force a jump ball. Turgeon can’t ask for better press execution than that.
Donta Scott was a bright spot individually
While the overall shooting performance from the Terps was abysmal, one bright spot was sophomore forward Donta Scott. He was the only Terp to score double-digit points and was 3-of-4 from three point range. Scott is a good rebounder and a physically gifted athlete, but he has also emerged as a legitimate threat from long range.
Below are two clips of him running pick-and-pop action and knocking down the three ball. Turgeon will in all likelihood look to get him more involved in the offense with this type of action as Maryland enters Big Ten play.
Back-breaking plays cost the Terps down the stretch
Late in the game, Maryland started making a bit of a comeback, cutting Clemson’s lead from 25 to 14. Then, miscues by Maryland led to two Clemson triples that extended the deficit to 20. Turgeon called these plays “back-breakers.” Let’s see what went wrong on these two plays for Maryland.
On this play, Clemson’s guard gets a high ball screen at the top of the key. Morsell, the primary defender, goes under the screen, and Galin Smith, the screener’s defender, stays back in drop coverage instead of coming out to contest. Because of this, Clemson gets a wide open pull-up three.
Clemson shot 45% from beyond the arc this game. The Tigers were hitting catch and shoot threes and pull-up threes both in transition and in the half-court. Smith should not have been in drop coverage and allow Clemson’s guard to get that easy of a look, particularly when Maryland is on a run and and a three like that can be a killer.
Smith should have hedged the ball screen, especially because it looks like Jairus Hamilton was moving over to help with the roll man from the weak side.
Maryland is down 17 here and Wiggins misses a transition three-pointer. Hamilton secures the offensive rebound and tries to pass it to a cutting Hart. The ball gets knocked away from Hamilton and Clemson goes down and drills a pull up three-pointer to extend the lead to 20. This was the nail in the coffin on a turnover-riddled performance for the Terps.