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TT Court Vision: Inspecting the top plays from Maryland men’s basketball’s bench

We take to the film room to look at the best plays from the Terp reserves.

Hakim Hart, Joshua Tomiac, 2020 Sarah Sopher / Testudo Times

With our TT Court Vision, we’ve already touched on the Maryland men’s basketball’s main rotation, consisting of Anthony Cowan Jr., Jalen Smith, Aaron Wiggins, Darryl Morsell, Donta Scott and Eric Ayala.

But now it’s time to turn our attention to the bench and members of the South Pole.

Head coach Mark Turgeon didn’t utilize his bench — an area of the Terps that was once considered a strength — very much, but they still made some pretty impressive plays this season.

Let’s take a look at a few of their contributions from the 2019-20 season.

Chol Marial

Marial’s 2019-20 final stat line: 0.8 points, 1.6 rebounds and 0.17 assists per game. He shot 50 percent from the field.

A ton of expectations surrounded the South Sudan freshman at the beginning of the season. But when Marial had surgery in August for stress fractures in both legs, his debut with Maryland was pushed back until Dec. 29 against Bryant.

In that game, the freshman impressed with a career-high six points on 3-of-4 shooting and five rebounds in 14 minutes. It’s certainly not a stat line that is going to turn heads — but after everything Marial has been through, including not playing competitive basketball for two years, it was quite impressive.

On this play against the Bulldogs, Morsell will get the majority of the credit for getting by his defender and drawing the help. But Marial stayed ready through the entire play and had his hands prepared to catch the ball, which is something big men can struggle to do at times.

And because he did so, the freshman had an easy two-handed dunk that the Xfinity Crowd — along with his teammates on the bench — enjoyed.

On this play, the Terps tried to use Marial in a pick-in-roll situation — something that Smith is usually designated for. But Ayala wasn’t able to get the ball to Marial and attempted a floater after the Bulldog defender appeared to make contact with him.

Since nobody boxed out the freshman, Marial went up and just placed the ball in the hoop for the first points of his college career.

And it may look like Marial doesn’t jump very high for the rebound — but if you were 7’2, you wouldn’t have to jump very high for the board either.

Marial was expected to provide a boost to Maryland this season with his size but was unable to do so as he struggled to find his rhythm on the court and recover from general soreness throughout the year. With a year under his belt and not many bodies in the Terps’ frontcourt, Marial may have a larger role in second year in College Park.

Serrel Smith Jr.

Smith Jr.’s 2019-20 final stat line: 1.5 points, 0.8 rebounds, 0.44 assists per game. He shot 25 percent from the field and 23 percent from deep.

After a freshman campaign in which Smith Jr. saw an average of 12 minutes per game, the St. Petersburg, Florida, native was expected to build on that in year two and be another key part off the bench.

But he didn’t do that in his sophomore year. Some nights, Smith Jr. never saw the floor, and other nights he would play as much at 16 minutes — like against Northwestern on Jan. 21.

In this game, Smith Jr. — along with Ricky Lindo Jr., who entered the transfer portal Monday — gave the Terps a huge boost.

The sophomore duo combined for nine points, while Maryland’s starters went 1-for-15 from the field in the first 20 minutes of play.

After going down 10 nearly four minutes into the game, the Terps looked for answers and Smith Jr. delivered. As Wiggins drove to the middle of the lane, three Wildcats surrounded him, leaving somebody open.

The Greensboro, North Carolina, native decided to hit his fellow sophomore, who had flared to the corner in order to create some separation from his defender. Smith Jr. caught the pass in rhythm and gave his team a much-needed bucket on the road.

Nearly three minutes later, Cowan found Smith Jr. on the left side once again. After making his first three pointer, Smith Jr. appeared to have more confidence and didn’t hesitate at all when he caught the ball.

Though he went 7-of-31 from deep this season, Smith Jr. hit his two biggest shots of season against Northwestern here to give the Terps some offensive production.

Hakim Hart

Hart’s 2019-20 final stat line: 1.6 points, 0.6 rebounds, 0.5 assists per game. He shot 22 percent from the field and 15 percent from deep.

At the beginning of the season, Hart appeared to be a player Turgeon would turn to off the bench, adding a 6’6 frame to a lineup that already had a ton of length.

But his playing time over the season began to deplete. And — similar to Smith Jr. — Hart would play some games and wouldn’t come off the bench in others.

On this play, Cowan tried to pass to a cutting Wiggins from the top of the key. But the sophomore couldn’t get firm grip on the pass.

Instead of turning the ball over, Wiggins tipped the pass to Hart, who had done a great job at making himself available for a pass from his teammate. With his defender late on his closeout, the freshman shot and converted the corner three-pointer.

Though this play will look just like an average three-pointer on the stat sheet, it was a very cerebral play from the freshman that turned a possible turnover into three points.

On this play, Hart ran off a down screen from Lindo. With his defender trailing, Hart had a wide open route to the bucket, forcing Lindo’s defender to step up and leaving the sophomore unaccounted for.

After taking one dribble, Hart noticed this and threw a simple but effective bounce pass to his teammate for the layup.

Joshua Tomaic

Tomaic’s 2019-20 final stat line: 1.1 points, 0.5 rebounds per game. He shot 72.7 percent from the field.

With such a loaded front court at the start of the season — oh, how times have changed — it was difficult to say how Tomaic was going to fit in.

But the Spain native didn’t see many minutes this season — typically coming into the game to give Jalen Smith a rest for a few minutes.

But one of Tomaic’s best performance came in the Terps’ 16-point comeback against Minnesota on Feb. 26.

In the first half, Smith racked up three personal fouls, which never allowed him to get any rhythm in Minneapolis.

Tomaic, came off the bench for just six minutes in this contest, played with a lot of effort and gave Maryland good minutes.

Following his sound defense on Minnesota star player Daniel Oturu, Tomaic ran the floor and Morsell pushed the pace. The Terp forward outhustled three Golden Gophers to finish the tip-in.

Once again, this play will just show up as two points, but Tomaic’s hustle shouldn’t go unnoticed.

Reese Mona

Mona’s 2019-20 stat line: 0.9 points, 0.2 rebounds, 0.2 assists per game. He shot 100 percent from the field and from three-point range.

Mona — a fan favorite — had some amazing moments in his junior campaign. Though Turgeon went to him when he needed some sort of spark on the defensive end, the La Plata, Maryland, native was never a solid part of the rotation — nor was he expected to be this season.

But, nevertheless, he surely gave his teammates a few reasons to smile and cheer — so let’s take a look at those plays.

On this play, Hart an the break with a five-on-three advantage in favor of the Terps. To his right was Mona, who had his hands ready for the pass and ran in perfect rhythm to catch and shoot if the opportunity presented itself.

And so it did. After catching the ball and setting his feet against Oakland, Mona let his first and only three-point attempt of the season fly. The shot hit nothing but net, sending his bench into a fury and causing Turgeon to even celebrate a little.

On this play, Mona once again remained ready to catch a pass, which just happened to be near the same spot he made the three-pointer against Oakland.

But this time, the Terp guard didn’t settle and drove hard to the cup. Mona had the option to dump the ball to Scott for an easy layup but decided to take it himself with a smooth up-and-under reverse layup.

Travis Valmon

Valmon’s 2019-20 final stat line: 0.6 points per game. He shot 50 percent from the field and 100 percent from deep.

Valmon — one of two Terp seniors — didn’t see more than three minutes in any of his seven appearances this season, but was another fan favorite.

This play from Valmon was by far the best of his 2019-20 campaign and came against Fairfield on Nov. 19.

Valmon received a ball screen and used it. With the defenders switching, Valmon was left with plenty of space to work with. (The Fairfield defender clearly didn’t read the scouting report or he would have known that Valmon makes 50 percent of his shots (2-for-4 in his career) from deep.)

The senior — confident and in rhythm — took one dribble to gather himself and made the three-point attempt.

Will Clark

Clark’s 2019-20 final stat line: 0.5 points, 0.3 rebounds per game. He shot 100 percent from the field.

The walk-on only appeared in four games this season, but made the most of his three minutes against Oakland on Nov. 16.

As Hart ran the break and brought two defenders to him near the basket, the freshman hit Clark, who noticed an opportunity to run the floor with his teammate, with a perfect pass.

The Baltimore native gathered himself and protected the ball with his body to score the layup for the first points of his college career.