Welcome back to the Testudo Times film room. Maryland men’s basketball suffered its worst defeat of the season Tuesday night at the hands of the No. 7 Michigan Wolverines, 87-63. From opening tip until the final buzzer, Michigan was in complete control.
The Wolverines shot 50% from three-point range, while the Terps shot just 21%. Offensively, Maryland could not keep up with Michigan’s high-octane offense. Head Coach Mark Turgeon’s squad saw only four triples hit the back of the net, tied for a season-low for the Terps.
Turgeon came into the matchup with a clear game plan: double Michigan’s star big man Hunter Dickinson and make it difficult for him around the rim. That strategy makes sense given how frequently big men have had success against the Terps and the fact that Dickinson had a field day the last time these two teams met on New Years Eve — he finished that game with 26 points on 10-11 shooting.
While the Terps did a great job against Dickinson on Tuesday, holding him to just three points on three shots, their defensive focus around the rim created a plethora of open shots for Michigan’s guards.
Let's dive into the film to see how that happened.
Maryland opened up opportunities for shooters
In the postgame press conference, Turgeon outlined Michigan’s offense with a simple but accurate description.
“Low post, if you don't double they score on you, and if you do double them, they can shoot threes,” Turgeon said.
He’s certainly right. Maryland opted to double, creating difficult rotations and scramble situations that didn’t go in its favor. The Terps tied the highest three-point percentage they’ve allowed this season.
When a team doubles the post, the double should be effective enough to not allow the big man to score or deliver a crisp pass out of the double. If that is not possible, the defenders not involved in the double have to recognize the double is coming and be prepared to rotate quickly and fly out to shooters.
In the clip above, both Donta Scott and Darryl Morsell are staring at the double and in no mans land instead of locating players to guard on the perimeter. Dickinson took a back dribble to create space for himself and delivered a pass to the top of the key. The Terp defenders are a step slow and move after the pass has already been delivered, which was too late as Michigan knocked down an open three.
Here, Dickinson sets an on-ball screen and runs over Hakim Hart. Galin Smith, Dickinson’s defender, is in drop coverage and is so focused on Dickinson rolling to the basket that he does not even think about Michigan’s guard.
When Hart is taken out of the play, Smith should have gone out to cover the ball handler and let the line of help defense behind him take care of Dickinson. Instead, the Wolverines’ guard steps right into an open three, his second of the game.
This is an example of the type of emphasis Maryland’s defense was putting on eliminating shots at the rim. A Michigan guard drives to the rim on the same side Dickinson is. He takes off at a bad angle, but there are still three Terp defenders surrounding him underneath the basket.
This allows him to make a pass to the wing, where the ball is swung to the top of the key for an open three. Maryland’s defense is all scrambled, which forces Smith to attempt to get out for a long contest, to no avail.
Once again, Dickinson has success passing out of the double. He makes a difficult cross court pass, where the ball is swung for a three. Michigan moved the ball incredibly well and played unselfishly, making it even more difficult for Maryland. When Michigan had the type of success it did shooting the ball, there is no margin of error in rotating and trying to contest these shots.
The Terps were a step slow all nigh, which is illustrated in the film. The Wolverine guard missed this shot, but it is another example of how Maryland doubling Dickinson resulted in open shots for Michigan.
This was the very first play of the second half. After the Wolverines drained three after three in the first frame, the Terps came out continuing to load the paint and give up open threes. Morsell gets blown by and Scott is in a heavy help position with his man in the strong side corner. The Wolverine guard makes the easy read to an open shooter in the corner to start the second half with a bang.
Maryland couldn't keep up with Michigan offensively in the first half
Maryland had to be prolific on offense to keep up with the array of three-pointers Michigan was knocking down in the first half.
However, the Terps were anything but prolific offensively. They showed flashes, as they have throughout the season, but for the most part, it was the same old stale offense against a stifling Wolverine defense.
Michigan defenders were swarming the Terps all night and did an excellent job of staying in front of their man. The Wolverines had multiple possessions where they forced Maryland to throw up a shot late in the shot clock. This is an example of one of them.
Hart gets a screen from Smith that is not effective and has a difficult time breaking shoulders with his man. Eventually he is forced to give it up to Morsell in the corner. The senior drives to the basket with no time on the shot clock and gets stuffed at the rim.
As outlined in a previous breakdown, Maryland struggles against zone defense. Michigan decides to go zone on this possession and the Terps turn it over. The Terps revert to their perimeter passing offense against a zone, which usually is not productive.
Here, Hart tries to find a gap and drives in. He comes to a two-foot jump stop before the defense collapses on him. He then turns it over trying to deliver a pass to Scott on the wing.
Maryland once again finds itself one on one trying to make something happen late in the shot clock. Wiggins catches in the corner and tries to beat his defender. He loses the ball attempting to change directions, resulting in another turnover.
Michigan is one of the top teams in the country and has been dominant to start the season. For any team to have a chance to beat the Wolverines, they need to be sharp on both ends of the floor and limit mistakes. Maryland looked discombobulated on offense, particularly in the first half.
This is a good set Maryland runs to get Wiggins a backdoor layup. Wiggins’ defender is overplaying him, so the junior does a terrific job of setting him up to go backdoor. Smith delivers a good pass to an open Wiggins under the rim, but Wiggins simply can’t handle the pass and it ends up a turnover for the Terps.
In the postgame, Turgeon remarked on how difficult it is to win when you shoot as poorly as Maryland did from the free-throw line. Maryland shot 57% from the charity stripe against Michigan. This is the fifth time this season the Terps have shot under 60% from the free-throw line. The Terps rank 11th in the Big Ten in free-throw percentage.
There are not clips to show why exactly Maryland struggles to knock down free throws, but it is baffling. Against Michigan, the Terps made just 17 of their 30 shots at the stripe. Though no one had a great night at the line, Scott was 4-for-8 and Hart was 1-for-3, 50% and 33%, respectively. Those are two of the best shooters on the roster, so it is hard to explain why they are having difficulties there.
What we do know is that Maryland is going to need turn those percentages around if it wants any chance to make a run in the Big Ten in the latter part of the season.