Welcome back to the Testudo Times film room. It was an ugly showing from the Maryland men’s basketball Thursday night as it was blown out by not just one of the top teams in the Big Ten, but one of the best teams in the country.
Maryland had a difficult time containing reigning Big Ten Player of the Year Luka Garza, who finished with 24 points, seven rebounds and four assists. While he was dominant on the inside, it was also the Hawkeyes sharp shooting that led to a 22-point victory; Iowa shot 53% from the field and 50% from three-point range.
Although the Terps got off to a fast start and even led 19-9 at one point, it was not enough as Iowa used a 37-5 run to take control of the game in the first half.
Let’s take to the film to see what went wrong.
Maryland had a tough time scoring against zone defense
After Maryland jumped out to a 10-point lead early in the first half, Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery switched to a zone defense. The Terps had virtually no success scoring against the 2-3 zone and Iowa finished the half on a 35-7 run spanning over 10 minutes of play.
Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon’s squad failed to move the ball, cut or put any type of pressure on Iowa’s zone defense, making it easy for the Hawkeyes to defend. Instead of attacking the zone, the Terps offense chucked up contested threes after just a few perimeter passes. Maryland’s starters shot just 29% from beyond the arc.
“We have no low-post presence, especially against the zone, so it’s kind of hard to be honest with you,” Turgeon said in the postgame press conference.
He is right in that the team they has no traditional low-post presence, however, that does not mean undersized players are not capable of playing certain positions underneath, or that guards can’t attack the rim instead of being passive on the perimeter.
Here is an example of Maryland’s stagnant, ineffective zone offense. The Terps are in a four out look with little movement coming from their perimeter players. They swing the ball around the arc before Darryl Morsell shoots a contested corner three. The lack of movement and cutting the Terps display bails out the Hawkeyes defense and makes their job easier.
Once again, the Terps fail to establish any type of inside presence against the Hawkeyes zone. This is poor shot selection by Donta Scott, who went an uncharacteristic 1-for-6 from deep against Iowa.
There are still 20 seconds remaining on the shot clock when this shot goes up and no one on Maryland even attempts to penetrate, find gaps or get downhill against Iowa’s zone. This is another perimeter pass into a three ball that clanks off the iron.
This is a better offensive possession because Scott is operating in the high post and Galin Smith is on the low block. However, when Scott catches and turns, instead of attacking the basket, he settles for a long two-point attempt. The Terps’ problem offensively all game was their inability to create better looks, attack the basket and put pressure on the defense.
Smith is working out of the short corner on this possession, which is rare but encouraging. Morsell cuts, but he goes into crowded space in the lane and Smith tries to force a pass to him that does not get through. While that is going on, the other three Terps are standing still on the perimeter with their hands out waiting for the ball to come their way.
Maryland rarely tries to screen the outside of the zone, they don't consistently have a high post presence and almost never have anyone roaming the baseline or standing in the short corner. While the Terps personnel may dictate those decisions, any type of creativity would be more effective than what the team displayed on Thursday night. Future opponents will watch this film and be sure to play the Terps exclusively in a 2-3 zone if they can’t figure it out.
Maryland could not contain Luka Garza in the first half
Seventeen of Garza’s 24 points came in the first half. In the first few minutes of action, Maryland did a good job of containing Garza and successfully doubling him. However, as Iowa went on their run to close the half, the Terps went away from their game plan, losing Garza in the half court and doubling him late.
Iowa’s offense was not all Garza in this one, as other players shot the three ball tremendously as well, but below we will show how Garza was dominant and a problem for the Terps.
After all, Garza is one of the best players in the country and has been an unstoppable force all season. If anyone is going to limit him, it will take a perfectly executed game plan for all 40 minutes, which Maryland certainly did not exhibit.
Jairus Hamilton is in single coverage on Garza and is taking away his high side. With a good pass, this gives Garza the opportunity to put Hamilton on his back for an easy layup around the rim, which is exactly what he does.
When Hamilton is taking away his high side, Morsell, who is in the help position, needs to come over from the baseline side to prevent that pass from getting through. At the very least, Morsell needs to be there on the catch for a strong double team. Morsell is not as close to the middle of the floor as he should be and is then late on the help, which allows the pass to be thrown and Garza to get an easy lay-in.
Here, Morsell is caught behind Garza, who receives a deep post touch. Anytime Garza is in single coverage in the post, it is usually a problem for the defense. Help from both Scott and Ayala comes, but it is too late. Garza uses a pound dribble and excellent footwork to get around Morsell to the right side of the rim for a finish.
This is a transition sequence for Iowa in which Maryland completely loses Garza, who had been dominating up to this point. The white jerseys go to cover the three-point line and forget about Garza who is running to the rim. This forces Reese Mona, one of the smaller players on the floor, to scramble to cover Garza. An Iowa guard delivers a high pass to Garza, who gathers and gets the easy basket.
This is a successful defensive possession guarding Garza that took place earlier in the game, before Iowa went on their big run. Garza tries to attack the basket with Hamilton as the primary defender.
Morsell commits to the double team early and does not let Garza split the two defenders. He gets his hands on the ball, eventually forcing a jump-ball. This is what an effective double on Garza looks like. The problem was there were not too many of these as the game went on.
Garza gives the ball up to the wing and Eric Ayala is switched onto Garza. That is obviously not an ideal matchup for the Terps, but Ayala still needs to stay with him. Instead, he stares at the ball and turns his back to Garza for just a second. Garza simply cuts to the rim, receives a pass, and gets fouled going up.
Defending talented big men has been an issue for Maryland all season. They certainly do not have a viable option to match up with an opposing big for an entire game, like they did last year in Jalen Smith. But Turgeon’s group needs to be better at sticking to a game plan and forcing other players to beat them other than the gifted big man they continuously face in the Big Ten.
Maryland will have another big test in that department on Sunday as they travel to Champaign, Illinois to take on Kofi Cockburn and the Fighting Illini.