Welcome back to the Testudo Times film room. Maryland secured a huge 68-59 road victory over Rutgers on Sunday night to move into a firm position for an NCAA Tournament spot with just three regular season games to go. Maryland has now won four consecutive conference games, the longest win streak of the season, and they all came in one week.
The Terps used a suffocating defensive effort to limit Rutgers and force them to turn the ball over 15 times, resulting in transition opportunities. Not only did the defense show up, as it consistently has down the stretch of the season, but the Terps’ offense impressed Sunday night as well. For the first time all season, every single started scored in double-digit points against the Scarlet Knights.
In recent outings, Maryland has put together more complete offensive performances, in large part due to a willingness to share and move without the ball. Wiggins has been the catalyst for this offense all season, and that was no different on Sunday as he finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds.
Let’s take to the film to break down Maryland’s productive defense and efficient offense.
Maryland was able to lock-in on defense and create points off turnovers
Head coach Mark Turgeon’s squad has completely bought in on the defensive end. The defense has been key in all of Maryland’s Big Ten wins this season, and the team has turned it up another level during this win streak.
All five defenders are working together, communicating, in the right help positions and showing effort while moving on the flight of the ball. Even as an undersized group, Maryland has made it difficult for opponents to get easy opportunities.
Here, Rutgers’ big catches the ball in the mid-post and faces the basket. Eric Ayala, a smaller defender, is caught guarding him. Jairus Hamilton makes the right read to go over and double him as he begins to make his move. This forces the Scarlet Knight to pick up his dribble and try to pass out of the double team.
Hamilton gets his hand on the pass and Wiggins then scoops it up and goes the other way for a two-on-one fast break opportunity and bucket. This is one of the many examples of the Terps’ defense leading to offense.
Above is a two-part sequence. The first clip is a display of Darryl Morsell’s tremendous on-ball defense. Morsell is not only the leader of the team, but one of the best defenders in the entire conference this season.
He moves his feet and beats Rutgers’ guard to every spot, forcing Paul Mulcahy to pick up his dribble with nowhere to go. Eventually, he tries to pass it away, but Donta Scott reads him and jumps in the passing lane.
The second clip is of Maryland taking advantage of good defense and pushing the ball up the floor to create an open three. Scott finds Ayala, who is ahead of most of the defense, across the court, and Ayala dribbles into an open three.
This is a clip of the type of textbook defensive performances Maryland has presented in recent games. Ayala moves on the flight of the ball to get out and contest No. 22 for Rutgers. Ayala forces him to the baseline, where Scott slides over to help outside of the paint. Rutgers’ guard makes a cross court pass to a shooter in the opposite corner. Morsell then frantically closes out and gets his hand in the face of the shooter, forcing a difficult shot and miss.
The best defenses are ones where all five defenders are on the same page and move like they are all attached by a string. Maryland’s rotations and recoveries have been great, which is clearly shown in this clip where the Terps force a shot clock violation.
The Terps’ movement and offensive flow helped them get the win
Ayala is a much more effective scorer when he plays off the ball. With Hakim Hart assuming the ball-handling responsibilities at the point, Ayala has been able to play as a two guard in recent weeks. This also means Turgeon can run more sets for him to come off screens for open shots.
Here, Hamilton and Galin Smith are screeners for Morsell and Ayala. Morsell Iverson cuts from the left side of the floor to the right. Hart fakes as if he is passing to Morsell. While that is happening, Ayala is coming off a screen from the right block to the left corner. Smith hunts Ayala’s man to put a body on while the junior guard drifts to the corner. Hart finds him and Ayala knocks down a corner three.
This is a simple weave action where Maryland’s guards do a few dribble handoffs on the perimeter before Smith comes up and sets a screen for Morsell to get downhill. Morsell creates space and knocks down a short jumper.
This is not complicated offensive action, but it shows way more movement than the Terps showed on offense earlier in the year, and the more the defense is forced to move, the harder it is to defend.
This is a good set to free up Wiggins. Morsell passes and screens away on Wiggins’ defender. Wiggins curls and catches the ball on the move, allowing him to go full speed downhill. Maryland’s offense is at its best when Wiggins is the primary option. Plays like these that allow Wiggins to get space and create for himself are a recipe for success for the Terps.
This is just Wiggins operating in the place he calls home: the midrange. Wiggins uses his elite quickness and ball handling ability to stop on a dime to change direction and get to one of his golden mid-range spots, where he rises up and drills the jumper. Wiggins is one of the best mid-range scorers in the entire country. His game would take off even further if he was as comfortable from beyond the arc as he is from inside it.