As a senior and one of Maryland's star players, forward Jake Layman was disappointed in himself after only coming up with 4 points on one field goal against North Carolina.
"After the UNC game, I looked in the mirror and kind of said, 'I need to be better,'" Layman said after Maryland's win over St. Francis Friday night. "I need to play better for this team to win, and I think tonight was the first step in the right direction."
Layman finished Friday's game with 16 points, the most he's had since Maryland's season-opener against Mount St. Mary's. After scoring in double digits in each of Maryland's first four games this season, he hit a bit of a snag offensively coming into Friday night. The forward hadn't scored 10 points in the three games since, and was only averaging three shots per game.
"It wasn't just North Carolina, it was a couple games in a row there," Layman said. "Everyone goes through cycles like that where you don't play well for a couple of games"
He came in only shooting 29 percent from three-point range this season, and had missed his last six attempts from deep, so Mark Turgeon called a play for Layman on Maryland's first possession. The forward took a pass from Rasheed Sulaimon and easily drove past his man for an easy lay-in.
"I love that he took a layup instead of a jump shot," Turgeon said."We talked about getting to the basket and getting fouled early in the game to try to get himself going. I thought our guys are mature enough and understand how important Jake is to us to get him going early."
Layman didn't stop there, netting two three-pointers in the next five minutes and scoring eight of the team's first 16 points. He doubled his season-high in made threes with 4, but brushed off talk that he's been shooting the ball any differently.
"I think I've been shooting the ball the same way," Layman said. "I think everyone goes through cycles of missed shots like that, but as a shooter you just have to keep shooting no matter what."
Now it is important to put this performance in perspective, because Maryland's opponent, St. Francis, simply isn't built to match up with the No. 2 team in the nation. The Red Flash don't have the size to take Layman on offense, and Maryland's ball movement left them out of place all game. That said, 4-for-5 shooting is impressive no matter how you slice it.
While Layman's had a tough time shooting the ball this season, he's been able to contribute on defense. With so many options on offense for the Terps, Layman isn't going to need to be the hot shooter every night.
"I look at myself as an important piece of this team, not just scoring-wise, but defensively too," he said.
Maryland guard Jaylen Brantley played on an AAU team with Layman when they were high-schoolers in Massachusetts. He said the team all texted him after the North Carolina game to keep his confidence up.
"Getting his confidence back is going to be big," Brantley said. "We're going to need him throughout the whole season."