There's something to say about the first offensive possession of a basketball game.
In the box score, it's no more important than any other attempt to get points on the board. But it very much doesn't hurt for a team to take its first trip to the defensive end with 2 points of its own.
(Since this is college, you could say it's comparable to the first round of beer pong. There's always a slight fear a team gets "naked lapped" if it fails to hit a single cup before the other team hits all of its cups. And the same goes for basketball. Nobody wants to struggle on the offensive end and get blown out from the get-go.)
Here's sort of an odd stat, though: Maryland is 7-of-20 on scoring in the first possession of the game, and an even worse 1-of 8-since Big Ten play began in late December.
The problems? Shot selection and the team's ability to get clean looks.
The opening offensive possession is commonly run with a play in mind. Typically, coaches use the time before tipoff like they would a timeout, instructing players what play to run if they win the tip, or which defensive set to start out in if they lose it. Maryland just hasn't been able to get many high-percentage shots up.
Here's the first offensive possession of every Terps conference game this season sped up 75 percent for the sake of time. It starts nice, but doesn't stay that way:
Now here's a breakdown:
1. Penn State
Here it is. Here is what puts the "1" in "1 for 8", meaning Maryland has gone a month, or seven games straight, without converting on its first play.
It's pretty easy to see why this was a great first possession. Jake Layman – a 37 percent 3-point shooter – curled off a screen perfectly in rhythm and banged as wide-open a shot as you'll get before a defense is worn out. Great start.
Based off a quote about the Michigan State game and just observation, for Mark Turgeon – an advocate for fewer jump shots – it seems that the first play of the game, he tells his team to run involves a post-up for Robert Carter Jr.
"I thought we shot too many jump shots at Michigan State, especially from the start," Turgeon said this week. "Our first play of the game was a post-up play and we ended up shooting 3 threes to start the game."
These plays for Carter in the paint, as you see here and will continue see, haven't resulted in many great looks around the rim.