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Maryland basketball has a defensive gameplan in mind as Purdue comes to town

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Saturday's game will be a battle of tall against taller

Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

It's no secret that basketball is a game of height, as the world turns its attention LSU's freakishly tall guard-forward Ben Simmons and Duke's lengthy wing Brandon Ingram, and in the second consecutive top-25 matchup at Xfinity Center there will be no shortage of size.

In terms of Ken Pomeroy's "effective height" metrics, the Boilermakers hold a slight edge over the Terrapins as the fourth tallest against their opponent's No. 6 ranking. Effective height attempts to measure players heights based on time spent on the floor. For example, 5'10 Andrew Terrell would normally do some damage against Maryland's average player height, but because he sees few minutes as a walk-on, his height isn't weighted heavily using this metric.

What the statistic doesn't measure is the build behind the big men, which could be the more serious issue for Maryland.

"We're just as big as them, but they're just a lot wider," said Maryland center Damonte Dodd. "That's always a challenge and we've just got to try to not let them get to their spots on the block, and if we do that, we'll be fine.

"We're big, but these guys are really big," Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon said.

Dodd, the 6'11 junior, intends to take advantage of a new NCAA rule to make up for the strength differential that will place him and slimmer bigs like 7'1 Michal Cekovsky and 6'9 Jake Layman against 7'0, 250-pound A.J. Hammons and 7'2, 282-pound Isaac Haas.

"Last year, you couldn't put a forearm up when they try to catch [the ball] on the block, but this year you can do that," said Dodd, who logged 4 fouls in 2 minutes of game time against Purdue a year ago. "Last year it was hard to guard like that; if you can't use your hands, it's hard to keep your balance."

Dodd thinks he'll be able to put himself in better positioning on the block.

"When they're back-to-back, you can hold your ground and play better defense," he said. "If they catch it on the block we've got to try swarm them, make it feel like all five people are guarding one."

Dodd's been pretty versatile as far as positions go, becoming a power forward – who stands taller than some NBA players at that position – at times in coach Mark Turgeon's big-heavy twin tower type lineup. He's been pretty content as far as showing off what he can do that others his size cannot.

"It's fun," Dodd said. "I get to show off my passing and I get to set a lot of screens for Melo [Trimble] and I can take some jump shots when the opportunity presents itself, so playing at the four is fun."

Dodd didn't mention a particular double-big lineup he felt especially comfortable in, but he seemed confident alongside the Terps' entire platoon of bigs.

"At practice, there's different combinations, so we all get used to each other," he said.

And there will be a lot of rotations between he, Diamond Stone, Robert Carter and Cekovsky as the Terps get to battle-test the height Turgeon's been polishing for the last six months and change.