A tough game at Villanova ends with Maryland Basketball moving to a 1-3 record with lots of questions for this season.
It was not a pretty night for Maryland Basketball when the dust settled in Finneran Pavilion as they dropped the game with a final score of 57-40 with the Wildcats on top. This was definitely one to look back at once and never think of again. Some of the things that led to tonight’s performance have been ongoing concerns for Maryland such as their scoring woes. That all being said, there’s some positives to look at as well.
1. The offensive struggles
The obvious evident factor in their loss was the lack of offensive production. This was something that has been a concern since the off season and certainly of discussion going into today’s game. In fact the Terrapins are rather lacking coming in at 275th in offensive efficiency. They also come in at 300th in turnover rating offensively which makes it extremely difficult to find rhythm. Just based on the eye test, watching this team play you can see the sloppiness at work. They are not running through sets in a smooth manner which is interesting considering the returners they have. This is what leads them to 22% from three and having to rely so heavily on interior scoring which again was a concern from the preseason. At a certain point, something will need to shift to help them get away more with interior looks.
2. Scrappy defense
As much as you can say about the offensive struggles, you could say positively about their defensive strength. They boast a 44th best defensive efficiency rating of 42.9. Turning teams over and being active in lanes is their bread and butter. In a lot of sense, that’s what kept them alive and in the fight in their first few games. They bring a lot of length and athleticism and this is going to allow them to keep a lot of games close. Against Villanova we even saw that as they pulled the score to within 17 and holding Villanova to only 4 points in the last seven minutes. In fact the Wildcats only had 18 points in the second half and really would’ve kept this game winnable if they could have hit shots throughout the game. Villanova has looked a tad shaky, but a respectable scoring threat so this is a positive sign for the Terrapins.
3. Can there be consistency
Believe it or not the Terrapins have had multiple double digit scorers in every game up until their face off with Nova. Jahmir Young is their leading average scorer at almost 15 points per game. Nonetheless, the rest of their starting rotation has switched night after night with who is on and who is cold. In conference play, they will really need more consistency with go-to guys to find when the inevitable scoring struggles hit. As it stands right now, there are times when no one on the floor seems to be able to find points.
4. Ended strong
As noted earlier, the Terrapins fought and just keep going despite the difficult fact of only having 17 points eight minutes into the second half. To be able to finish with 23 points added on and holding Maryland speaks volumes to a few promising factors. First, the fact that they didn’t show quit in what was likely a frustrating period speaks to what head coach Kevin Willard has instilled with this team. His tenure has shown a positive culture shift that was on display here. Second, it shows where their ceiling can be. In the final 12-minute stretch of the game, they outscored Villanova 23 to 9. If anything close to that sort of production or swing is possible through a game, then this team can find a lot of great wins. That is way easier said than done, but still suggests things to look at in keys to victory.
The Terrapins have a somewhat favorable remaining non-conference schedule for what it’s worth. They see a decent UMBC team next week and hit a few other favorable matchups before Big Ten play begins. UCLA might be their next elite opponent. The big thing would be to answer these questions before that game and conference play.
The program is in a tough spot right now, but we’ve seen Maryland struggle early on before in previous seasons and still finish off in a respectable spot. So, not all is lost on Kevin Willard’s squad.