Maryland basketball: Playing the numbers game


Mark Turgeon’s Maryland team is still something of a mystery 15 games into his first season in College Park. (John McDonnell/THE WASHINGTON POST)

Based purely on wins and losses, it’s hard to tell. The Terrapins are 11-4. According to the numbers crunched by Jerry Palm at CollegeRPI.com, they have no truly good wins and no truly bad losses. Maryland’s best win, RPI-wise, came against Colorado on a neutral floor in mid-November. Its worst loss, RPI-wise, was Sunday’s defeat at North Carolina State (also the Terrapins’ only true road game this season).

Are you a Ken Pomeroy man (or woman)? Pomeroy’s ratings concur with Palm’s: The N.C. State loss was Maryland’s worst. But Pomeroy’s rankings say Notre Dame is the best team that Maryland has defeated, and is one of only two teams in Ken Pomeroy’s top 100 that the Terrapins have beaten (Notre Dame is No. 72 according to Pomeroy; Colorado is No. 100).

So let’s dig a little deeper to see where the Terps are excelling, and where they need some work. All numbers taken from the Maryland statistical profile at StatSheet.com.

Good: Getting to the free throw line

The Terrapins have attempted 417 free throws this season (24th in the country, third in the ACC). Maryland’s free throw rate — a different measure of a team’s ability to get to the free throw line, based on free throws made compared to field goals attempted — of 51.9 ranks second nationally, behind only New Mexico State’s rather gaudy 63.6. Maryland has scored 25.8 percent of its points this season at the line, a number that ranks fifth nationally.

Bad: Making free throws

Maryland is shooting 64.7 percent from the line this season, which ranks 275th nationally (out of 344 Division I teams). In the Terrapins’ three losses they were even worse, shooting 36 of 63 (57.1 percent) from the line.

Good: Offensive rebounding

The Terrapins’ offensive rebound percentage (in other words, the percentage of their own missed shots in which they get the rebound, thus giving themselves another opportunity to score) is 39 percent, or 23rd nationally and No. 2 in the ACC.

Bad: Defensive rebounding

On the other hand, the Terrapins have rebounded only 66.9 percent of their opponents’ missed shots (212th nationally).

Good: Blocks

Maryland has blocked 8.2 percent of its opponents’ shots this season (61st nationally). Maryland has four players with at least 12 blocks (Alex Len in only five games, Sean Mosley, Ashton Pankey and Berend Weijs), and James Padgett has nine.

Bad: Steals

Maryland averages only 3.8 steals per game (tied for 341st nationally and better than only two Division I teams: Utah State and Delaware). Only 5.8 percent of its opponents’ possessions end in steals (also 341st nationally), and only one team — Delaware — has fewer total steals than Maryland’s 57.

So, to summarize: Maryland is good at getting to the foul line but struggles once it gets there; the Terrapins are good on the offensive boards but sometime struggle to pull down their opponents’ missed shots; and Maryland is aggressive when opponents are shooting but not so much when they’re simply moving the ball around the court.

Sounds like an team primarily composed of untested players who are still learning a first-year coach’s ways.

After spending the first 17 years of his Post career writing and editing, Matt and the printed paper had an amicable divorce in 2014. He's now blogging and editing for the Early Lead and the Post's other Web-based products.

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