Some quick observations from the Maryland men’s basketball team’s open scrimmage on Saturday afternoon.
The Terps went 16 minutes with a running clock, Red Team vs. White Team. The White Team built up a 16-5 lead early before Red stormed back, and had a last-possession chance to either tie or win, but Evan Smotrycz clanged a three-pointer off the iron at the buzzer. White came out on top, 31-29.
Here are the rosters. Starters have an asterisk:
White: Pe’Shon Howard*, Nick Faust*, Jake Layman*, Alex Len*, Charles Mitchell*, John Auslander, Jacob Susskind, Conner Lipinski.
Red: Logan Aronhalt*, Seth Allen*, Shaquille Cleare*, James Padgett*, Dez Wells*, Spencer Barks, Evan Smotrycz, Varun Ram.
>> Obviously, this was the first public look at the Terps, albeit with a very small yet energetic sample size. But if Saturday is any indication, having Wells around would be a massive boost for Maryland. Wells was far and away the scrimmage’s best player, finishing with 15 points, including four transition layups and three rebounds. Athletic on the break, Wells drew some ooh’s and ahh’s from the modest crowd with some slicing and dicing in the lane.
“It was kind of his day out there,” Coach Mark Turgeon said. “Dez is a good player, but that was probably his best performance. The lights came on for him.”
As for the Xavier transfer’s eligibility, Turgeon said the Terps are hoping for a decision from the NCAA as soon as next week, but offered little other than that.
>> Len had a strong start with a thunderous transition dunk and two feathery jumpers, when he caught the ball deep in the post, faced up on the baseline and drained it from about 10 feet. The sophomore disappeared somewhat later, finishing with seven points.
“It was pretty good wasn’t it?” Turgeon said. “Then they quit throwing him the ball. They had a pick-and-pop on one side, should have popped for a three. Those are the little things we don’t have in yet. As the year goes on you tweak things. Alex was good. He’s been good, though. Just gets better every day.”
>> Jake Layman scored five early points before leaving with an ankle sprain. He spent the rest of the scrimmage icing it on the bench. Turgeon doubted that Layman would practice Sunday, but hoped to have him back Tuesday after a day off on Monday. “How bad? I don’t know,” Turgeon said. “Hoping it’s not a high-ankle sprain.”
>> As early scrimmages go, this one was fairly competitive with high defensive energy. Cleare and Mitchell had a playful shove with some friendly jawing in the low post, and defensive lapses in the half-court game were sparse. Most of the scoring came either in transition or on the secondary break, save a couple three-pointers.
“We have more depth,” Turgeon said about Maryland’s defense. “We’ll see what kind of depth we’re going to have. I think we should be much better. If we stay healthy, it makes us better defensively. I think it’ll show when we start dialing in on five players rather than 10.”
>> Cleare and Mitchell, according to Turgeon, struggled a bit. Mitchell finished with a game-high six rebounds, while Mitchell was held to one made free throw and zero boards.
“I think where he’ll help us the most early, and don’t take us the wrong way, is rebounding,” Turgeon said about Cleare. “He goes after ever rebound. Once he gets his hand on it’s very hard to take it away. Early, it’ll be more rebounding.”
>> Asked what his rotation would be if the Terps played tomorrow without Wells and Smotrycz, Turgeon said he’d probably rotate nine, with Auslander being the 10th if need be. (Those nine would likely be Padgett, Howard, Faust, Len, Aronhalt, Layman, Cleare, Allen and Mitchell.)
As for starters? “I think Alex Len’s starting,” Turgeon said. “After that I don’t really know.”
>> He might be a freshman, but Allen certainly has no fear about launching three-pointers. He was 1 for 3 from beyond the arc and had three assists against three turnovers. He also was whistled twice for charging, once drawn by Howard on a breakway layup when Wells was open on the weak side.
“Seth did okay,” Turgeon said. “I thought he didn’t run back on defense a couple times. He has a bad habit on stopping the break high, and made a bad decision on the break when he ran over Pe’Shon. For the most part he ran this team pretty good.”
>> Turgeon was encouraged by Howard, who drained a three-pointer from the top of the key, answering an Allen three-pointer, and had two assists. “He looks good for only been going about three weeks,” Turgeon said.
>> Final point totals:
White Team: Howard 3, Layman 5, Faust 10, Mitchell 1, Auslander 5, Len 7.
Red team: Allen 5, Aronhalt 3, Smotrycz 5, Cleare 1, Wells 15.