Defense has already made strides for Maryland basketball

November 14, 2012

(John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

Coach Mark Turgeon continues to install the schematic pieces into his Maryland basketball team. For instance, the Terrapins practiced breaking a full-court press during their shootaround before Monday’s 67-45 win over Morehead State.

But the defense, a point of emphasis this offseason, has already made strides through two games. Turgeon put his players through two grueling practices on Sunday, two days after Friday’s season-opening loss to Kentucky, and the result was a stifling defensive performance in the home opener against the Eagles.

“We wanted to be better defensively, put together three good halves in a row, and we wanted to share the ball more to shoot at a higher percentage,” Turgeon said. “And we did that.”

Maryland’s defense at times proved porous against the Wildcats, but against Morehead State the Terrapins rotated well on the perimeter, blocked off the paint and limited the Eagles to 31.7 shooting, including 1 of 14 from beyond the three-point arc.

“We’re nowhere near where we need to be defensively, and that’s scary to think about,” Turgeon said. “This team is going to be fun to coach. You can get on them and they don’t hang their heads. They respond. They really responded from halftime the game the other night until now. I don’t like scoring 67 points. I thought we could have got to 80 easily.”

Holding a team to less than 50 points for the first time since Jan. 7, 2011, will have to do. Maryland ranked 265th nationally in scoring defense last season and 156th in opposing field goal percentage.

“We just want to go out there, support each other, make each other better,” sophomore forward Dez Wells said. “Make an extra pass, that’s something we pride ourselves on. We want to see everyone succeed, and winning puts us all in a better situation. We understand that, and that’s one of those things we pride ourselves on. Defense, and finding the open person.

“Coach emphasizes defense a lot. He wants us to be one of the best defenses in the country and we take on that challenge. So I think we’ll be a really good defensive team like I said going on, game by game. With experience we’ll get better.”

The Terps already have. 

Alex Prewitt covers the Washington Capitals. Follow him on Twitter @alex_prewitt or email him at alex.prewitt@washpost.com.
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Alex Prewitt | November 13, 2012