Who: Maryland (6-1) vs. Maryland Eastern Shore (0-7).
When: Wednesday, 7 p.m.
Where: Comcast Center.
DMV radio: 980 AM, 1300 AM, 105.7 FM.
Coaches: Terps — Mark Turgeon (second season, 23-16). Hawks – Frankie Allen (fourth season, 25-74)
After a solid undefeated week against its two toughest nonconference opponents since the season opener, beating Northwestern in Evanston, Ill., and George Mason at Verizon Center, the Maryland men’s basketball returns home to face arguably its weakest opponent of the season in Maryland-Eastern Shore, winless in seven games this season. The Terps, meanwhile, are on a six-game winning streak but have at times struggled to start fast, relying on talent and a 10-deep rotation to keep pesky opponents like Lafayette and Georgia Southern at bay. But it’s going to be awfully hard for any team – at least until ACC play – to keep up with both Alex Len (14.7 points, 9.0 rebounds per game, 18 total blocks) and Dez Wells (13.9 points per game, including 48 in the past two). Assuming the Terps do have their way with the Hawks, Wednesday evening would be a good opportunity to improve on all facets and keep the ball rolling with just six games left until red-hot Virginia Tech comes to town on Jan. 5.
1. Work out the kinks? Maryland has struggled with turnovers recently, mostly the product of poor focus or immaturity on offense, but a flawless performance against Maryland-Eastern Shore could give the Terps confidence moving forward. Turgeon and his staff say there’s still much to work on, so games like these give them opportunities to fine-tune their game both offensively and defensively. This includes hammering down secondary fast-break plays and continuing a strong defensive effort.
2. Blow ‘em out? Coming off a strong showing on the road and at a neutral site, the Terps could probably use a home blowout, putting away the Hawks early and allowing the freshmen and walk-ons to see playing time in the second half. That’s all assuming Maryland-Eastern Shore doesn’t find some way to hang around, like by shooting the lights out or slowing down the pace and limiting Terps possessions.
3. Who will get going? As detailed above, Wells and Len have been the go-to scorers this season, but a weak nonconference opponent could give Maryland its sixth leading scorer in a game this season. Len and Wells have each led two games in scoring, while Nick Faust, Seth Allen and Charles Mitchell have each topped the box score once. With playing time and scoring likely spread around throughout the roster, players like Jake Layman, Shaquille Cleare or even the zone-busting Logan Aronhalt could find themselves in a starring role.
1.000: Maryland’s all-time winning percentage against Maryland-Eastern Shore in 15 games.
Plus-17: Maryland’s rebounding margin, which ranks second nationally.
18: Assists per game for the Terps, tied for ninth nationally.
“The first stat I look at is field goal percentage defense, next would be rebounding, then probably assist/turnovers — which probably hasn’t been fun to look at — then field goal offense.” – Turgeon.
“From what I see, everybody just wants to score. Nobody wants to do the dirty work. That’s something I really admire about LeBron and Kobe, their willingness to do the things that don’t show up on the stat sheet, closing out and contesting the shots so they don’t make it, the little things that don’t’ show up on the stat sheet that can change the game around.” – Wells.
THE TERPS TUNE OF TODAY
“Flavor of the Weak” by American Hi-Fi.