Logan Aronhalt still shooting lights-out for Terps

One hundred minutes before the Maryland basketball team dropped 100 points on Maryland-Eastern Shore, Logan Aronhalt shuffled along a Comcast Center three-point line, firing warmup jumpers while seven Hawks took their turn against the opposite goal. Aronhalt was alone on his end, save a team manager feeding him passes which turned into swishes.

Aronhalt’s pregame shooting routine, developed over a lengthy trial-and-error process, progresses from close-range shots from two or three feet back to an around-the-world session reminiscent of NBA three-point shooting contests, except without the money ball and in seven spots instead of five.

In between, Aronhalt moves to five feet, then seven, and finally 10, still grooving that fluid jumper, an amuse-bouche to the upcoming appetizer. Aronhalt then works at 15 feet from seven spots, and does the same around the three-point line, hoisting feathery shots from both corners, two separate wing spots and the top of the key. He tries to make at least five in a row before moving to the next spot. Before the UMES game, Aronhalt stuck 35 of 45 three-pointers. At his final three stations, he made 20 of 23.

“That’s pretty good,” Aronhalt said. “I’ll take that.”

In transferring from Albany for a postgraduate year at Maryland, Aronhalt has given the Terrapins a bona fide zone-buster, capable of launching daggers from across the perimeter. He hung a season-high 17 points on the Hawks, including five three-pointers, and despite averaging just 10 minutes per game this year, he ranks sixth in the ACC with 15 three-pointers.

“I think Logan’s probably the best shooter in the country if you leave him open,” Charles Mitchell said. “When a team plays zone on us, we know he’s going to shoot them out of the zone. We’re always excited to see him shoot the ball.”

It’s hard to tear your eyes away from the 6-foot-3 guard in a catch-and-shoot situation, but glance at the bench whenever Aronhalt receives a pass, and you’ll see them rising as one, locking arms in anticipation. Kind of like this:

And when leather inevitably strikes nylon, Shaquille Cleare makes faces like this:

“Logan can really shoot,” Seth Allen said. “When he gets going, it’s a spark. When he hits a three, it goes to the defensive side and everybody starts locking up. When he get a good look, we know it’s going in.”

Aronhalt hasn’t launched enough attempts to qualify for an ACC ranking in shooting percentage, but he boasts a 87 percent effective field goal percentage, a metric of shooting efficiency that adjusts for the heightened value of a three-pointer.

Keeping up that pace will be nearly impossible, but take out the George Mason game when Aronhalt played just three minutes, and he’s made 12 three-pointers in 16 attempts dating back to the Georgia Southern game, when he broke out with a team-high 12 points.

“He’s been the guy,” Coach Mark Turgeon said. “Logan can shoot it. When he misses, it’s a shock. I think he’s making every one of them. Made a couple really deep ones. Our guys get fired up when he shoots them. It’s nice. It’s hard to determine with tonight’s game. Northwestern zoned us, he hit some big shots. It spaces the defense, which is really more important because it opens things up, you can’t help off him. Opens it up for Dez [Wells] and Nick [Faust] to drive the ball.”

All of Aronhalt’s three-pointers against UMES came from the spaces he worked from during pregame warmups. When the Hawks switched to zone, Aronhalt posted in either corner, left wide open with UMES worrying about Maryland’s playmakers up high. In transition, Aronhalt streaked down the alleys, spotting up along the wing.

Warming up becomes harder away from Comcast Center, when travel limits pregame time and can cramp Aronhalt’s routine. But over-thinking the results can be even more detrimental.

“I never really think about it,” Aronhalt said. “If you over-think it and don’t think you have it, you’re not going to play confident and you definitely won’t have it. I’ve had games where I shot terrible before the game and came out and lit it up in the game. Even if I don’t shoot that well pregame or in the morning, I don’t put much emphasis on it.”

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 · December 6, 2012