Monday Terps Mailbag: Maryland moves to 1-2 in ACC edition

January 14, 2013

Welcome to the Monday Terps Mailbag, a weekly installment where you ask questions in the wake of Maryland’s 54-47 loss to Miami and I answer them with little sleep and only Vitamin Water in my belly.

(Related note: Submit your questions via email to alex.prewitt@washpost.com or on Twitter. Thanks, friends.)

So how much longer till the mass substitutions end and we stick to a core 5-6 guys who play main parts? Seems this is disrupting the flow and guys are hesitant and over-thinking. Is mt aware of this? Thanks (Praveen K, via email)

It seems like turg is constantly subbing out the only hot player. Do you think he needs to shorten the rotation (@brianisaterp)

Turgeon’s currently caught in a tricky situation. On the one hand, I think he would like a shorter rotation, giving a few select players extended runs on the floor. On the other hand, players’ performances have fluctuated so drastically on a game-by-game basis that it’s proved difficult to solidify that rotation on any given evening. Dez Wells is capable of averaging more than 30 minutes per game during ACC play, and Alex Len is getting there, but the inconsistencies are so widespread that sticking with a core isn’t too realistic at this stage, unless Turgeon wants to grind out the mistakes and toss players into the fire, hoping they’ll figure it out down the road.

I have noticed that, at times, a certain player will break out with a couple of solid sequences only to be subbed out shortly thereafter. It happened to Seth Allen on Sunday, after he stuck two athletic layups, and Jake Layman as well. Not sure why that is, but I agree that rotational consistency would do the Terps wonders. For that to happen, I think Turgeon needs to have trust in five or six players to play extended minutes, which simply doesn’t exist right now.

It’s a vicious cycle, really. Rotational structure is hard to attain without consistent play, but substituting liberally can throw off rhythm, preventing players from actually developing that consistency altogether.

Do you think turgeon is messing with the starting line-up to much? I would like to see a more consistent starting line-up (@pureauthentic23)

Maryland’s starting lineup against Miami was the sixth in 16 games this season, and Seth Allen could see more time as the starting point guard moving forward. James Padgett only started because Charles Mitchell was in trouble and because Shaquille Cleare was limited in practice with lower back spasms.

The buzz word over Turgeon’s past two postgame press conferences has been, “try.” He’s “trying things” with the rotation and the offense to jump start a young team “trying to find itself.” Tossing different players into the starting lineup coincides with this “try everything until something works” approach.

This seems like a good opportunity to open the Mailbag to you folks. What’s your ideal starting lineup for Maryland, and how would you handle the rotation? Drop your thoughts in the comments.

Are the terps and Alex Len both overrated at this point? Neither seem capable of asserting superior talent (@NateWashuta)

I think the team is becoming properly rated, especially once the dust settled surrounding all this potential top 25 business and the Terps dropped two straight ACC games. It’s a team with potential that’s still figuring things out, sometimes at a much slower rate than many would prefer.

As for Len, the NBA draft buzz was never really about his previous performances, although the Kentucky game certainly accelerated matters. Scouts love his athleticism and potential, and that will be there regardless of how his sophomore season with Maryland turns out. He appeared headed for another subpar performance against the Hurricanes, getting benched for Spencer Barks early in the first half after three turnovers, but turned things around, becoming the assertive and aggressive center the Terps need him to be moving forward.

Alex,

I love Coach Turgeon just as much as the next guy. Obviously multiple scoreless stretches of multiple minutes cannot be fully blamed on the coach, no matter the situation. However, at what point does Turge accept some of this blame and how much? It seems like he has not only been out-coached these past two games, but also out-prepared in regards to a game plan. The offense has looked lost. I know we do not have the “ideal” point guard situation, but the offense has had limited flow and even less success. By no stretch of the imagination am I calling for Coach Turgeon’s head, but what do you think needs to change?

-Eli Davis (via email) 

for the bag: what, if anything, can the Terps do to get their offense running before the last 2 minutes of the game? (@JackT144)

Again, another sticky situation. The Terps are best in transition with Pe’Shon Howard or Seth Allen down the middle and Wells/Nick Faust streaking along the sidelines, but turnovers have Turgeon pondering a more slow down, half-court offense approach. Of course, there’s the matter of Maryland’s actual half-court motion offense, which hasn’t exactly been executed with pinpoint precision over the past two games. It relies heavily on high pick-and-rolls or back screens for curl cuts, but if Maryland’s big men don’t get bodies on smaller defenders, then the Terps can’t free themselves into open space.

When asked about Maryland’s offensive struggles, Wells gave this response: 

“It’s not on Coach Turgeon. It’s not on him. He can’t play the game for us. He can’t give us his mind to go out there and play. He can only give us his knowledge of the game and his wisdom with things we need to do. If we don’t go out and execute the plays he’s drawn up for us, and do the things he wants us to do, we don’t have any chance at all. We have to be a lot tougher.”

Wells has become the team’s unquestioned leader, and he’s accepted blame on behalf of Maryland for the past two games. So at least Wells believes the proper system has been installed. According to him, the burden now falls on the players to produce. 

Will P’Shon transfer for his SR season? He has regressed. With Peters & Allen he shouldn’t play. (@maburach)

I happen to think that Howard’s a smart point guard capable of becoming an above-average floor general for Maryland, but he simply has to prove himself capable of handling the load in ACC play. Turgeon has told reporters all season that Howard will make big shots against sizable conference foes, but so far he’s been struggling from the field. An offensive turnaround could boost Howard’s confidence. If not, then Allen might remain in the starting lineup.

Anyway, isn’t it a little early to be pondering future exits?

If Dez Wells was still ineligible would we score more than 40 points a game? (@FWolfTerps)

Interesting question, though for your sanity it’s probably best not to ponder the answer. Wells has been Maryland’s most consistent offensive force through three ACC games, really the only player capable of creating his own shot, and even then it’s dribble-drive or bust. Wells is deadliest in transition, when his speed and finishing ability truly take over, and he’s really tried to carry the Terps through some rough stretches. Wells’ shoulders are only so broad, though.

I miss Terrell Stoglin. Any chance we bring him back?? (@BondJustin2)

Care to field this one from overseas, Terrell?

Well then.

can we get the cupcakes back? (@NateWashuta)

February looks much more promising than January, with Maryland’s three road games at Virginia Tech, Boston College and Georgia Tech. But no. No more Maryland-Eastern Shores for you.

No question, just ugh. (@J_D_P)

You’re not alone, friend.

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 · January 14, 2013