Today’s print preview of the Duke-Maryland game explores the Terps’ point guard situation, which has recently evolved to include sophomore swingman Dez Wells. The consequences of moving Wells to point guard, coinciding with Coach Mark Turgeon’s use of a small lineup, include slotting both Logan Aronhalt and Jake Layman together on the floor.
The pair are nearly opposite in age – Aronhalt is a graduate transfer from Albany, Layman a freshman – but together provide a bona fide outside threat Maryland has missed during its recent offensive woes. Against Boston College, Layman and Aronahlt combined to shoot 8 for 16 from the field and 4 for 9 from beyond the arc, leading the Terps to their highest shooting percentage from three-point range (41.2) since the ACC opener against Virginia Tech on Jan. 5.
They’ve proven themselves to be Maryland’s most consistent shooters, save possibly Seth Allen, so playing them together, coupled with Wells’s drive-and-kick weaponry, gives the Terps additional options.
“When those guys are hitting shots, it’s really hard to play us,” Wells said. “We play so hard on defense, we defend so well, so once we put together our half-court offense and knock down set shots consistently, we’re really, really good. Right now, we’re okay now, just because our inability to do that consistently.”
>> Alex Len has grown accustomed to frequent double-teams down low. Maryland’s 7-foot-1 center gets swarmed on nearly every touch, especially by guards swiping down low for easy steals. Len committed an early turnover against the Eagles but seemed to learn from his mistake, holding the basketball up high and utilizing his passing abilities to hit open targets.
Turgeon said the Terps made a halftime adjustment against Boston College, which helped space the floor and allow Len some room to work, resulting in his fifth double-double this season.
“There were opportunities when Alex had one-on-one and we had the floor spread, when he brought it down and let a little guy get in there instead of catching it and scoring it,” Turgeon said. “We’ve been working a lot on that. I imagine soon Alex will start catching the ball and turning and scoring. It’s a lot being thrown at him. Remember, the game was way too fast for him last year. Now it’s slowed down, especially defensively. Those double teams are coming. It’s moving a little quick for him, but he’s getting better and I imagine soon he’s going to be great. Then we’ll be pretty tough to guard.’
>> When asked about Maryland’s dearth of trips to the free throw line, which have substantially dipped against conference opponents, Turgeon provided the following explanation:
“We were playing pretty well, playing a small lineup and driving the ball more in the second half against Boston College, and they had to foul us twice to get into the bonus,” he said. “So I don’t know what it is. I do think we were much more aggressive in the second half against Boston College, drove the ball more, but we’re just not getting there. Got to keep doing it. Everyone has to get there.
“It’s hard for Alex right now to get there, even though he is, because he’s usually got two guys in his lap, it’s hard to draw fouls this way. But Dez has to shoot more, Nick has to shoot more, guys driving have to shoot more, Jake Layman can get there, all our post guys need to get there more. It’s frustrating, because there’s a reason we’re not scoring as many points. We’re used to getting 16, 18 points in league games probably at the foul line. Right now, probably the last five games, it’s around eight. That’s significant. We were 7 for 12, that’s not enough, and they had to foul us late.”