After the Maryland basketball team’s past two road games, Tobacco Road losses to North Carolina and Duke, the always wise and sage Charles Mitchell offered the same explanation for the Terps’ offensive struggles.
“Trying to run at the tempo of another team,” Mitchell said after Maryland fell to the Tar Heels 62-52. “When you do that and not play Maryland basketball, it’s going to break off. I feel like it was another team. That’s not Maryland basketball, trying to force passes and force shots, force a lot of things that we really don’t force in the past few games. We just have to slow down, think before we make any decisions.”
“It was very frustrating,” Mitchell said following the 84-64 loss to Duke this Saturday. “There were a couple plays where we were told to slow down, still trying to run at their pace. That’s what kills us a lot on the road: trying to play at their pace at their house, when the fans are against you, when pressure’s on. We still need to play Maryland basketball, just slow down, run our offense, pass the ball. We’ll shoot early in the shot clock when we could have slowed down and used 25 seconds on the shot clock.”
Seems like a perfectly reasonable explanation. After Jake Layman chopped the Duke lead to 34-30 with 4:46 left in the first half, Mason Plumlee snatched an offensive rebound and found Seth Curry for a weakside three-pointer. Two possessions later, still down seven points, Nick Faust launched a hasty three-pointer. Amile Jefferson grabbed the rebound and got fouled on the other end, leading to two free throws.
In the second half, when the Terps were consistently fighting a double-digit deficit, quick possessions, especially those that didn’t involve an offensive rebound by Mitchell, typically went the other way.
Coach Mark Turgeon, speaking during the weekly ACC teleconference, didn’t quite see things the way as his freshman forward.
“I disagree with him on that,” Turgeon said. “It was more our defense than anything on Saturday than it was our offense. In that environment, under those conditions, where we are as a team, I thought we handled it pretty well, executed pretty well.”
But as Turgeon went on, it seemed apparent that, at least at the game’s crucial turning points, the Terps were undone by rushed shots and a hastily executed offense.
“Second half, got a little sped up, took a few quick shots,” he said. Duke was “hot, had things going. Can’t do that. It was a little bit of everybody, but mostly Dez and Nick getting a little too sped up.”
>> Alex Len attempted just six shots against the Blue Devils, down from the season-high 14 he earned against Boston College earlier in the week. That downward trend, Turgeon said, was the product of multiple things.
“One, Duke did a nice job on him. Two, we got a little behind and panicked offensively,” Turgeon said. “Then he was just being too finesse. Fadeaway jumpers. Plumlee had two in the first half, shot an airball layup against them. Things like that. A little bit of frustration on my part against him. Should he have touched the ball more? Probably so. Would it have made a difference in the outcome? No, absolutely not. We’ve done a good job of throwing Alex the ball this year. He’s just got to continue to get better and get a little bit tougher.”
>> The Terps also got to the free throw line 16 times, something Turgeon has harped on in the past few weeks, even though they made just nine of those attempts, the fifth straight game in which they have made fewer than 10 free throws.
“I think we tried. I think we tried to drive it more,” Turgeon said. “That’s the nature of their defense. They get out and pressure, make you drive it. We were much more aggressive. Second half we didn’t get there as much as we needed to. It’s something we continue to work on. We continue to work on executing better, our offense wasn’t atrocious against Duke. It really wasn’t. We did some nice things, we scored 64 points on their court. We just didn’t guard them. They made a lot of shots. It was more the nature of our defense on Saturday than it was our offense.”