With so many energetic athletes and fresh legs on his deep roster, Coach Mark Turgeon hasn’t quite extracted the full-court pressure defense consistent with his previous teams. Maryland has unveiled its diamond scheme in previous ACC games, often fleeting moments of helter-skelter traps.
Sometimes it forces turnovers. Other teams break it with ease, exploiting the obvious holes at midcourt behind the initial trap but before Maryland’s last line of front-court defense. Boston College, for instance, executed a five-point swing after twice breaking through on Tuesday.
Much like his team’s overall performance this season, Turgeon knows the press defense often brings inconsistent results. But he sticks with it, largely for the opportunities presented against Clemson on Saturday afternoon.
The Terps finished with seven steals and forced 11 turnovers, neither eye-popping statistics. But they pressed far more than they ever have this season, bridging both halves with speedy lineups that wreaked havoc on Clemson’s offensive plans.
“Press worked today,” Turgeon said. “We’re always going to try it. Today, we were flat and the building was flat. It was 9-4, and we had to do something. They were shooting two free throws, made it 10-4. The press worked today. It gave us energy. Not going to work every day, but it worked today.”
Turgeon typically slots his power forward to guard the inbounder, someone like James Padgett or Charles Mitchell. Two wings form the diamond’s side points, trapping the initial inbounds pass with the on-ball defender. The weak-side shuttles over to guard the swing pass, while another guard – usually Seth Allen – stations himself at midcourt to play safety, looking to intercept an over-the-top look. Alex Len serves as the back-line defender in the opposite paint as a last-ditch effort.
“Even if we don’t get a steal off it, it still puts pressure on the other team,” said Jake Layman, who leaked out for a transition dunk after one of Maryland’s steals. “It’s good to give them a little pressure, if only for six seconds out of the shot clock, then get back and defend.”
>> Dez Wells’s scoring again took a dip against the Tigers. The sophomore finished with just four points on 1-of-6 shooting, and had zero points at halftime. But he was phenomenal in the open court, finishing with just one turnover against seven assists. Twice, Wells broke through Clemson’s press and dished to the open man for an easy bucket.
>> Lefty Driesell received a massive standing ovation at halftime, when he was honored for his legendary coaching career at Maryland. He walked to midcourt, sans cane, clutching the arm of his wife, Joyce. Athletics director Kevin Anderson and former player Tom McMillen flanked Driesell.
After the game, per Maryland basketball’s Twitter account, Driesell dropped in to speak with the Terps.
After the win, Lefty came in to talk to the guys. twitter.com/TerrapinHoops/…
— Maryland Basketball (@TerrapinHoops) February 23, 2013
He also visited with the team on Friday.
‘He was just telling us how talented his guys were, how hard they worked in practice and before the games,” Mitchell said. “He was telling us how games are won before you even step on the court, through preparation in practice. I took a lot of it to heart. It was great to see him. He gave us good advice. I really loved it. He seemed like he was a great coach.”
>> Women’s basketball guard Sequoia Austin took her turn on the band’s drum set during the under-16 timeout, banging out a nifty solo. The eighth-ranked Terps will host No. 5 Duke on Sunday at 3 p.m. It’ll be a grudge match, Gene Wang writes.
Maryland’s women’s lacrosse team, the 2012 ACC champion, were also honored at halftime. The Terps are currently ranked second nationally and also face Duke in their home opener at 1 p.m. on Sunday.
>> Derrick Lewis, Maryland’s all-time leading shot blocker and third-leading rebounder, was name the team’s honorary captain. Lewis is currently the boys’ basketball coach at Archbishop Spalding.