Maryland basketball vs. Oregon State: Previewing Obama’s visit

November 17, 2013


THE INFO

Who: Maryland (1-1) vs. Oregon State (1-1)
When: Sunday, 6 p.m.
Where: Comcast Center
TV: ESPNU
DMV radio: 105.7 FM, 1300 AM, 980 AM.
Coaches: Terps — Mark Turgeon (Third season, 43-29). Beavers – Craig Robinson (78-89)

THE SCRIPT

With President Barack Obama and the First Family scheduled to attend, the Maryland men’s basketball team welcomes Oregon State from across the country for a Sunday tipoff before it travels to the U.S. Virgin Islands for the Paradise Jam later this week. The Terps scored their first win of the season in a blowout victory last Wednesday over Abilene Christian, one that actually saw the Wildcats leading by one point at halftime. Coach Mark Turgeon praised his players for a strong practice Friday after another abysmal first half showing, something that the Terps hope to remedy against the Beavers. Watch for plenty of zone defense from Oregon State and perhaps some from Maryland, but given that Coach Craig Robinson’s squad ranks among the nation’s worst in three-point field-goal defense, expect some fireworks in the half-court. Also arrive early, because the presidential motorcade will surely bog down Route 1 in bumper-to-bumper traffic.

THE QUESTIONS

1) Start strong? Losing by one point at halftime against a team transitioning from Division II to Division I is never a good look. With Dez Wells benched due to a “miscommunication” with Turgeon, the Terps labored against a team they barely scouted, stunning the Comcast Center crowd before a second-half barrage gave them a runaway victory. With stronger teams up ahead, in the Paradise Jam and the ACC/Big Ten Challenge against Ohio State in early December, Maryland cannot afford to play things by ear and hope the players eventually get it. On Sunday, look for the Terps to emerge stronger, having learned their lesson versus the Wildcats.

2) Shoot over the zone? With a more assertive Jake Layman and an eligible Evan Smotrycz, the Terps are already a markedly better shooting team than they were last season. Against a long Oregon State team that likes to play zone, Maryland might be able to pull away early with a hot streak from deep. But this also means selecting smart shots, whipping the ball around the perimeter to find the open men. It does not mean hoisting jumpers early in the shot clock, like the Terps did so maddeningly often against Connecticut in the opener.

3) Get Cleare going? Continuing to start struggling sophomore center Shaquille Cleare is a low-risk option for Turgeon. Cleare needs a confidence boost, and keeping him in the lineup will do that. If he continues to get into foul trouble and labor through minutes, Charles Mitchell comes off the bench and does what he’s done through the first two games. Cleare has always played better when matched against bigger, stronger opponents who provide a more obvious challenge, and he may find one in Beavers 6-feet-10 center Angus Brandt.

“Shaq works extremely hard,” forward John Auslander said this week. “His time’s coming. He’s just going to keep plugging, keep trying to do the right things. Stuff that doesn’t come up in the stat sheet, Shaq does. He guards right almost every time, he tries to box out. He’s going to get going offensively. We see it in practice and it’s going to carry over.”

THE STATS

14: Total turnovers through two games from Terps point guards Roddy Peters and Dez Wells, seven apiece.

4: Four-star recruits inked this week by Maryland, according to ESPN.com in Melo Trimble, Dion Wiley, Jared Nickens and Trayvon Reed.

1: United States Presidents scheduled to attend.

THE LINKS

The challenges of hosting Obama and the First Family

Terps preaching accountability in wake of Abilene Christian win

Hoops notes: Point guard problems frustrate Turgeon but he’s optimistic

Obama’s coming too

THE QUOTES

“I don’t know what’s happening. They don’t tell us anything. I think it would be great. I think it would be pretty cool for everybody, for their team and for our team. Hopefully it’ll make the teams play even harder than they were going to play.” – Turgeon on Obama.

“I think we have a couple guys that do that. At the same time, we need to be accountable for ourselves. You don’t want to be the guy calling people out only to miss a box-out yourself. There’s kind of a balance there. We’re learning as the season goes.” Smotrycz, on the need for an in-your-face leader.

THE TERPS TUNE OF TODAY

“Roll With The Change” by REO Speedwagon

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 | November 17, 2013