Who: Maryland (2-2) vs. Northern Iowa (2-2)
When: 7 p.m.
Where: University of the Virgin Islands Sports and Fitness Center, U.S. Virgin Islands
TV: CBS Sports Network.
Online: YouTube Live.
DMV radio: 105.7 FM, 1300 AM, 980 AM.
Coaches: Terps — Mark Turgeon (third season, 44-30). Panthers – Ben Jacobson (eighth season, 152-88)
The Maryland men’s basketball team overcame another bout of early sluggishness – perhaps island-induced, this time – to roll past Marist, 68-43, in the Paradise Jam first round. The Terrapins took Saturday off, going snorkeling at a nearby beach early in the day, and now face Northern Iowa with a championship game bid at stake. The Panthers blitzed past Loyola Marymount, 90-81, behind 20-point games from three starters, and present a challenging matchup for Maryland. The Terps’ defense took a step forward in holding one of the nation’s worst scoring teams below its average and forcing 19 turnovers, but Northern Iowa’s stable of quick penetrating guards, strong shooters and disciplined big men could bring trouble. Against Loyola Marymount, the Panthers struggled to finish at the rim, so expect Coach Mark Turgeon to force Northern Iowa to beat his team with long two-point jumpers and layups in traffic.
1) Contain the kick-out? At halftime against Loyola Marymount, the Panthers had made more than two-thirds of their three-pointers, and finished the game shooting 57.1 percent from outside. Guards Wes Washpun and Deon Mitchell, who Turgeon and his staff recruited some while at Texas A&M, finished with five assists apiece, beating the Lions off the dribble then distributing to shooters like Matt Bohannon (5 for 7, 22 points) and Nate Buss (2 for 2).
“They’re playing differently than they did when I coached [at Wichita State in the Missouri Valley Conference],” Turgeon said. “They have these two little guards, spread it out, a lot of ball-screen action. They ran a lot more sets. tHey didn’t have to show sets. I’m sure they got like 60 sets they run, but we won’t concern ourselves with that. Our principles have to take over.
2) Keep an eye on Tuttle? Maryland center Shaquille Cleare had little trouble posting his best game of the season against Marist, but receives an entirely new task in mobile forward Seth Tuttle, who torched the Lions for 21 points and 11 rebounds, including 13 free-throw attempts. He can beat slower defenders off the dribble from the free-throw line, but got a little too hubristic at times and failed on several posterizing dunks.
“We’ll have to use our length, play a lot smarter,” Turgeon said. “If we play well, it should be a great game. We’re going ot have to make a few jump shots, sag it in. Hopefully the inner size will help us, offensive and defensive rebounding, but it should be a great game.”
3) Ride the hot hand? At the beach, this means creating more opportunities for Jake Layman, easily the team’s leading scorer this season at 15.8 points per game. He’s also shooting over 50 percent on three-pointers, and is capable of changing a game’s course at a moment’s notice. To wit, he engineered five-point swings twice against Marist, hitting a three-pointer than leaking for an alley-oop in transition, then doing the exact same thing in reverse order. But Maryland only uses Layman on less than 20 percent of possessions.
95: Dez Wells’s free-throw percentage this season. He has missed one in 20 attempts.
23.8: Charles Mitchell’s free throw percentage this season. He has made five in 21 attempts.
76.6: Northern Iowa’s free throw percentage, which ranks 36th nationally. Maryland, for comparison, is 274th in the same category.
THE PAINFUL MEMORY
In 2005, Northern Iowa guard Ben Jacobson – coincidentally the same name of the Panthers’ current coach – hit a buzzer-beating three-pointer to give his team a 67-66 win over Turgeon’s Wichita State. The shot arguably kept the Shockers from the NCAA tournament, but the next season they reached the Sweet 16.
“Yeah, we don’t need to talk about that,” Turgeon said Friday after the Marist game. But we sure should watch it.
“I was disappointed in our offense, but we haven’t really worked on our man-to-man offense. Oregon State zoned us for 40 minutes, then we were so bad defensively that we had to work on defense. I had a feeling we were going to struggle offensively tonight, and we did. Second half, we actually executed a little bit better, passed the ball a little bit better. If we continue to guard like that, we can overcome bad offensive nights.” – Turgeon.
“I don’t know. I like warm weather.” – Jake Layman, with a laugh, when asked to connect his 21.3 points per game in the Bahamas with his game-high 16 points against Marist.
THE TERPS TUNE OF TODAY
“Welcome to Paradise” by Green Day