Maryland basketball vs. Miami: Previewing the game

(Associated Press)
(Associated Press)

THE INFO

Who: Maryland (11-9, 3-4 ACC) vs. Miami (10-9, 2-5)
When: 9 p.m.
Where: Comcast Center
TV: WDCA-20 (Tim Brant, play-by-play; Eddie Fogler, analyst)
DMV radio: 105.7 FM, 1300 AM, 980 AM.
Coaches: Terps — Mark Turgeon (third season, 53-37). Hurricanes – Jim Larranaga (third season, 59-29).
KenPom rating: Maryland 71st, Miami 80th.
RPI: Maryland 82nd, Miami 88th.

THE SCRIPT

The frustration and confusion hasn’t quite dissipated from College Park, where the Maryland men’s basketball team still has yet to discover the consistency necessary to make a late-season run. In fact, the Terrapins are trending in the opposite direction, uncovering new ways to struggle during a five-game, four-loss slide. Now their patience and resolve will be tested against Miami, the country’s slowest-paced team, so disciplined in its ways that Maryland radio analyst Chris Knoche likened Wednesday night’s game to “a root canal.” Through 20 games, the Terps are just two games above .500 for the first time since 1992-93 and are in danger of slipping even further below .500 in ACC play with another loss that, with four road games in the next five ahead, wouldn’t exactly bode well for Coach Mark Turgeon and company. A win, however, puts Maryland at least temporarily on the right track with a road date at bottom-feeder Virginia Tech on Saturday.

THE QUESTIONS

1) Play with patience? Tuesday’s practice was brought to you by the letter P for “patience,” and the Terps were content to extract every bit of meaning from the word. Patience on a micro scale meant handling the Hurricanes’ style with maturity by defending late into the shot clock and trusting the offense will create opportunities before it’s too late. Patience on an individual level meant ridding themselves of the selfishness so many players have discussed over the past several weeks, and patience on a macro level meant refusing to look back on the struggles this month.

“No one has their heads down or anything,” forward Evan Smotrycz said. “No one’s pessimistic. Everyone’s excited to play, ready to get better in practice every day. We’ve strung some good days in practice before Pitt. Hopefully we can put together a full 40 minutes tomorrow.”

2) Limit the offensive rebounds? Miami ranks 182nd nationally in offensive rebound percentage, corralling its own misses 31.4 percent of the time. This is a respectable, average rate – Maryland ranks 43rd at 36.4 percent – so why was Turgeon so worried about it?

“If it takes 35 seconds to guard, guard for 35 seconds,” he said. “We’ve practiced that the last couple days. That’s really the biggest challenge. Then ball-screen defense is a challenge for us. We’ve worked really hard on it these last couple of days. They do a lot of roll-and-replace action, so we’ve worked on that. Then rebounding after you guard for 30 seconds, because it’s demoralizing if you don’t. They’re pretty good at second-chance points, getting rebounds, being patient through the shot clock and finishing.”

3) Stop fouling? Miami reaches the free throw line at an extremely low rate (30 percent of its possessions), one of the nation’s lowest and the lowest for a major-conference team, in fact. Maryland, on the other hand, gave away free buckets to Pittsburgh like Halloween candy, committing a Turgeon era-high 29 fouls that the Panthers turned into 32 points. The Hurricanes aren’t prolific free throw shooters – Dez Wells has attempted 43 more than Miami’s leader – but lately teams have figured out easy ways to get the Terps into foul trouble and reach the line, namely with pump-fakes and by attacking the rim.

THE STATS

58.8: Adjusted tempo, per KenPom, for the Hurricanes, which is the lowest in Division I. The Terps, for reference, check in at 70.2.

50: Percent of Miami’s 10 victories that have come in true road games.

33: Total points at halftime of last year’s 54-47 Miami win at BankUnited Center.

THE LINKS

In today’s WaPo: Terps preaching patience ahead of Miami

Jake Layman looking to break out from slump

Film review: Maryland fouled a bunch at Pittsburgh

Terps pleased with offensive improvement vs. Pitt

Different route produces familiar result

THE QUOTES

“I don’t know. I think maybe against teams we think we’re going to beat? Everyone’s saying that we should beat, we lose focus, I guess you could say. That’s just something we’ve got to work on, to keep staying focused.” – Jake Layman, on impatience.

“If you’ve been coaching long, you just get resilient and you move onto the next practice and the next game, you just keep trying to figure it out. I don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow night. I do think we’ve gotten a lot better since North Carolina State. It’s tested all our patience. We don’t like where we are. Tomorrow’s a big game. I’d like to get to .500 in the league. That’d be good for us.” – Turgeon.

THE TERPS TUNE OF TODAY

“Slow Ride” by Foghat.

Alex Prewitt covers the Washington Capitals. Follow him on Twitter @alex_prewitt or email him at alex.prewitt@washpost.com.
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