Pregame notes: Terps fouling too much, not rebounding enough


Charles Mitchell fights for position against Florida State center Boris Bojanovsky. (Photo by Jonathan Newton / The Washington Post)

Through the years, Mark Turgeon’s teams have historically been solid defensive rebounders and cautious foulers. At Wichita State, the Shockers consistently ranked among the top 10 teams in corralling missed opposing shots, while Texas A&M was particularly adept at keeping foes off the free-throw line.

The 2013-14 Maryland men’s basketball team excels at neither of those things.

“We need to rebound better,” Turgeon said on a teleconference Sunday, and one minute later followed that up with, “We’re fouling too often too early.”

In a way, the latter begets the former. Widespread foul trouble within the Terrapins frontcourt has made keeping a steady rotation difficult, and it seems like every dead ball brings a new substitution. Center Shaq Cleare commits nearly seven fouls per 40 minutes. Forwards Charles Mitchell and Jon Graham commit six apiece. Over the past four games, that trio has fouled more times (36) than scored points (34).

“Obviously, our post guys have been getting in foul trouble a lot,” Turgeon said. “The good thing is I have a number of guys I can put in. I don’t like the fouls because it gets teams to the bonus or the double bonus quicker. Yesterday [against Florida State] it’s at the 11:30 mark [in the second half], 10:43 in the first half … A lot of them are silly fouls.”

The Terps planned to watch film with their posts on the bus drive down to Virginia, but handling the heat of the moment is another matter entirely. Many of Maryland’s fouls are committed beneath the basket, whether spawned by bad defensive position or poor offensive rebounding, though its bigs also have a habit of fouling on ball-screen defense too.

On the defensive boards, Maryland hasn’t been much worse than Turgeon’s former teams, allowing a 29.2 offensive rebounding rate which ranks 76th nationally. Since 2003, six Turgeon-coached teams have ceded higher percentages according to KenPom.com, but in the wake of allowing 20 offensive rebounds – and getting out-rebounded by seven overall – against Florida State, it clearly has Turgeon concerned.

“I think it’s a combination,” he said. “We’re not rebounding as well, and I think we played against some good rebounding teams and we’re playing against another good one tomorrow night. Historically my teams have rebounded well and this team just hasn’t done it. We’re not very big. We’ve got some pretty big guards, but our big guys aren’t overly tall. But that’s no excuse.”

>> Seth Allen’s return was supposed to ease the burden off freshman Roddy Peters, allowing him to contribute off the bench without much pressure that comes with starting. Rather, it appears to have torpedoed Peters’s confidence, rendering him a non-factor over the past seven games and counting.

During that span, Peters has scored in just two games (six total points), averaged 7.71 minutes per game (including a season-low three versus Florida State) and has struggled so mightily during his limited time (six turnovers, five assists) that whenever Allen needs a rest, Turgeon at least considers playing Dez Wells or Nick Faust at point guard, despite how that experiment went during Allen’s injury.

Asked whether that had more to do with matchups or Peters, Turgeon offered little explanation.

“Just has to do with what I think is best for our team at the time,” He said. “It is what it is. Whatever I feel like is going to help us win that game is what I go with. But by no means have we given up on Roddy. We need Roddy to be successful for us moving forward. Hopefully he can get his confidence back.”

>> Evan Smotrycz played arguably his worst game in a Maryland uniform on Saturday. He was in foul trouble, missed all four field-goal attempts, air-balled two of them and tied his season-low with four points, all from the free-throw line.

“Yeah I think he never got in the flow,” Turgeon said. “He got in foul trouble, then we were winning and I never put him back in, then he came in, shot the two air balls so I took him out. Sometimes you have days like that. That stuff happens. You have to move on. Hopefully he’ll play well tomorrow night.”

Smotrycz also got clocked in the nose during a late scrum and emerged with a bloody nose.

“I kept him in, because I knew he was going to make free throws or have a chance to,” Turgoen said. “I trust him. He’s really played well lately. His last four or five games he’s played well. He just wasn’t great yesterday.”

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