Maryland radio analyst Chris Knoche: Terps have ‘some knuckleheads’

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Dan Steinberg handles the D.C. Sports Radio Interview beat because he’s far better at it, but with the Maryland men’s basketball team struggling and its fans subsequently displeased, here’s a stab at the whole transcription business. Chris Knoche, the current hoops analyst on the Terrapin Sports Radio Network, appeared this week on 105.7 The Fan in Baltimore with Scott Garceau and Jeremy Conn and discussed everything from Coach Mark Turgeon to freshmen Roddy Peters and Damonte Dodd to whether or not this team lacks leadership.

His comments were candid, particularly from someone in Knoche’s position. They were interesting and, I’m sure plenty Maryland fans would agree, spot-on.

On the Terrapins’ second-half performance against North Carolina State on Monday, when an 11-point lead turned into another ugly loss:

Well, it’s kind of cliche to talk about at halftime, when the rest of the TV guys and the play-by-play guys say, ‘What’s the key to the second half?’ and the analyst invariably throws out, ‘Well, the first five minutes mean everything in the second half.’ So what happens is, and sometimes there’s some truth to that. So the Terps go up 11 with a bucket. Then for the next four minutes they go brain-dead. There were some terrible turnovers. One of the reasons why you’ve got such a commanding lead is because N.C. State scored 20 points in the first half. Just 20. You eliminated any easy opportunities, any breakouts, any live-ball turnovers that turned into bad-guy layups. Those things all went right in the first half. Well, in the first five minutes of the second half it went wrong.

I’m telling you, it’s a 9 o’clock game in Raleigh, the team has played miserably over the last couple weeks. That crowd, they want nothing more than to put on their jackets and head off into the night. Then what happens is State goes on that little roll, an now all of a sudden the crowd, quiet as it was in the first half, thinks: ‘Wow this is kind of fun. We may have a shot here.’ It just unraveled from there.

Then, this question about Mark Turgeon: “Has he kind of pulled out all the stops and in your estimation is he at his wits end when it comes to trying to get the players to play?”

I think there’s something to that. He’s in that situation right now where he has to recognize two things. First of all, he’s got some knuckleheads. Secondly, they’re his knuckleheads. One of the things I really liked about what he did against Notre Dame was he was so animated in the second half of that game. Fired up, rooting his team on, jumping up and down. Afterwards he said something about I hate to act like a fool sometimes on the bench. But in the absence of true leadership on the team, somebody has to step in and step up. Occasionally, that’s okay if that’s the coach. Maybe that’s the answer. I don’t know. I’m throwing stuff, I’m as frustrated as most fans are. I think there is a void there. And maybe he’s the guy. Of all the guys in that program who know how to win, and know how to win best, it’s probably him. Maybe that means he really takes the reins.

Here Garceau employed Occam’s razor. “Well we talk about the coach, the leadership, could it be that this collection of players just isn’t good enough?” he asked.

You know, Scott, there’s always that. It’s a collection of I think varied and impressive physical talent, but again there’s a big difference between physical talent and athleticism and knowing how tot play the game and playing it right. You see that a lot in college basketball right now, to be quite honest with you. I never cease to be amazed by the level of athleticism that guys have now and the way they play, just how miraculous some of them are athletically. But the quality of play, and I know I sound like an old guy … but the quality of play, all you have to do is turn on ESPN Classic or watch a game, MASN does such a good job with some of its college replays when it doesn’t have something to air. You see those games, they play completely differently with an IQ that’s just completely lost on what we’re seeing out there by and large. That’s not just exclusive to the Maryland Terrapins.

Then, a brief interlude to discuss freshman center Damonte Dodd, who scored a career-high six points in the first half against the Wolfpack, and point guard Roddy Peters.

On Dodd:

You absolutely want to see some more of him. It’s not like he’s playing behind David Robinson. There should be some opportunity minutes for him. I thought he was great. On the one hand, you don’t want to celebrate too much when the big guy that you’re hyping basically had three stick-backs. But there was a presence there, there was sort of an intangible there with him on the floor and he played with a lot of confidence. We haven’t seen that out of him. To be honest with you, when he’s had the opportunities until this point in time he hasn’t made the most of them. You got to live with some of those right now.

On Peters:

Yeah, up and down. He’s hampered by the fact that he just really doesn’t have a whole lot of confidence in that jump shot of his, and so we haven’t seen it a whole lot. Everything is a runner or everything is trying to take the ball to the rim. I think he’s come around a little bit in terms of his ability to defend, but it’s sort of the catch-22. The only way he’s going to get better is with playing time. The better option right there at that position is Seth Allen and Seth’s got some issues himself. So do you play Roddy at  the expense maybe of a win or two to try and find the chemistry and find minutes for him? I don’t know the answer to that. He can help you, for sure, and I think he’s going to be a really, really good player.

Back to how everyone’s all depressed about how the season’s gone so far:

Here’s the deal. We’ve talked about this before. The beauty of sport is that in January right now, there’s basically a game every three games. They’re sort of at critical mass right now, but a few good weeks makes this completely different. You’ve got a huge opportunity game with a terrific Pittsburgh team, and boy I just talked about the fact that guys don’t know how to play and the IQ is down, Pitt is loaded with upperclassmen for the most part. Watch them play. They put on a clinic last night against Clemson. They’re very, very good. Still, that game’s at Comcast. You have an opportunity game there followed by what I know will be a root canal against Miami on Monday night [Ed. note: actually, it’s Wednesday night], then Virginia Tech. You’ve got some winnable games here and great opportunities ahead. If you rip four off in a row and you’re sitting at 7-3 in the league and 15-8 overall … it’s a hell of a lot better than where you are right now.

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 · January 23, 2014