Who: Maryland (5-1) vs. George Mason (5-2)
When: Sunday, 2:30 p.m.
Where: Verizon Center
DMV radio: 105.7 FM, 1300 AM, 980 AM.
Coaches: Terps — Mark Turgeon (Second season, 22-16). Patriots – Paul Hewitt (Second season, 29-11)
Coming off a 20-point second-half domination of Northwestern on Tuesday, Maryland turns its attention to the 18th installment of the BB&T Classic at Verizon Center against local foe George Mason, with a prime opportunity to strengthen its RPI before conference play rolls around in 2013. The Patriots enter at 5-2 this season and could easily been 6-1 had they not blown a 5-point lead with 13 seconds left against New Mexico. Maryland, meanwhile, is riding a five-game winning streak ever since the season-opener against Kentucky, but as Turgeon told reporters on Saturday afternoon, the Terps might as well be 1-1 at this stage. If nothing else, George Mason is as deep as Maryland, often running 11 deep and boasting four fourth-year juniors. “They’ve got an old team,” Turgeon said. “That scares you a little bit. We’re puppies.”
1. Keep it going? No doubt about it, Maryland is rolling right now. The second half against Northwestern showed how dangerous this group can be at times, achieving its full potential in a 77-57 blowout of the Wildcats during the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Now presents another golden opportunity to help Maryland’s case as a top-25 team, going up against a strong George Mason bunch, but they’ll need to keep the hot streak going, limit turnovers and continue to play solid defense in order to avoid an upset at Verizon Center.
2. Inside-out? The Terps’ “near-perfect second half,” as Turgeon put it, came once they returned to their fundamental, bread-and-butter inside-out game, working through Alex Len and James Padgett on the secondary break, wisely forcing the issue inside and letting the perimeter threats operate in reaction to the post players’ moves, rather than slogging through futile dribble-handoffs around the three-point line. Len and Padgett are good enough passers to find open shooters when opposing defenses double down on them, so the Terps can easily trust the two workhorses to serve as offensive options 1 and 1A.
3. Crash the boards? Like Maryland, George Mason is at its best when it rebounds effectively and dominates on the boards. The Terps’ absurdly high rebounding margin and rebounding percentage certainly won’t last, but they can continue to ride this train as far as it goes. Charles Mitchell ranks first in the ACC in both offensive and total rebounding percentage, while Len was dominant in the second half in Evanston, a virtual vacuum inside once the Terps took him off Northwestern’s center and just let him patrol the paint at will.
1.000: Maryland’s all-time winning percentage against George Mason in seven games.
.833: Logan Aronhalt’s true shooting percentage this season.
22. 3: Charles Mitchell’s total rebound percentage, which ranks first in the ACC and third nationally.
“We’ve won one game. We’re 1-1. We beat some teams that we should beat at home. They know I’m nowhere close to being happy yet. We know George Mason is a huge game for them. I don’t know what I was thinking when I scheduled it, but I’m glad we did. They’re a good basketball team, it’ll help us if we want to get to the NCAA tournament. Our guys are really grounded. We’ve practiced so hard the last two days.” – Turgeon.
“Being a young team we are, I like the schedule. We’re able to work on things. Guys can still have fun. There’s not as much pressure on every game. That Kentucky game, there was a lot of pressure and tension on it. Now guys can be kids, be able to live and have fun in the process. The attention on that game, there was a lot of stress going. I’m sure coach got a few more gray hairs. I’m sure I started sprouting some gray hairs in there. Our schedule will be intense, but being the young team we are, we don’t have to be under that scrutiny every day.” – point guard Pe’Shon Howard.
THE TERPS TUNE OF TODAY
“The Times They Are-a-Changin’” by Bob Dylan