Hours after Maryland flew home from Miami, weary from a 3 a.m. arrival following an even more miserable 54-47 loss to the Hurricanes, Coach Mark Turgeon sat his team down and relived every offensive possession. All the rushed jumpers and missed opportunities played in the Comcast Center film room.
Wincing and furrowed brows ensued as the Terrapins viewed their mistakes, the season-low shooting percentage and the 14 points scored by halftime. It wasn’t a masochistic lesson, but rather a teaching point. They were assigned to grade each possession on a binary system, rating it simply “good” or “bad.”
The result? Around 40 percent of the possessions were deemed “good” by the Terps. Bad screens derailed offensive sets, as did missing open men or launching shots five seconds into the shot clock. Turgeon wants around 85 to 90 percent “good” possessions. Against Miami, they didn’t even muster half of that.
“There’s a lot of aspects,” Turgeon said. “You have the competition. Florida State and Miami are very good defensively. Confidence. We lost our confidence offensively. Started in the second half against Florida State. That had a lot to do with it. Missing some shots, missing some plays we’ve been making. Because it’s not going well, we’re not playing as together as we were. We’re being a little more selfish. That comes into play, guys trying to do it themselves as opposed to doing it as a team.”
Maryland can’t afford to compound its offensive identity crisis. Not now, with 14th-ranked North Carolina State looming Wednesday night. But the shots aren’t falling and the Terps are frustrated. Over the past two games, Maryland has made 34.2 percent of its field goals (40 for 117), 29.7 percent of its three-pointers (11 for 37) and 56.3 percent of its free throws (18 for 32).
“We just can’t make a freakin’ shot,” said Dez Wells, who has really been Maryland’s lone consistent offensive weapon during ACC play. “We cannot make a shot at all. We’re playing really, really good defense. We just suck right now shooting. We just can’t make a shot. There’s no way around it. There’s a lid on the cylinder. We’re getting decent looks. If we pass more and I cut down on our turnovers, I think we can get better shots than we’re getting. That’s on us as players. It’s nothing that Coach Turgeon’s not doing for us. It’s on us and me as a leader.
“And we suck at free throws. 8 for 18? We missed 10 free throws. If we make four or five free throws we win the game, so right now we suck at making shots and shooting free throws. If we get better at that, the whole season’s turned around.”
Obviously, that’s a big “if.” Perhaps moving Nick Faust to point guard could provide offensively flexibility, allowing Turgeon to play a bigger lineup and generate more points in transition. If Shaquille Cleare, who played just four minutes against Miami with back spasms, and Alex Len get going together, then Maryland’s perimeter game opens up even more.
“We have to go into Alex a lot more,” Wells said. “Alex has to be a lot more aggressive. He can’t be shooting six or seven fadeaways each game. We have to play through Alex, hopefully get their bigs in foul trouble and just play inside-out like coach has been telling us.”
Everything has snowballed over the past two games, to detrimental effects. Pe’Shon Howard has gone ice cold from the field, while Logan Aronhalt is 2 for 10 against Miami and Florida State. Faust turned in a solid performance against the Seminoles, but made just 1 of 8 field goals in Coral Gables.
“It’s really frustrating,” Aronhalt said. “It seems like no one could get anything to go down against Miami. The sad thing was we were really defending. You’d take 19 points in the first half against any team. But we only scored 14. That’s pretty ugly. Every team will have games like that during the season. We just have to let it go and shoot better the next game.”
With Faust at point, the Terps might run more, but they’re also more focused on picking their spots in the half-court offense. Plenty of times against Miami, they’d fire quick three-pointers or reckless floaters in the lane instead of working the offense and trusting its motion to create openings.
“We watched film from the Miami game yesterday, shots are going up with 30 seconds left on the shot clock,” Aronhalt said. “Those are just too quick. We can get those types of shots at any time in the shot clock. We need to use more time, try to get the easy layups first.
“We just have to play within ourselves, use our sets, play to our big guys. We talked a lot about using the shot clock, using more time to get better shots. We were coming down, shooting deep threes or driving in, throwing something up within five, six seconds. We can use 20, 25 seconds to get a great shot.”