In his never-ending quest to “figure things out,” a phrase that has become a staple of Maryland basketball news conferences lately, Coach Mark Turgeon fielded his eighth different starting lineup of the season season on Tuesday night against Boston College, and fifth in six ACC games.
This time, the slot machine landed on Nick Faust, Dez Wells, Alex Len, Jake Layman and Charles Mitchell. The first three are no surprise; the three sophomores have started all but four games combined this season. Mitchell received three straight starts before coming off the bench against Miami, North Carolina State and North Carolina earlier this month. And Layman? Well it’s a small sample size, but he’s been vastly superior in a starting role, only reaching double-digit points in his three starts during his freshman season.
The unorthodox lineup, which still started three sophomores and two freshmen for the fourth straight game, matched up better with Boston College’s undersize group while still maintaining Maryland’s size advantage. The Eagles started just one player – Ryan Anderson – taller than 6 feet 5. All five of the Terps’ starters, meanwhile, topped that height. And yet Turgeon still referred to it as “going small,” especially given that Mitchell (14 minutes), James Padgett (nine) and Shaquille Cleare (seven) all saw limited action.
“We went little,” Turgeon said. “Logan [Aronhalt]’s getting so much better defensively and Jake’s getting so much better defensively. We’ve got to get scorers on the floor. So we just did that. I think moving forward we’ll go that way. Dez did a great job guarding the big guy, something we’ll do in the future. Hopefully I’ll add some things to make us more efficient offensively.”
More on Layman’s performance to come in future posts, but both Turgeon and Layman seem comfortable having the golden-haired swingman in the starting lineup. But Turgeon has hinted before about playing matchups, so it’s possible the lineup will continue to fluctuate on a game-by-game basis.
>> Len posted his fifth double-double this season with 16 points and 13 rebounds, shooting 7 of 14 from the field.
“He’s a talented player,” Anderson said. “To have that size, skill and be that athletic is a tough cover. That’s why he’s going to the next level. He was a very physical player. I thought we had success when we got him moving.”
More importantly, Len passed effectively out of double-teams — not getting caught down low as much — took care of business on the boards and controlled the paint defensively.
“Let’s give Alex credit,” Turgeon said. “Alex was tremendous defensively, showing on those ball screens, getting back and palying shots. Alex was pretty special on defense tonight.”
He also displayed a little attitude in the second half, getting into it with Lonnie Jackson after getting whistled for an offensive foul. As Jackson fell backward into the restricted area, Len threw down a two-handed dunk anyway, nearly landing atop the Boston College guard. Jackson took umbrage to nearly getting toppled by a 7-1 tree, and aggressively stood up in Len’s face. Len appeared to reach out for Jackson’s head, then pulled back. Referees separated the two, reviewed the situation on the monitor and life moved on without further discipline.
>> Aronhalt broke out of his mini-slump, hitting two three-pointers including a score-tying shot midway just before the under-12 media timeout. It sparked a solid sequence for Maryland, which got a shot-clock violation at the other end, a wide-open layup from Cleare, a missed three-pointer from Jackson, a Layman three-pointer and a Faust layup in transition that put the Terps up 50-41.
Perhaps most surprisingly, Aronhalt made a layup on a half-court set, just his second two-point field goal this season.
“I actually got to the rim there, which was pretty surprising,” Aronhalt joked. “I don’t know what I was doing in there. Didn’t realize I we were down 3 in the second half when I hit that one. Coach told me that after the game. That was a big win, good confidence boost for me.”
>> Wells’s eight assists were a career high. His previous was five, set while at Xavier against Charlotte last season and tied against while with Maryland against LIU-Brooklyn in November.
>> Len tied a season high with 13 rebounds, and has now scored in double figures over the past five games.
>> Announced attendance was 13,941, including some major Terrapins legends. Buck Williams was named the game’s honorary captain, while Lonnie Baxter and Juan Dixon also received sizable ovations.
MUCH, MUCH MORE:
— VIDEO: Talkin’ Terps with Logan Aronhalt.