Who: Maryland (5-3) vs. George Washington (7-1)
When: Sunday, 3:30 p.m.
Where: Verizon Center
TV: MASN (Jim Hunter, play-by-play; John Feinstein, analyst; Byron Kerr, sideline)
DMV radio: 105.7 FM, 1300 AM, 980 AM.
Coaches: Terps — Mark Turgeon (Third season, 47-31). Colonials – Mike Lonergan (Third season, 30-39)
As the Maryland men’s basketball team reaches a critical juncture in its still-young season, two situations can unfold at the BB&T Classic against upstart George Washington: Either the Terrapins struggle like they did against fifth-ranked Ohio State last Wednesday and miss out on another opportunity for an impressive non-conference victory, or they make good on their promise to “change” things and regroup from the pounding endured at Value City Arena. The Colonials, meanwhile, enter as the likely favorites, looking to add another power-conference victory to a résumé that already includes a victory over Miami and an upset over then-No. 20 Creighton at the Wooden Legacy Tournament in California.
1) Get Layman going? Maryland isn’t going to win many games when Jake Layman scores two points, even though those games will be few and far between this season. Still, Ohio State did a tremendous job trailing Layman on curl cuts and making sure he took off-balance attempts with hands in his face. On Saturday, Turgeon attributed much of that to the Buckeyes’ backcourt defense, which hounded penetrators Dez Wells, Nick Faust and Roddy Peters all night, which in turn allowed Ohio State to stick someone on Layman without leaving him open to help.
“He had good looks,” Turgeon said. “Go back and watch the film, Jake had good looks. Problem is, if nobody else is making shots, it’s going to be hard to get Jake shots. So they don’t help off him, everybody’s aware of him, and he still got about five good looks. If we everybody else continues to shoot poorly, he’s not going to get any looks. All of a sudden, Nick hits a shot, Dez hits a shot, we start to drive the ball, our low-post game gets better, Jake starts to get shots. We counted five and a half, six shots were good shots. He just rushed them.”
2) Play defense? George Washington ranks in the top 100 nationally in offensive efficiency, and Maryland ranks in the top 40 nationally in defensive efficiency, though it certainly didn’t show as much against the Buckeyes last week. That first half was a calamity of defense, filled with slow transition recovery and botched ball screen help. Against a Colonials team that just dropped 93 points on Rutgers, the Terps need to return to their Paradise Jam days of mentally sound defense.
3) Win? Simply put, the Terps need this victory. Long-term NCAA tournament implications aside – by no means would a loss crush their resume and doom them to the National Invitational Tournament – they can’t afford to limp into Thursday’s ACC opener off consecutive losses. Maryland channeled its seven-point loss to Oregon State into four straight victories and a Paradise Jam tournament title. It needs to close December with the same intensity, because once 2014 rolls around and the ACC grind starts, all assumptions get thrown out the window.
43.2: George Washington’s three-point percentage, which ranks 12th nationally.
20.2: Charles Mitchell’s offensive rebounding rate, meaning he gathers about one of every five missed shots when he’s on the floor.
20.2: Maryland’s turnover percentage this season. Yes, those numbers are exactly the same, and both are very high.
“My confidence hasn’t wavered in this group.” – Turgeon.
“He brought everyone together and said we need to change something. Obviously Ohio State’s a good team, but we didn’t play up to our potential. If we continue to do what we did that night then we’re not going to be as good as we should be. He said things need to change, we need to concentrate more on defense, execute in practice, got everyone on the same page.” – Varun Ram on Dez Wells’ players-only meeting.
THE TERPS TUNE OF TODAY
“Snow” by Red Hot Chili Peppers.