There for awhile it looked like we might finally get the blow out win we have been waiting for all season. However, this is the “M.O.” of this years team. Maryland simply has trouble in late game situations. Everything from allowing easy layups when trying not to foul to missing free throws. If you can think of a way for one team to let another team back into a game, the Terps are capable of doing it.
By now, I am sure you have read the mainstream media recaps. I wanted to throw out some mental notes I took during the game.
- Ashton Pankey can take advantage of smaller defenders. We saw against Duke he needs to get stronger, but against VT he was able to do as Plumlee did to him. Get in the lane and make some decent post moves. I don’t know that Pankey will ever be an All-ACC level player, but if he continues to improve year in and year out, he could very well sneak onto a second or third team honor by the time he is a senior. You have to remember he hasn’t really played for two straight years. He shows flashes of what he can do, and he could very well be a major contributor by his senior year. I have visions of a Rodney Elliot like career curve. Of course I still have nightmares of nearly running Elliot over in the crosswalk by PG2. So maybe that isn’t a fair comparison, but if that is what we get out of his career, I think we all will be happy with that.
- There is a lot to like about Nick Faust. There is also a lot he needs to work on. He has good court vision. He rebounds well out of the guard spot. He can defend pretty well. He can get into the lane and to the rim to draw fouls. However, his free throw shooting (or lack there off) at crunch time forces Turgeon to get one of his better wing defenders off the court because the free throw misses (especially the front end of 1 and 1′s) are killing the Terps. I expect him to really work hard on his shot this off season and be a different player next year. Even if he isn’t the scorer we all want him to be, he is going to be an important part of this team in the future.
- Terrell Stoglin needs to get out of his free throw shooting funk ASAP. I don’t know if it is a lack of concentration or what. He started the season hitting 23 of 25 shots until a 12 of 21 shooting night against Florida Gulf Coast way back in December. He too has missed the front end of a couple of 1 and 1′s and it is going to cost the Terps a game soon. I think he is doing a better job getting everyone involved. Though he recorded 0 official assists, he had some nice passes that led to players getting to the foul line. He is still out of control at times, but we have to live with it. He is a scorer. At times he is going to drive you mad, but others he is going to put the team on his back. If he ever hits that perfect balance of being a playmaker and a scorer, other teams had better watch out. If you play off him, he can knock down a shot. He just needs to stay in that team offense mode a little more. That being said you can see some progress. As long as the team is in striking distance he does ok. Once they get down by ten points late in a game you might as well forget about it. It is one on one time.
- I am really starting to like Mark Turgeon. Sure sometimes he is blunt about his players, and someday that may bite him. However, anytime he has said something in the media, the next game, you can see an improvement by that player on whatever his issue was. Be it defense with Stoglin, shot selection by Faust, or effort by Pankey. He drops subtle digs in the media, and the players respond. I wasn’t expecting a miracle season this year. I said to myself I would be fine if this young team develops and improves and builds a foundation for next season. To this point I think you can say that is exactly what is happening so far. This team would destroy the early season version. I like the fire Turgeon shows on the sideline. He is not the raving lunatic Gary was, but he has a fire that I like to see.
- We are going to miss Sean Mosley next year. Sure he is starting to score a little more and knock down some three’s, but we are going to miss some of the other things he does. He defends, scraps, and right now is making free throws. He truly is a calming force out there on the court, and right now, I don’t know who fills that void next season. He is one of those players that you really wish you had for just one more year.
Well that pretty much wraps up my thoughts after the Virginia Tech game. Tech was dreadful in the first half, and I think we are lucky they got off to such a slow start. Some of that was the Maryland defense, but I think more of it was Tech just playing so poorly.
Next up is a trip to Miami. Turgeon will try and do something Gary never did, and that is win in Coral Gables. Maryland is 0-2 on the road in the ACC and Miami is one of those toss up games. You would like to think the Terps can pull it out, but far more talented and composed teams have gone down there and come up short. I think you can argue Miami and Virginia Tech have been a thorn in the side of the Terps since they have joined the ACC. They are games you expect Maryland to win, and they have struggled. Miami is young and also playing their first season under new coach Jim Larranaga. The school obviously likes what they have seen in Coach L as they recently gave him a three year extension. Look for more on the Canes as we get closer to game day.