I had a nice little review in my mind and got about 2 sentences in, when I got a work related call that changed the entire day for me. So instead of finishing that now, I am going to condense that and look ahead to today’s game at Virginia.
First, the Boston College game. That game deserves some mention. It may have been the most complete game the Terps have played all season. Sure Boston College is in the ACC, but to be blunt, they are not good. The best part to me was watching the Maryland defense defend the three pointer. BC makes a living from behind the arc, and Maryland allowed them to make only 4 and only attempt 15. I thought that was a pretty good indication of some pretty good team defense.
The real story of the game was offense. In the first half it was Terrell Stoglin’s personal 14-0 run to really take BC out of their game. That was one of the more impressive stretches I have seen from a Maryland team in a while. Mychal Parker hit a three as well. In fact the Terps started 7-9 from deep. That just deflates an opponent. My one complaint was that Mark Turgeon took Stoglin out while he was “blinking” as I like to call it. If you think back to NBA Live or Coach K College Basketball on a Sega Genesis, when a player made three baskets in a row he got a star and started blinking. I won’t say they wouldn’t miss, but if a player was blinking you got him the ball. Stoglin was blinking and Turgeon pulled him while he had the hot hand. Sure everyone needs a break, but let him ride that hot streak!
The second half story was James Padgett’s 15 points. He got going, scored with his left, made free throws and of course got some offensive rebounds on his own misses that always amuse me. The truth is, Maryland needed to get some scoring inside and Padgett provided. That game could have gotten away from the Terps with out his play in the second half. I also want to mention he finished with 8 boards. I was worried about how he would react to not starting, and after the first half he was non existent, but he bounced back nicely.
The real story of the night was Nick Faust though. He played one of his most complete games of his young career. 14 points (albeit it on 4-12 shooting) 4 boards, 6 assists, 5 steals, and 5 turnovers. If you take away the two ill advised fadeaway three point attempts, and two of the turnovers that came from too much dribbling, you could say he played the best game we have seen from anyone at the point all season. Even with them, it still may have been. I thought he was coming in with the reputation as a shooter. Well, that certainly isn’t the case thus far, but he is a play maker. He can get to the rim, finish with authority, finish with finesse and acrobatics. Sure sometimes he forces the issue, but you can see signs of how special he can become. He has some flash about him, and those no look and behind the back passes are always on the money. I was really impressed with how he ran the offense and dished the ball off. Those passes were right where they needed to be. He is going to take some lumps running the point, but I think it is going to be a valuable experience for him as he develops. Once he really understands what a good shot is, he is going to be really tough to defend.
Overall, the BC game was a great team win. I was really worried when Stoglin threw a pass to Ashton Pankey and he wasn’t even looking for it. I could see Stoglin saying to himself, “why does coach want me to pass again?” To his credit he waited for his spots and was the catalyst for the game. In the end, it might have been the most complete game they have played all year.
Now, today we travel down to Virginia, and a win gets Maryland back to .50o in the conference. Is that enough to put them on the bubble? I doubt it, but it certainly is a win Maryland must have if you want to entertain any thoughts of bubble talk. Maryland has one road win, and no wins against a ranked opponent. UVA is currently ranked #22, but after losing to Clemson, even if they beat Maryland they may drop from the rankings. Still, UVA is ranked, lets just go beat them!
UVA has lost three of four (FSU, UNC, and Clemson) with the win coming against Wake. They are lead by conference player of the year candidate Mike Scott. The fifth year senior forward is having a great season, averaging 16.9 points, and 8.2 rebounds per game. If you spend your efforts trying to double on him inside, you are going to have to make sure you stay with Joe Harris, Sammy Zeglinksy, and Jontel Evans. All three are capable of heating up from outside and as we Maryland fans know, that can kill you. Mike Scott can play inside and outside, so that poses a match up problem. I don’t think James Padgett’s strength is defense outside of the paint, and I don’t think Berend Weis is strong enough to guard him inside. It will be interesting to see if Turgeon tries something different on him. He really is an NBA three that plays the four in college in my mind. With the emergence of Mychal Parker the last few games, maybe he gets a little more time in this game, and has to cover Scott. I don’t know if Turgeon will go that route, but if Scott gets the best of Padgett away from the basket, I think it is worth a shot.
UVA started 14-1, but sits at 6-5 in the conference. You can see the importance of getting this one on the road for Maryland. With a win they will draw even with UVA and will get them again at home on Senior Night. For the Terps to win, you are going to need them to play like a team again. Nick Faust did a good job running the offense, and it helps if Terrell Stoglin can get into the game like he did the other night. The biggest thing though is rebounding and free throws. UVA doesn’t rush into their offense. They aren’t an up and down team, and that could limit possessions, and Maryland will have to make them count. They can’t be turning it over and missing free throws.
I feel cautiously optimistic about this one. Sure BC was only one game, but you can see things coming together. UVA isn’t playing their best basketball of the season. I can’t say it enough. I am so encouraged by the way this team has been in games this year, that I am really looking forward to the future of Maryland Basketball. With a win today though, the immediate future might be a little brighter than any of us expected!