Florida State and Maryland’s Turnover Quandary: Which School Can Fix the Problem?

Posted by Brad Jenkins on October 17th, 2013

If you are looking for the main thing holding back Maryland and Florida State from greater success last season, look no further than sloppy ball-handling. Those two teams finished right in the middle of the ACC standings, but also finished in the bottom two in conference game turnover percentage. The average team in the nation turned the ball over on 20% of its offensive possessions. In conference play, the ACC average was even better at 18.4%. Maryland was dead last in the league at 22.4% with Florida State slightly better at 21.2%. To put that in perspective, in an average game of 66 possessions, Maryland would turn the ball over three more times than an average ACC team. That’s three fewer scoring opportunities for a team that wasn’t all that great at shooting the ball anyway. The same was basically true with Florida State.  So does either squad look primed to reverse their turnover woes this year? The answer is that probably only one of these two squads has the ability and the will power to make it happen.

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Mark Turgeon Points to Better Ballhandling in 2013-14

Maryland looks to be the team with the best chance to break that heavy turnover chain on the offense. For starters, Mark Turgeon clearly is aware of the problem and has a goal of fixing it. In a September ESPN podcast he discussed it with Andy Katz and Seth Greenberg. In part of the interview he talked about trying to get better with ball-handling during the team’s summer trip, when he said, “We’ve worked really hard on a lot of things since the season ended. We weren’t great with the ball in the Bahamas, either. Some games, we were pretty good. One of the games, we were pretty bad, so it looked like last year. So it’s something we haven’t corrected but continue to think about.” Another thing is that Turgeon does not have a bad track record as a coach in this area. In fact from 2006-10 at Wichita State and Texas A&M, his teams finished among the top 90 teams in the country in this metric. Turgeon also knows that junior wing Dez Wells is a key to the team’s overall improvement because Wells’ 108 turnovers in 2012-13 are extremely high for a wing player. Even with two young point guards learning on the fly — freshman Roddy Peters and sophomore Seth Allen — look for Maryland to at least get close to the league average in offensive turnover percentage this season. That should be enough to give the Terps a good enough overall offense to reach their goal of becoming an NCAA Tournament team.

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ACC M5: 10.17.13 Edition

Posted by Matt Patton on October 17th, 2013

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  1. Syracuse Post-Standard: This article isn’t new, but it’s relevant with Midnight Madnesses kicking off the college basketball season in earnest this week. Donna Ditota took the time to compile the start dates, Midnight Madness dates and exhibition games for all 15 ACC schools. This year eight teams will be participating in the late night festivities (including Pittsburgh, which has a “Morning Madness”). Notably, ESPNU will cover Duke and Syracuse specifically (along with seven other schools) this Friday night.
  2. Raleigh News & Observer: Duke dominated the media’s preseason ACC poll, receiving 50 of 54 first place votes. This is a bit surprising, as Duke has a significantly more challenging conference schedule than Syracuse – another top-10 team. Roy Williams reminded everyone of the absurdity of the preseason rankings: “‘I can only guarantee one thing,’ Roy says, holding up [the] preseason media ballot. ‘That crap ain’t happening.'”
  3. Winston-Salem Journal: Dan Collins writes longingly for the days when the best players stayed in school longer. Up until 1990 the only ACC player of the year to depart for the NBA was Michael Jordan (who left as a junior). That’s an unreal statistic in today’s age, where so few elite players even make it to their junior season. But Collins ignores the incentives that players now have to go pro, as NBA salaries boomed in the 1990s. The average player salary was $330,000 in 1984-85, Jordan’s first year in the league. Now it’s $5,200,000. Even after inflation, that’s a huge difference.
  4. Baltimore Sun: Mark Turgeon thinks that his team might be able to use its imminent departure from the ACC as motivation for a great season. I think this sentiment is a little trumped up. Maryland‘s upcoming journey to the Big Ten almost certainly played a role in the Terrapins avoiding Duke or North Carolina at home this season. That said, I’m not sure players will feel the same fire that the fans do. Now does that mean I think Maryland will sit back and take a beating in their last match-up with Duke? Definitely not.
  5. State of the U: Jerry Steinberg is a little generous with his rankings, but does a good job assessing the big men around the ACC. I think the two most interesting teams to watch in the post will be Florida State with its army of seven-footers, and North Carolina. I want to go on record that Boris Bojanovsky will become a very good offensive player by the end of his career. Maybe not this year, but he has a lot of upside for Leonard Hamilton. The Tar Heels have a ton of talent down low, but everyone seemed at least a year away last season. Between James Michael McAdoo, Joel James, Brice Johnson and Kennedy Meeks, Roy Williams has plenty of frontcourt talent at his disposal.
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ACC M5: 10.16.13 Edition

Posted by Matt Patton on October 16th, 2013

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  1. The Mikan Drill: It’s no secret Jeff Bzdelik needs a decent season badly. Last year’s recruiting class brought in much needed depth and talent, but three- and four-star players usually take a year or two before they become effective at the college level. Unfortunately, Bzdelik probably can’t wait two years for Codi Miller-McIntyre to flourish running his offense. Josh Riddell does a good job highlighting Miller-McIntyre’s strengths and weaknesses running the team last year. The bottom line is that he has to make better decisions.
  2. Washington Post: Speaking of point guards who need to make better decisions, Seth Allen was one of the more exciting players to watch last season. He has a gift for quick penetration, but his lightning first step often went faster than his risk assessment, which led to many turnovers and bad shots. This year Mark Turgeon will expect Allen to step into a leadership role in a very different, wing-oriented offense. Going small should open up the lane, but Allen’s decision-making may very well decide Maryland’s efficiency.
  3. ESPN: Jim Boeheim sat down with Seth Greenberg and Andy Katz and talked about everything from media days (which he was salty about) to joining the ACC (which he’s now excited about) to specific player development. Boeheim also briefly hits on the hot-button topic of pay-for-play late in his interview. For those who prefer reading to podcasts, Jeremy Ryan of Nunes Magician transcribed some of Boeheim’s interview.
  4. One Foot Down: Sticking with ACC expansion teams, One Foot Down takes a comprehensive look at Notre Dame’s frontcourt. The Fighting Irish have to replace one of the most productive interior workhorses of last year’s all-Big East workhorse in Jack Cooley. That said, Mike Brey’s team has a good deal of experience inside, which could be something to exploit against perimeter-heavy teams like Duke or Maryland.
  5. The Daily Tar Heel: While the scandal still stays an arm’s length away from the basketball program, indictments continue to trickle out of District Attorney Jim Woodall’s office. Three people have been indicted so far: the agent, a former North Carolina tutor, and now Georgia realtor Patrick Jones is on the hook for paying $725 to someone associated with an athlete. Don’t expect this issue to be resolved quickly, but also don’t expect it to end in the death penalty for North Carolina sports at the end, either.

EXTRA: Time for a shameless plug. Walter Carey talked with Maryland alumnus Len Elmore, Duke alumnus Mike Gminski and Fayetteville Observer columnist Bret Strelow. It’s the first part of Rush the Court‘s preseason interview series, and is full of interesting tidbits previewing conference play with three of the more knowledgeable experts in the business.

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Unfairly Judged, Dez Wells Continues Quest To Reclaim His Good Name

Posted by BHayes on August 21st, 2013

Bennet Hayes is an RTC columnist. He can be reached @HoopsTraveler.

With the Ed O’Bannon lawsuit pending and the “should college athletes be paid?” debate becoming increasingly commonplace at the water cooler, the American public is acutely aware of the supposed slights facing college athletes (particularly those playing football and basketball). The absence of stipend or salary for players, who are obviously the main contributors to this multi-billion dollar industry, will always be seen by most as the least fair element of the whole college athlete gig. Without forgetting all the benefits to being a college athlete – scholarships and exposure prime among them, let’s also make sure we remember how challenging sudden fame would be for any young adult.

Dez Wells Is Happy At Maryland, But His Controversial Expulsion From Xavier A Year Ago Continues To Linger

Dez Wells Is Happy At Maryland, But His Controversial Expulsion From Xavier A Year Ago Continues To Linger

Dez Wells knows better than most. Wells, now a junior at Maryland, was the victim of his own campus celebrity at Xavier a year ago. Even putting aside the fact that it was likely his status as a basketball player that induced an allegation of sexual assault (by all accounts and actions, the claim has been dismissed as a fabrication), Wells’ public figure prompted the Xavier administration to take a hard stance on the issue (for PR reasons), with Wells’ right to a presumption of innocence being thoroughly ignored throughout the process. Tuesday, almost exactly a year to the day he was expelled from XU, Wells filed a lawsuit against his former school, as first reported by Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports. A year ago, it didn’t take long for many to come to the conclusion that Wells got a raw deal, but the escalation of the matter still left his name in national headlines next to the words “sexual assault”.

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NCAA Tournament Tidbits: 04.02.13 Edition

Posted by WCarey on April 2nd, 2013

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The NCAA Tournament is here and there’s more news, commentary and analysis than any of us can possibly keep up with. To make things a little easier, we’ll bring you a list of daily links gathered about teams in each of the four regions all the way through the Final Four.

Louisville

  • Many people around the country are very surprised that Wichita State has advanced to the Final Four, but Louisville coach Rick Pitino is not one of them. “I picked Wichita State to go to the Final Four,” Pitino said Monday during a conference call.
  • Louisville junior guard Russ Smith was named a third team All-America selection by the Associated Press.
  • When Louisville guard Kevin Ware suffered his horrific compound fracture Sunday, one teammate rushed to be by his side as he laid on the court writhing in pain; that teammate was swingman Luke Hancock.
  • With the injury to guard Kevin Ware, Louisville’s backcourt depth took a bit of a hit. Walk-on Tim Henderson will be called upon to play increased minutes in Ware’s absence and Cardinals coach Rick Pitino expects him to step up in his unexpected role.
  • The injury to Ware definitely has caused and will continue to cause some adversity for Louisville, but as Pat Forde of Yahoo! Sports explains, this injury is not the worst adversity head coach Rick Pitino has had to handle.

Wichita State

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Rushed Reactions: North Carolina 79, Maryland 76

Posted by mpatton on March 16th, 2013

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Matt Patton is an ACC microsite writer. He filed this report after the ACC Tournament semifinal between North Carolina and Maryland on Saturday afternoon.

Three Key Takeaways:

Turgeon sounded as positive as ever, despite his team's loss.

Turgeon sounded as positive as ever, despite his team’s loss.

  1. Maryland Looked NCAA Good: This hasn’t been the case most of the year, but Maryland looked like an NCAA tournament team this weekend. The past couple of weeks, the Terrapins have looked much better. They’ve improved as much as any group in this league other than possibly Boston College. After the game, Mark Turgeon heaped the praise on Nick Faust, but credit also goes to the more active Alex Len and Dez Wells. Turgeon’s team — known to be very turnover prone — only finished with 10 turnovers against a very active defensive team (Faust, Pe’Shon Howard and Seth Allen combined for three between them). This team may not make the Big Dance, but there’s a lot to be positive about in College Park going forward.
  2. North Carolina Rebounding Struggles: The biggest concern people should have coming out of the game about the Tar Heels is one that will certainly rear its head against Miami. North Carolina couldn’t keep Maryland off the offensive glass. Despite only a 13-9 advantage on the offensive glass, the Terrapins owned a remarkable 24-4 advantage in second-chance points. Charles Mitchell had three offensive rebounds in 12 minutes. Jake Layman added two in 14 minutes. Len added three more. That could kill North Carolina against a team as big as Miami.
  3. Layman’s Reduced Role: After playing most of the game against Duke and acting as the Ryan Kelly stopper, Jake Layman saw his role dramatically reduced (even after starting) against North Carolina. Mark Turgeon turned to Logan Aronhalt instead, looking for another shooter and not needing Layman’s size. However the shift showcased Maryland’s youthful depth. Not only can the Terrapins execute hockey-style front line changes with Shaquille Cleare and Charles Mitchell, they have the ability to adapt their backcourt as well.

Star of the Game: Reggie Bullock deserves a ton of credit. He shut down Dez Wells for much of the game with terrific defense, and ended up tied as North Carolina’s leading scorer with 15 points on 10 shots, four assists and no turnovers. Bullock is the best player North Carolina has on both ends of the floor. He’s a ballhawk on defense and the most consistent shooter on the roster. The only thing missing from Bullock’s game is the attitude that he needs to shoot more and take over games. 

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Rushed Reactions: Maryland 83, Duke 74

Posted by mpatton on March 15th, 2013

rushedreactions

Matt Patton is an RTC correspondent and an ACC microsite writer. He filed this report after tonight’s Maryland-Duke game from the ACC Tournament in Greensboro.

Three Key Takeaways:

Ryan Kelly didn't magically fix Duke's defense.

Ryan Kelly didn’t magically fix Duke’s defense.

  1. Maryland’s offense is fine*: That disclaimer is provided if the Terrapins hit open shots. Maryland torched Duke most of the night, knocking down shot after shot. Duke deserves much of the blame for faulty rotations and miscommunications, but many of Maryland’s struggles this season have come from its inability to take advantage of the opportunities teams present to them. As a team Maryland went 40% (8-of-20) from three and a crisp 23-of-25 from the free throw line. Also Maryland had fewer turnovers than Duke (something that only happened three times in 18 conference games). That’s how to hold onto a lead — especially late in the game. The game wasn’t without mistakes, but those mistakes were far less prominent than usual.
  2. Ryan Kelly didn’t magically fix Duke’s defense: A popular narrative the past two weeks or so is that Ryan Kelly fixed Duke’s issues on defense, but that’s not true. Dez Wells showed that an athletic player with the ability to knock down shots and penetrate can still wreak havoc on Duke’s defense. It wasn’t just Duke’s inability to stay in front of Maryland that was the problem, though. Duke also rotated poorly and when help defense did come, it was often ineffective. Unfortunately because of the small sample size of Duke’s recent games with Ryan Kelly, it’s hard to tell if this game was an anomaly or a crack in the foundation. Duke’s defense is better than this showing (teams aren’t typically going to shoot 92% from the free throw line), but it’s also a cause of concern looking towards the Big Dance.
  3. Freshman poise: Freshmen for both teams played very well for their first time on the ACC Tournament stage. For Maryland, Mark Turgeon got very valuable minutes from Jake Layman, Charles Mitchell, Shaquille Cleare and Seth Allen. They didn’t score tons of points, but all contributed in other ways. Layman in particular was instrumental in guarding Ryan Kelly (who finished 3-of-11 from the floor) for most of the night. Layman also sneakily led the game in rebounding. On Duke’s side, Rasheed Sulaimon kept the Blue Devils in the gym during the first half. He was the only aggressive Duke player, finishing the half with 12 points in 15 minutes. Surprisingly, Mike Krzyzewski sat Sulaimon for the first five minutes of the second half.

Star of the Game: Dez Wells, hands down. As Dave Telep pointed out late in the game, Wells is from Raleigh and never got much interest from Duke. Whether or not that was the reason, Wells played like a man possessed, going 9-of-13 from the field and 10-of-10 from the free throw line for 30 points to go with six boards and three assists. Duke couldn’t stop him and every time Maryland needed a bucket, he stepped up big. He’s carried Maryland in both of its ACC Tournament games.

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ACC M5: 03.08.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on March 8th, 2013

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  1. USA Today: This is a phenomenal article from Mike Lopresti on the 30-year anniversary of the shocking NC State national championship over Houston (which, in awesome time consuming news, you can watch in its entirety on Youtube). Two of the three most important pieces to that game are dead–Jim Valvano and Lorenzo Charles (the dunker)–but the legacy lives on through countless ESPN replays. There are very few moments in sports where the ecstasy of winning was so raw and powerful as it was watching Valvano run one direction before sprinting towards the mob by the NC State basket. 
  2. Indy Weekly: Jeff Bzdelik press conferences are worth the price of admission. He often comes across as an odd combination of aloof and irascible. After the Demon Deacons took a beating from CJ Leslie and NC State, Bzdelik offered this sage take on Leslie’s game:

    “When he wants to be, if he really wants to be, he can be”

    That’s actually a pretty fair summation of Leslie’s career. Bzdelik should’ve known he was two syllables away from a haiku, but such is life.

  3. The ACC: The conference released its All-ACC Academic teams Thursday. Four of the 14 players call Duke home, and over half of them are freshmen. Mason Plumlee is the fourth Duke player to ever make the team two years in a row; Jarell Eddie also made the team for a second straight year. All in all nine schools made the cut, but Virginia, NC State and Florida State did not. To qualify you had to have a 3.00 GPA both this year and over the course of your entire career (which explains the high number of freshmen on the team).
  4. Washington Post: It’s not a secret that Mark Turgeon and Roy Williams are close. The interesting part of this article is twofold: (1) with Maryland’s coming departure to the Big Ten, Mark Turgeon won’t have to worry about taking advice from a direct competitor, and (2) the author’s language when talking about Turgeon and Maryland’s departure. “Changing conferences wasn’t part of the deal. Turgeon came to Maryland to be a part of the tradition-rich ACC. […] But there’s only one Tobacco Road.” North Carolina bias aside (Maryland’s not on Tobacco Road and if anything, the reverence surrounding Tobacco Road irritated Gary Williams as much as anything), but Turgeon always speaks in favor of the move publicly.
  5. This doesn’t need any analysis. (But really Tony Bennett, you didn’t want to double team the guy with three game winners this year before he got the ball?) Michael Snaer put the shakes on Joe Harris before getting the old-fashioned three point play to beat Virginia.

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Rushed Reactions: #23 North Carolina 79, Maryland 68

Posted by IRenko on March 6th, 2013

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I. Renko is an RTC correspondent based in D.C. and the author of the weekly column, The Other 26. He filed this report after Wednesday night’s game between North Carolina and Maryland. Follow him on Twitter @IRenkoHoops.

Three Key Takeaways:

  • One Team is Dancing, and the Other Is (Probably) Not — This was UNC’s sixth straight win and clinched a share of third place in the ACC. The Tar Heels’ recent run, which includes victories over Virginia and NC State, has solidified their hold on an at-large bid. A win over Duke on Saturday would leave no doubt, but even a loss followed by another in the first round of the ACC Tournament should not jeopardize their at-large hopes. Maryland, on the other hand, is headed in the opposite direction. The Terps badly needed this win after recent losses at Boston College and Georgia Tech. Without it, they’ll probably need to beat Virginia on Saturday and make a deep run in the ACC Tournament to have a shot.
  • McAdoo  vs. Len Disappoints — The marquee match-up coming into the game was the battle between big men James Michael McAdoo and Alex Len, but it proved to be a disappointment. Len excited the crowd with some putbacks, but both players looked tentative and ineffective trying to create offense. McAdoo finished with 10 points and two rebounds. Len added just eight points. To some extent, the letdown was a microcosm for their seasons. Both players entered the year with high expectations — perhaps unfairly high — that they haven’t quite matched. McAdoo was in early National Player of the Year conversations, but has drifted well out of the NPOY race as well as NBA Draft lottery projections. Len remains a projected lottery pick, but he has struggled down the stretch, scoring in single digits in seven of last 11 games (after scoring in double digits in 15 of his first 18 games). I don’t pretend to be a draft expert, but one has to wonder if we may see both of these guys back in college uniforms come November.
P.J. Hairston's Aggressiveness and Physicality Helped he Tarheels to the Win in a Hostile Environment (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images North America)

P.J. Hairston’s Aggressiveness and Physicality Helped he Tarheels to the Win in a Hostile Environment (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images North America)

  • Maryland’s Shooting Woes Continue – UNC offered a great chance for Maryland to break out of its outside shooting slump, as the Tar Heels’ defense is vulnerable to the three-point shot. And, sure enough, the Terps had plenty of good looks, particularly off post kickouts and ball reversals. But they couldn’t capitalize, shooting an ugly 3-of-23 from behind the arc. They are now shooting 17.9 percent from three over their last three games and 27.3 percent over their past six. The Terps tried to compensate for their woeful shooting against UNC by pounding the offensive glass and attacking the paint. They were effective, outscoring the Heels in the paint, 38-16, and on second-chance points, 20-11. But they still lost the game by 11 points, thanks to their disastrous night from outside.

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Night Line: More ACC Road Woes For Maryland: Are the Terps Down and Out?

Posted by BHayes on February 28th, 2013

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Bennet Hayes is a regular contributor for RTC. You can find him @HoopsTraveler on Twitter. Night Line runs on weeknights during the season, highlighting a major storyline development from that day’s games.

The chaotic final weeks before the NCAA Tournament have everyone clamoring for clarity, and as simple and as fun as it would be to announce that yes, you did hear a giant “POP” coming from Atlanta this evening, the reality is that Maryland’s at-large hopes haven’t completely vanished. Yet. With games growing few and their ACC record worsening, a 78-68 loss to Georgia Tech tonight has slid the Terps one step closer to the bubble chopping block. Three regular season games remain for Mark Turgeon’s bunch, with two road dates involved (at Wake Forest and Virginia) and a home finale against North Carolina. If Maryland wants to hear its name called on Selection Sunday, they would be well served to snag all three — no easy feat, but when you consider that accomplishing it would triple Maryland’s ACC road win total, a hard road starts to feel nearly impossible.

Mark Turgeon Was At A Loss For Words After Another Maryland Road Loss

Mark Turgeon Was At A Loss For Words After Another Maryland Road Loss

February 7, Blacksburg, Virginia – Maryland won a game on a basketball court not inside the Comcast Center, an accomplishment that had not occurred since November, and has not happened since. A difficult fact to process considering the Terps were likely on the right side of the bubble after the seismic Duke victory on February 16, but it’s hard to make a case for your NCAA Tournament inclusion when you can’t win more than a single road game.

Give Georgia Tech credit tonight, as the Jackets made a lot of plays they don’t normally make. Brian Gregory said it was the best 40 minutes his team has played all season, and Turgeon was effusive with praise for the home team. “Tech was good tonight, they were really good” he admitted, but he couldn’t quite seem to put his finger on what ailed his team — both tonight and on the road all season. Sure, there were criticisms – poor point guard play, a lack of toughness in the paint, too much 1-on-1 offensively – but you could tell that even Turgeon felt at a loss for answers. “I did think we tried hard,” he concluded, but with a resignation in his voice that suggested a full awareness that effort alone will not get his team to the Dance.

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Rushed Reactions: Maryland 72, Clemson 59

Posted by IRenko on February 23rd, 2013

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I. Renko is an RTC correspondent based in D.C. and the author of the weekly column, The Other 26. He filed this report after Saturday afternoon’s game between Maryland and Clemson. Follow him on Twitter @IRenkoHoops.

Three key takeaways:

  • Maryland’s Tournament Hopes Are Alive — Last weekend’s win over Duke gave the Terps’ Tournament hopes a big boost, but a letdown loss at Boston College on Tuesday left them on the thinnest of ice. A loss to Clemson at home would have been a big blow, and it seemed a real possibility when the Tigers pulled to within a point just after halftime. But a 21-6 run gave the Terps a comfortable 16-point cushion with 11:20 to play, and from there, they eased to a comfortable 13-point win, keeping their Tournament hopes alive. While acknowledging his team’s somewhat slow start, head coach Mark Turgeon was quite happy with the Terps’ second-half performance, crediting their defense even more than their offense for enabling them to take control.
  • Maryland’s Freshman Frontcourt May Be Its Future — Sophomore Alex Len has been the focus of the media’s attention for most of the year, but Maryland’s freshmen frontcourt shows signs of being a real force for years to come. Jake Layman, Charles Mitchell, and Shaquille Cleare were averaging just 5.2, 5.5, and 4.2 points coming into today’s game, but they scored 12, 8, and 10 respectively today. More than that, they showed a certain kind of maturity and poise that belied their status as freshmen. The 6′ 8″ Layman is a swing forward with the athleticism, quickness, and shooting touch to play on the perimeter. He has been a full-time starter since late January, and the confidence and skill he displayed against Clemson show why. Mitchell and Cleare are a pair of big bodies who are still refining their post moves, but are strong finishers and rebounders who use their bulk to great effect. They added 6 and 7 boards apiece today and were a big reason Maryland was able to dominate the paint against a typically stout Clemson defense. Their physicality will suit the Terps well when they make the transition to the Big Ten.
  • Clemson’s Offense Is In A Deep Funk – The Tigers have a strong defense, as they showed in taking Miami the distance last week in a 45-43 loss. But their offense has struggled and especially badly of late. This was the fifth straight game in which they scored less than a point per possession. For a team that is likely looking forward to next season already, the news gets worse — two of their three leading scorers, Devin Booker and Milton Jennings, graduate this year. That leaves a heavy load for K.J. McDaniels, who managed seven points against Maryland, and Jordan Roper, who scored a very inefficient 13 points on 5-of-15 FG shooting.

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ACC M5: 01.31.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on January 31st, 2013

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  1. Yahoo! Sports: Here are some fun facts about Shane Larkin. He stopped playing baseball after his little league manager told him, “Whoever taught you to hit didn’t know what he was talking about” (his dad, Barry Larkin, is a Hall of Fame baseball player). Also, at one point in his high school career Jeff Bzdelik was pursuing Larkin pretty hard and Larkin seemed pretty interested. Bzdelik never offered. Now Larkin is a top-three point guard in the ACC (Erick Green, then he and Quinn Cook seem pretty comparable). But Larkin’s development is one of the better stories in the ACC this season. He was an exciting player last year, but made as many stupid plays as jaw-dropping ones. This year, he’s much more in control and Miami’s a better team for it.
  2. Washington PostBefore Michael Snaer’s game-winning dagger last night (see #5, below), Mark Turgeon said Maryland‘s loss to Florida State earlier in the season “probably was the toughest.” My guess is that buzzer-beater didn’t help. The Florida State loss was when Maryland started to slip (or the competition exposed the Terrapins). Maryland was in control most of that game, leading by eight points twice (the second time coming with less than seven minutes to play in the game). But both times it looked like Maryland might stretch things out before the Seminoles came clawing back.
  3. Charleston Post and Courier: Like most of his career, Milton Jennings has been very inconsistent this season. Some days he’s the star of the show. Others he might as well not exist. Travis Sawchik noticed that one determining factor in Jennings’ performance is whether he’s playing at home or on the road. At Littlejohn Coliseum Jennings is shooting nearly 60% from the floor and is good for over 13 points a game. On the road? He’s shooting an abysmal 23% from the floor and is averaging six points a game. Jennings feeds off positive energy, and the crowd at Clemson gives him energy. The crowds on the road makes him tentative. Brad Brownell’s team would benefit a lot if Jennings could become more consistent. He’s the team’s second best player, and it desperately needs him on the road.
  4. Duke Chronicle: This is the best article I’ve seen on Seth Curry‘s injury this year. It’s old news that Curry misses a significant number of Duke’s practices, but I hadn’t read that he “can’t really jump off [his] right leg” or that Tyler Thornton’s job in practice is to emulate Curry (which might explain some of Thornton’s threes). It’s got to be tough for Duke — not to mention Curry — as the team has changed it’s offense pretty significantly since Ryan Kelly went down with his injury.
  5. Tomahawk Nation (video via NBC Sports): So Michael Snaer hit another buzzer-beater — his second this week, fourth in ACC play. This time Snaer stole a win from Maryland. However the biggest news for Florida State fans is the matter of turnovers. Miscues have killed the Seminoles the past few years, but they only gave the ball up six times (less than 10% of possessions) against Maryland. That’s what kept them close enough so that Snaer’s late-game heroics could do the rest. An injured Ian Miller (who, similar to Seth Curry, isn’t practicing) was very productive, even engineering the final play with his drive and kick to Snaer. The moral of this story: Florida State isn’t dead yet. The Seminoles still need to steal a win or two against Duke, NC State or Miami and have a strong showing in the conference tourney, but there’s hope.

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