Rushed Reactions: Michigan State 64, Maryland 61

Posted by Tommy Lemoine on March 12th, 2016

Three Key Takeaways

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 12: Deyonta Davis #23 of the Michigan State Spartans rebounds against Robert Carter #4 of the Maryland Terrapins in the semifinals of the Big Ten Basketball Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on March 12, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Deyonta Davis and the Spartans staved off Maryland in Saturday’s semifinal. (Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

  1. Michigan State’s defense can win games. After scoring 41 points in the opening 20 minutes, Michigan State’s offense struggled mightily in the second half, mustering just 23 total points and failing to rediscover its high-efficiency transition game. And yet, thanks to one of the best defensive halves of basketball they have played all season, the Spartans managed to survive. Tom Izzo’s group held Maryland to just one made field goal in the final 10:27 of play, a stretch of grind-it-out, physical basketball that culminated in two huge defensive stops to seal the win. Senior forward Matt Costello, who helped key the effort, cited his team’s defense as “the only reason we won.” For most of the season, Michigan State’s exceptionally efficient offense has carried it to victory. On Saturday afternoon, the Spartans proved that their defense can also bail them out.
  2. The Spartans’ half-court offense can be worrisome against large opponents. Like Purdue – the last team to knock off Michigan State – Maryland is one of the largest teams in the country, boasting a front line with enough strength and length to frustrate nearly any opponent it faces. In the second half, the Terrapins did just that, limiting the Spartans’ transition game and forcing them to score over its massive bodies in the half-court. Diamond Stone, Robert Carter, Damonte Dodd and company allowed Michigan State very few opportunities in the paint, limiting it to 41.9 percent shooting (13-of-31) from inside the arc and causing visible frustration on the part of Spartans players and coaches. Izzo’s club still won, sure, but perhaps Maryland’s defensive effort gives future Michigan State opponents a possible formula for victory.
  3. Maryland will be fine. Much was made of the Terrapins’ late-season struggles, a stretch from mid-February through the end of the regular season during which they lost four of six games and failed to come up with solutions on the offensive end. Some pundits even suggested that Mark Turgeon’s club is among the most likely potential NCAA Tournament upset victims. And while that could still be the case – this is March Madness we’re talking about – it won’t be because Maryland has completely lost its mojo. Despite only winning a single game in Indianapolis, the Terrapins looked far more confident in both their 11-point win over Nebraska and their narrow loss against the Spartans. After scorching the nets to the tune of 1.37 points per possession on Friday, Maryland flexed its defensive muscle on Saturday, holding the country’s most efficient offense to just 23 second half points. Turgeon seemed genuinely relieved in the postgame press conference, as if his team had turned a corner in spite of the outcome: “Everybody in Maryland basketball feels good – feels better than we did coming into this week.” If those good feelings continue into the NCAA Tournament, the Terrapins may have a very nice March ahead of them.

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Big Ten Weekend Look Ahead: Super Bowl Edition

Posted by Alex Moscoso on February 6th, 2016

It’s Super Bowl weekend and that means college basketball is pushed aside for nonstop professional football talk, party planning, and most importantly, the Puppy Bowl. Given the busy weekend, there’s a dearth of quality matchups around the conference this weekend. However, there are a couple of games worth carving out time for while you’re planning the big party. One is an intrastate rivalry that has grown in relevance now that both teams are consistent contenders for the Big Ten title. The other contest is the only Big Ten game this weekend that pits two ranked teams against each other. Here are your Big Ten games to watch.

The Michigan-Michigan State rivalry has been must watch TV since John Beilein has arrived in Ann Arbor . (AP Photo/Tony Ding)

The Michigan-Michigan State rivalry has been must watch TV since John Beilein arrived in Ann Arbor. (AP Photo/Tony Ding)

  • #10 Michigan State at Michigan (Saturday 2:00 PM ET, CBS). After getting run off the court at home by Indiana on Tuesday, this game is close to a must-win for the Wolverines in terms of Big Ten title contention. Michigan is not the most talented team in the conference – this was evident last Tuesday when the Hoosiers did whatever they wanted against the Wolverines’ defense – but their soft schedule in the final half of the conference play gave them a relatively easy trail to the title. This path is narrowing thanks to the debacle on Tuesday. On the other side of things, Michigan State is on a three-game winning streak that started with a momentum-launching victory over Maryland two weeks ago. Michigan presents the Spartans with their first test against formidable competition since that win over the Terrapins, and will serve as a barometer as to whether Michigan State has returned to its elite non-conference form, or if they are just riding an emotional win to two wins over bottom-tier opponents.

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Levy’s Layup Line: Week 10

Posted by Adam Levy on February 5th, 2016

How times have changed. As recently as 2014, the Big Ten was the best basketball conference in the nation for four years running, and it wasn’t particularly close. This season? It’s hard to rank it any higher than fourth due to too many terrible teams wasting away and not enough really good ones to can hang our hats on. Of the 32 Division I conferences, the Big Ten as a whole ranks 28th or worse in four statistical categories (tempo, turnover percentage, free throw rate and steal percentage) and 21st or worse in two other big ones (three point percentage and offensive rebounding percentage). Fortunately, there are still about six to seven teams that are likely tourney-bound, but the bottom half of the conference is simply unwatchable. I’d rather pick my eye lashes off, one lash at a time, than waste two hours of life watching any of those horror shows. Here’s to hoping the top half of the conference provides as much entertainment down the stretch that the bottom half will not.

A.J. Hammons and Purdue have the toughest matchup this weekend against New Mexico. (Brian Spurlock/USA Today)

A.J. Hammons Had a Very Good Week. (Brian Spurlock/USA Today)

It’s week 10 of the Layup Line.

REPORT CARD

A: A.J. Hammons

Decent week for Purdue’s senior center, who snatched up his fourth career Big Ten Player of the Week honor and third plaudit this season. Hammons had the best game of his career against Nebraska, putting up 32 points on 14-of-17 shooting with 11 rebounds, five assists and four blocks. The inconsistent manchild is in the midst of some of the best basketball of his career right now, evidenced by his per game averages of 15.5 points, 7.6 rebounds and 2.1 blocks on 59.0 percent shooting in conference play. With the Robert Carter/Diamond Stone and Matt Costello/Deyonta Davis frontcourt duos on the docket for Purdue in the next four days, it’ll be interesting to see which version of Hammons shows up to play.

B: O.G. Anunoby

Say “hello” to my lil’ friend – Tom Crean’s next unheralded star-in-the-making – the “Original Gangsta,” O.G. Anunoby. The 6’8” forward from Jefferson City, MO has seen his minutes increase from 7.7 to 15.4 minutes per game since James Blackmon’s injury (also the start of conference play), and he has taken advantage in a huge way. Anunoby is one of, if not the, most skilled defenders on Indiana’s roster, having pickpocketed Big Ten foes multiple times in five of 10 conference games and using his incredible length to slow down star players (see Zak Irvin’s 1-for-8 performance). He is crashing the glass with authority and continuously finds ways to shift the game’s momentum in Indiana’s favor when it needs it most. O.G. has solidified his spot as the fan favorite in Bloomington and for good reason (chill out, Tim Priller fans). Pay attention, Big Ten fans. This kid is for real. Read the rest of this entry »

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A Quick Analysis of Maryland and Purdue’s Frontcourts

Posted by Alex Moscoso on December 11th, 2015

Before the season began, both Maryland and Purdue were named in CBSSports.com’s preseason selection of the top 10 frontcourts in America. The Terrapins added two more bigs — Robert Carter and Diamond Stone — to their already strong trio of Jake Layman, Damonte Dodd and Michal Cekovsky, while the Boilermakers added freshman Caleb Swanigan to their duo of A.J. Hammons and Isaac Haas. As of today, the two teams have combined to go 18-1 with the sole loss by Maryland coming in Chapel Hill against the nation’s preseason #1 team. No matter how you slice it, the Terps and Boilermakers largely owe their excellent starts to their respective frontcourts. So how do their performances compare with the other eight selected by CBS? Let’s take a closer look. [Ed Note: All data was collected before Wednesday and Thursday’s games.]

Caleb Swanigan's addition to Purdue has taken this team to new heights in the early season. (AP Photo/Doug McSchooler)

Caleb Swanigan’s addition to Purdue has taken this team to new heights in the early season. (AP Photo/Doug McSchooler)

The most basic function of any frontcourt is to grab rebounds and protect the rim. The four bar charts below compare these 10 teams’ total rebounding percentages, block percentages, offensive rebounding percentages and defensive rebounding percentages.

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Maryland’s Potential Exhibited in Win Over UConn

Posted by Brendan Brody on December 10th, 2015

The phrase “coming-out party” is one that is overused when referring to a newcomer who finally puts everything together. However, if we are talking about Diamond Stone‘s Jimmy V Classic coming-out party on Tuesday night (in Maryland’s 76-66 win over Connecticut), the description couldn’t be more apt. The freshman had his best game of the season as the Terrapins rode his efforts along with sophomore point guard Melo Trimble to grab their biggest win to date. It was a showing that offered another reminder that Mark Turgeon‘s team has a chance to be special.

Diamond Stone Had His Best Game of the Season at the Jimmy V Classic (USA Today Images)

Diamond Stone Had His Best Game of the Season at the Jimmy V Classic (USA Today Images)

On a night when Rasheed Sulaimon and Jake Layman didn’t really get going, it was Stone and Trimble who took over. Stone matched his season high in points (16) while grabbing a season-best nine rebounds against the Huskies. It didn’t seem to matter that the freshman was engaged in a matchup with experienced UConn big man Amida Brimah, as Stone tallied six offensive boards in attacking the glass all night long. Last season, Trimble, Layman and Dez Wells were relied upon heavily as the only legitimate offensive threats. This year, the team’s inside attack packs significantly more punch, with Stone and fellow newcomer Robert Carter offering a sturdy complement to the outside scoring of Trimble. All in all, the win over the Huskies was yet another piece of evidence that Turgeon may have the best starting five in the Big Ten, and perhaps even nationally.

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Rushed Reactions: #6 Maryland 76, Connecticut 66

Posted by Brian Otskey on December 9th, 2015

rushedreactions

Three Key Takeaways.

  1. Maryland was too strong up front for Connecticut. The combination of Diamond Stone and Robert Carter ended up being too much for the Huskies to handle around the basket. Stone and Carter combined for 24 points and 20 rebounds, an impressive showing against Amida Brimah. The Huskies made a second half push from the three-point line which made the game interesting late, but Maryland’s earlier work in the paint was too much for Connecticut to overcome. The Terrapins absolutely dominated the rebounding battle (45-24) and pulled down 14 offensive rebounds, leading to 15 second chance points.

    Melo Trimble had a lot to smile about Tuesday evening. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

    Melo Trimble had a lot to smile about Tuesday evening. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

  2. Melo Trimble’s ability to get in the lane was the difference. Trimble was aggressive as usual tonight and that is best reflected in his free throw numbers. The sophomore point guard went to the free throw line 15 times, converting 14 of them. Trimble is very strong and uses his body tremendously when driving to the basket. Connecticut couldn’t keep him out of the lane, a place where he is absolutely lethal. Containing him is key to defeating Maryland and the Huskies just did not do that. Trimble makes so much happen whether it’s creating for himself or for his teammates. He has truly become one of college basketball’s best point guards in such a short time with the Maryland program.
  3. Connecticut needs an offensive presence in the paint. Although a highly talented group, Daniel Hamilton, Rodney Purvis and Sterling Gibbs can’t do it all for the Huskies. While Amida Brimah is a tremendous presence defensively, he is not a factor on the other side of the ball. UConn forwards Hamilton and Shonn Miller are not big enough to have success in the paint against teams like Maryland with strong frontcourts. Granted, UConn will not be facing teams the caliber of Maryland throughout the season but this has to be a concern for Kevin Ollie as teams key in defensively on his talented crop of guards.

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Mark Turgeon: RTC Preseason B1G Coach of the Year

Posted by Brendan Brody on November 13th, 2015

It’s amazing how quickly things can flip for a college basketball coach. Depending on the status of the program, restless fans and administrators can make someone who’s experienced some degree of success (see: Crean, Tom) feel like his job might be in jeopardy. Other times things can flip in a positive way. Maryland’s Mark Turgeon took a team that had lost four transfers and had little to no expectations coming into the 2014-15 campaign to a second place finish in the Big Ten and Round of 32 appearance in the NCAA Tournament. We here at the Big Ten microsite are banking on Maryland being even better this season; and because of this, the Terps’ head coach is our preseason Big Ten Coach of the Year.

Mark Turgeon is our preseason Coach of the Year in the Big Ten. (USA TODAY Sports)

Mark Turgeon is our preseason Coach of the Year in the Big Ten. (USA TODAY Sports)

Turgeon did a masterful job meshing his freshmen with his returnees last year. Dez Wells, Jake Layman and Melo Trimble had such great chemistry that it looked as if they had been playing together for years. Team chemistry and leadership were obviously a problem the year prior, so Turgeon deserves a lot of credit for putting things together on the team’s way to a 28-7 record. The one thing that might prevent him from becoming this season’s Big Ten Coach of the Year would be experiencing trouble getting his talented newcomers on the same page this season. Based on talent alone, Maryland has the best and most balanced starting five in the Big Ten. Robert Carter was able to practice with the team last season, so his adjustment shouldn’t be very difficult. But can freshman Diamond Stone and Duke transfer Rasheed Suliamon come in and play their roles without issue? The entire starting five has NBA aspirations down the line, so a major key for Turgeon this season will be getting everyone to share the ball for the betterment of the team. If they do, Maryland should win the Big Ten and rack up the hardware. Trimble could be the Player of the Year; Stone could be the Freshman of the Year; expect Turgeon to make it a clean sweep.

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RTC Preseason Big Ten POY: Melo Trimble

Posted by Alex Moscoso on November 12th, 2015

Maryland’s remarkable turnaround in the past 12 months has been a hot topic in the run up to this season. Mark Turgeon has transformed the proud but suffering program back into national title contenders, and while the head coach who engineered everything certainly deserves a great deal of the credit, the primary catalyst on the floor has been sophomore guard Melo Trimble. The Arlington, Virginia, native was a highly regarded four-star recruit coming out of high school, but no one expected him to immediately dominate in the manner that he did last season. To wit, Trimble finished an All-Big Ten freshman campaign by averaging 16.2 PPG, 3.9 RPG and 3.0 APG. In the offseason, he decided to spurn the NBA to lead an upgraded Maryland roster to a Big Ten title and Final Four before making the jump. There wasn’t much doubt about it: Melo Trimble is the RTC Big Ten microsite preseason Player of the Year.

Melo Trimble is the best player on the best team in the B1G. (David J. Philip/AP)

Melo Trimble is the best player on the best team in the B1G. (David J. Philip/AP)

Trimble was so effective because of his ability to both shoot the three (41.2%) and score inside (55.1% field goal shooting at rim). The shot chart below shows how most of his field goal attempts came from those two spots on the court. Additionally, his slashing ability earned him a large number of trips to the charity stripe: Trimble shot a Big Ten-best 240 free throws last season, where he made opposing teams pay for fouling him (86.3%). This combination of threes, shots at the rim and free throws made him one of the most efficient players in the league, as evidenced by his true shooting percentage of 62.8 percent (second in the Big Ten).

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Diamond Stone: RTC Preseason Big Ten ROY

Posted by Brendan Brody on November 12th, 2015

Sometimes it’s best to keep your analysis simple. There are four elite recruits coming into the Big Ten this season, and all of them are large in stature and pedigree. Each is 6’8″ or taller and played in multiple high school All-Star games last spring. Michigan State’s Devonta Davis, Indiana’s Thomas Bryant and Purdue’s Caleb Swanigan could all make huge contributions to teams that have serious aspirations for March glory. But sometimes an award just goes to the player on the best team. In this case, we here at the RTC Big Ten Microsite feel that Maryland freshman Diamond Stone will be the Big Ten’s Rookie of the Year.

Diamond Stone is our pick to be the ROY in the Big Ten(USA Today Sports).

Diamond Stone is our pick as Big Ten ROY. (USA TODAY Sports)

One year ago, Stone capped off a storied run at Dominican High School in Milwaukee by deciding to head to Maryland. In picking Mark Turgeon’s Terps, he spurned his home state school (along with Connecticut and Oklahoma State) and relations between the two parties on social media haven’t exactly been cordial since. He will bring a polished offensive game that features a variety of post moves as well as the ability to step out to three-point range. Things aren’t as rosy on the defensive end of the floor, but, at a minimum, Stone has the size and athleticism to threaten some shots at the rim. Read the rest of this entry »

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Where Are They Now? Five-Stars From 2012

Posted by Sean Moran on October 29th, 2015

RTC recruiting guru Sean Moran takes an in-depth look at the players ranked as five-star recruits from the high school Class of 2012. How many of these players are still in college? How many are already out of the NBA? We also encourage you to check out his contributions at The Intentional Foul dedicated to recruiting coverage and analysis. You can also follow Sean at his Twitter account @Seanmohoops for up-to-date news from the high school and college hoops scene. If you have any suggestions as to areas we are missing or different things you would like to see, please let us know at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

Note: Scout.com used for all player rankings.

Per Scout.com, there were 25 five-star players in the Class of 2012. Eleven of those players will suit up for a college team this season (after only seven returned last year). At the time of graduation, this particular prep class did not receive the same type of fanfare that its 2011 antecedent had (a class headlined by Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist) or the class that would follow it in 2013 (Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker). Until Nerlens Noel re-classified into the class, Shabazz Muhammad was the consensus top player in the country. Five freshmen were selected in the first round of the 2013 NBA Draft, including #1 pick Anthony Bennett (now on his third NBA team), and there have been a total of nine players drafted in the first round over the last three years. Some prospects, such as Grant Jerrett and Semaj Christon, were drafted in the second round are still bouncing around the professional ranks. Kentucky, UCLA, Arizona, Baylor and N.C. State notched the top five recruiting classes that year, but only the two Wildcats programs (in Lexington and Tucson) were able to maximize that season’s talent influx.

Sean 2012

Going into this season, Arizona’s Kaleb Tarczewski and Kentucky’s Alex Poythress are the highest ranked recruits from the Class of 2012 still playing college basketball. Other players such as Willie Cauley-Stein and Nik Stauskas weren’t five-star prospects, but they put together tremendous college campaigns and came out early as NBA lottery picks. Big things are expected out of Providence guard Kris Dunn this year — just check anyone’s All-America list — but there are also a bunch of four-star players also gracing those same teams. North Carolina guard Marcus Paige, Indiana guard Yogi Ferrell, Kansas forward Perry Ellis, and Iowa State forward Georges Niang are all solid bets to also find their names on such lists this season. Somewhat surprisingly, it could be Maryland that benefits the most from the Class of 2012. The Terps lost one top-50 player to transfer (Shaquille Cleare), but they will be adding two former five-stars to the roster this season: former Duke guard Rasheed Sulaimon, and Georgia Tech transfer Robert Carter. The 2012 class may not have generated much in terms of NBA stardom (yet), but the upcoming college season should benefit from the presence of those guys who are still around.

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Team Chemistry the Only Issue that Can Sink Maryland

Posted by Alex Moscoso on October 21st, 2015

Maryland hosted its version of Midnight Madness at the Xfinity Center last Saturday. There is much to celebrate in College Park this preseason as the Terrapins, flush with talent with as many as five future NBA players taking the court, are the favorite to win the Big Ten. With so much professional talent on the roster, it’s no wonder that the smart money is on Mark Turgeon‘s squad to make a significant postseason run next March. This October’s situation is in stark contrast from where this program was just a short 12 months ago. Plenty of stories have already been written about that turnaround, but less has been written about the one issue that can undo all of the hype. Team chemistry among a group still learning to succeed is the one thing that can trip up this Maryland team’s aspirations of conference and national banners.

Melo Trimble looks to lead preseason favorite Maryland to a Big Ten title and Final Four. (David J. Philip/AP)

Melo Trimble looks to lead preseason favorite Maryland to a Big Ten title and Final Four. (David J. Philip/AP)

We can’t talk about potential issues with team chemistry without first talking about the individual players — an incredibly talented group of players, mind you. Maryland returns Melo Trimble, Jake Layman and Damonte Dodd from last year’s conference second place squad. Trimble was the breakout star, leading the team in scoring (16.2 PPG) and assists (3.0 APG) as a freshman. Layman is a lanky, athletic scorer with tremendous upside, coming in third on the team in scoring and minutes a year ago. And Dodd has proven himself as a capable defensive presence in the post, showing even more signs of improvement this season. Additional returnees Michal Cekovsky, Dion Wiley and Jared Nickens make up a deep bench for Turgeon.

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Ten Offseason Storylines From the Big Ten

Posted by Brendan Brody on October 15th, 2014

We’re about a month away from Big Ten basketball once again being a part of our lives. Things at the B1G microsite have been quiet since then, but that doesn’t mean nothing has happened since last April. So here’s a quick refresher to get everybody back up to speed since we last saw Wisconsin lose a heart-breaker to Kentucky in the Final Four. These 10 offseason storylines are in no particular order, but they will impact what will happen this season.

Frank Kaminsky came back to school for his senior season to lead a veteran Wisconsin team with a chance to go back to the  Final Four. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

Frank Kaminsky came back to school for his senior season to lead a veteran Wisconsin team with a chance to go back to the
Final Four. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

  • Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker Returned to School: Postseason souting reports had Kaminsky going everywhere from #15 to #45 in the NBA Draft, even after a regular season where he led the Badgers in scoring and contributed NCAA Tournament averages of 16.4 PPG and 5.8 RPG on 55 percent shooting from the field. Dekker probably could have pursued NBA riches as well, but they both came back to Madison, making the Badgers — with two other returning starters in Josh Gasser and Traveon Jackson — an almost unanimous conference favorite.
  • Gary Harris and a Quartet of Michigan Players Didn’t: Things aren’t quite as rosy in East Lansing or Ann Arbor as far as preseason outlooks go. That’s because to the surprise of almost no one Gary Harris departed for the NBA after his sophomore year. This means that the Spartans will be without three of their four double-figure scorers from last season’s Elite Eight team. Meanwhile, Michigan is rebuilding things from scratch after the early NBA departures of sophomores Nik Stauskas, Glenn Robinson III, and Mitch McGary. None of the trio was ever a sure thing to jump to the pros, but things got especially wonky when it was learned that McGary would be suspended for the entire 2014-15 season due to a positive drug test during the NCAA tournament. Another Michigan gut punch was the transfer of Jon Horford to Florida, leaving the Wolverines with almost no experience on the front line heading into this season.

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