Maryland Primer

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Jontel Evans may need to fill a scoring role for the Hoos.

After losing consecutive games for the first time this season, the Virginia Cavaliers (19-6, 6-5 ACC) return home from a two-game road trip to face the Maryland Terrapins (15-10, 5-6 ACC) on Saturday. Will the Hoos pick up a much-needed win against the Terps to bolster their chances at securing a bid to the NCAA Tournament? A soldout crowd will be on hand to find the answer.

Here’s a Maryland Primer to prep fans for the game …

1. Last year, in what turned out to be the swan song season for future Hall of Fame coach Gary Williams, the Hoos were able to split with the Terps, falling 42-66 at home and coasting to a 74-60 victory at the Comcast Center on Maryland’s Senior Night. That Terrapins’ squad featured a few players we won’t see on Saturday. Most importantly, Jordan Williams, who led the Terps in points (16.9), rebounds (11.8) and blocks (1.4) per game last year, is helping the Nets play out the string in New Jersey before their move to Brooklyn. That team’s third-leading scorer, Cliff Tucker, graduated and played a bit of wide receiver for UTEP during a postgrad year. Fourth-leading scorer Dino Gregory is now playing in the land of IKEA as a player on the Sundsvall Dragons. And fifth-leading scorer Adrian Bowie was recently named ACPBL player of the week as a member of the Bay Area Shuckers. Finally, role player Haukur Paisson left the Terps early to lace them up with Basquet Manresa of Spain’s ACB league.

We also won’t be seeing Pe’Shon Howard, who started seven games as Maryland’s point guard last year. This year, Howard missed the first nine games of the Terps’ season after suffering a stress fracture in his foot. He then played in Maryland’s next 14 games before being shut down for the season two games ago after tearing his ACL. Overall, these 6 players combined to score 85.3% (87/102) of the Terps’ points against UVa last year.

2. The Terps are a tough team to pin down this year. They rate No. 127 in KenPom and No. 95 in RPI. As noted, though, Pe’Shon Howard didn’t play in Maryland’s first 9 games. In addition, the Terrapins didn’t have the services of freshman big man Alex Len for their first 10 games. Given the fact that Maryland was already shorthanded to start the season, it performed admirably in pre-ACC out of conference play, securing wins against Colorado and Notre Dame that look a lot better now than when they occurred. Otherwise, the Terps’ non-conference slate consisted of close wins over bad teams and not so close defeats at the hands of three bubble teams (losing 62-42 against Alabama, 89-62 against Iona, and 71-62 against Illinois). In ACC play, Maryland stands at 5-6, with its best road performances being a 90-86 double overtime loss in Miami and a 64-62 win over Clemson at Littlejohn in its last game before Howard went down (Maryland also lost to Temple 73-60 at the Palestra in the middle of conference play). In two games since Howard’s knee injury, the Terps lost to Duke 73-55 in Durham and trounced Boston College 81-65 at home in a game played at 9 p.m. on Thursday.

3. Maryland chose to replace Gary Williams with Mark Turgeon, a Larry Brown disciple who came to College Park after prior stints at Jacksonville State, Wichita State, and Texas A&M, where he led the Aggies to four straight NCAA Tournament berths.

After facing variations of the flex offense for the last 22 years, Virginia will finally see a different Maryland offense. Like his mentor (who has been to a few Terps’ practices this season), Turgeon runs a motion offense. He runs this offense out of a few different sets, with the predominant one being the 1-2-2 (double stack) set. In a common look out of this set, two Terps start in the low post, with two Terps in the high post. The point guard then takes the ball to either sideline, and the low posts set screens for the high posts. From there, curls and additional screens can lead to feeding the post or guards catching and shooting in space. Last September, Terps Insider broke down Texas A&M footage to show both of these actions out of the 1-2-2 set. Tomahawk Nation also did a nice breakdown of Turgeon’s double stack set as well as the offense that he less frequently runs out of a 1-1-3 set. Additionally, HoopScoop has some nice diagrams of a bit of a different look that Turgeon sometimes runs out of the 1-2-2 set. Finally, when you have a scorer like Terrell Stoglin, you’re wise to run plays designed to get him open. Fundamentals First Basketball Coaching Net recently broke down some different ways that Turgeon freed Stoglin during the Temple game, including this single-double baseline screen:

I am confident in the Pack-Line defense neutralizing the Terps’ bigs, who don’t have much of a size advantage against UVa’s undersized frontcourt. The question will thus be whether the Cavaliers can slow down the Terrapins’ backcourt and especially Stoglin. Overall, Maryland ranks No. 110 in the country in adjusted offensive efficiency.

4. On the defensive end of the floor, Turgeon primarily runs a man-to-man defense. At least in his first year, coaching a thin, undersized team lacking in elite defenders, Turgeon has told his players to sag and prevent penetration rather than attack and seek steals. Again, this is quite a change from the Gary Williams regime, who liked to turn up the defensive heat and wasn’t afraid to press. Turgeon occasionally has employed pressure and presses, such as in the Miami game, but the proof is in the pudding. Last year, the Terps were No. 98 in the country in opponent turnovers per possession. This year, they are No. 330. That’s a sight for sore eyes for the Cavs, who just coughed it up 18 times against Clemson. Maryland ranks No. 159 in adjusted defensive efficiency.

5. Starting lineup:

Can UVa’s wing players bring more scoring punch?

PG: With the injury to Howard, No. 5 Nick Faust, a 6’6″, 175-pound freshman, likely will start at point for the Terps for the third straight game. Faust came to College Park with a reputation as a terrific athlete and shooter and while he has appeared plenty athletic so far, he hasn’t gotten his shot to drop that frequently. His shooting numbers are pretty poor across the board: 34.2% from the field, 20.3% from 3, and 60.7% from the line. These stats partially can be explained by the fact that Faust is a freshman playing out of position, which in turn explains why he has a negative assist/turnover ratio of 2.1/2.2 (although he did have 6 assists against BC). Faust is known as a hard worker, and his determination extends to the defensive side of the ball, where he uses his length and athleticism to be a disruptive defender, forcing a turnover a game, second on the team. When Faust is playing the point, he also provides a boost on the boards, pulling down 2.9 rebounds a game.

SG: No. 12 Terrell Stoglin, a 6’1″, 185-pound sophomore, is the starting shooting guard, and he’s not shy about letting it fly. Stoglin’s shots (16.2) and points (21.7) per game are both more than double the average for any other Terrapins’ player. He’s able to launch all of these shots because he is lightning quick and can score from anywhere on the court, including from behind the 3-point arc where he takes 7.2 shots per game and connects on 37.8% of them. Stoglin’s overall shooting percentage of 43% isn’t terrific, but, because he takes such a high percentage of his shots from long range (44.44%), his effective field goal percentage of 51.3% means that he’s not a mad bomber. With Howard out, Stoglin will sometimes run the point, and he doesn’t quite have the handle or court vision to play the “1.” Like Faust, he has a negative assist/turnover ratio (2.0/2.3), which comes from a combination of trying to do too much with the ball and his teammates often remaining stationary when Stoglin has the ball in isolation. Turgeon has gotten on Stoglin about his lack of intensity on the defensive end of the floor (and some postgame tweets). Stoglin’s never going to be a lock down defender, but, when he puts his mind to it, he can use his size to be an adequate one. Last year, Stoglin scored a combined 16 points against Virginia on 7-17 shooting in the two games.

SF: At the “3,” No. 14 Sean Mosley, a 6’4″, 210 pound senior, should get the starting nod. Mosley is a blue collar player who never quite lived up to his high school reputation as a scorer. He’s a bit of a jack of all trades, rebounding from a junior slump to lead the Terps in steals per game (1.1), 3-point percentage (39.5%), and free throw percentage (82.1%). Mosley is also the only Terp the Hoos will see on Saturday who boasts a positive assist/turnover ratio (1.9/1.6), which he achieves through a combination of an above average handle and playing within himself. Besides Stoglin, Mosley is the only Terp who averages double digit points per game (10.3), and he also does work on the boards, averaging almost 5 rebounds a game. Mosley is also probably the Terps’ best defender, and, given Joe Harris ‘ injury, UVa could struggle to score points from the “3” spot. Last year, he put up a couple of goose eggs against Virginia, shooting 0-3 in both games.

PF: Down low, No. 30 Ashton Pankey, a 6’9″, 220-pound redshirt freshman, should get the go. Pankey has started 14 games for the Terps this season, including the last 7. Pankey is a face-up “4” who gets most of his points in the midrange game rather than in the low post, where he has yet to develop any real moves. This makes sense, given that he didn’t really start playing hoops competitively until his junior year of high school and saw one minute of action last year before suffering a stress fracture in his left leg. This season, the injury hasn’t seemed to hinder Pankey, who looks pretty smooth on the court. That said, Pankey lacks the pounds and the polish to pour in the points, and he’s only averaging 5.1 points per game on 48% shooting from the field. His free throw shooting percentage of 59% is also a bit pedestrian. Defensively, Pankey often has difficulty holding position against bigger posts, but he has the speed (and more importantly the hustle) to keep up with posts like Mike Scott who roam outside the paint, and he uses his athleticism to corral just less than 5 boards a game.

PF: Joining Pankey in the frontcourt likely will be No. 35 James Padgett, a 6’8″, 215-pound junior who has started 21 games for the Terps this season. Padgett didn’t start in Maryland’s last game against Boston College, but that was ostensibly because Turgeon needed someone bigger (Berend Weijs) to match up with Dennis Clifford. Padgett has some nice moves in the post, including spins and drop steps; he loves contact and gets good elevation for his size. He’s also able to finish down low with either hand. All of these attributes allow him to chip in 8.9 points per game on 50.3% shooting from the field. Padgett, however, has a weak handle and isn’t much of a threat to score outside the paint; he also isn’t known for his ability to pass it out of the post. While Padgett can be a terror on the offensive boards (3.6 offensive rebounds a game), he also coughs it up 1.5 times a game and has had 3 turnovers in each of the last two games. Like Pankey, Padgett can be dominated by larger opponents on the defensive end, but, luckily for him, Assane Sene , who had a career-high 15 points at Maryland last year, won’t be in the lineup on Saturday. Last year, Padgett only played against Virginia in the game against JPJ and scored 1 point.

Key reserves:

C: No. 25 Alex Len is a 7’1″, 225-pound freshman from the Ukraine, who nbadraft.net already has tapped as the No. 9 prospect in the 2013 NBA Draft, and it is easy to justify the selection. Len glides down the court, has shown the ability to put the ball on the floor, turns back 2.2 shots per game, and shoots 59.7% from the floor. So, why doesn’t he shoot more? As noted, Len missed the Terps’ first 10 games because of a suspension due to “amateurism violations,” and he then came charging out of the gate with four straight double digit scoring nights, culminating with a 12-point effort at NC State on 5-7 shooting. But Len has only taken 7 or more shots in one game since that ACC opener, when he scored 12 points on 5-8 shooting against North Carolina four games ago. Since then, Len has scored 2, 4, and 2 points in the Terps’ last 3 games on a total of 9 shots. On the season, Len is averaging 20.7 minutes and 6.5 points per game. Part of this passivity might be explained by an ankle injury that Len suffered in the Temple game, or maybe he’s just having the typical difficulties that plague most freshman or the less typical difficulties faced by foreign players learning a new country and language.

SF: No. 11 Mychal Parker , a 6’5″, 195-pound sophomore, averages 17.4 minutes per game off the bench. Like Tristan Spurlock in his time at UVa, Parker was a highly touted freshman recruit who looked completely lost whenever he hit the floor his freshman year. But unlike Spurlock, Parker stuck it out and might be on the verge of reaping the rewards. Parker is plenty athletic but he has a loose handle and an inconsistent shot and is only averaging 4.7 points per game in 17.4 minutes per game. But in the last two games, he has looked a lot better, notching 12 points on 3-4 shooting at Duke and 7 points on 3-5 shooting against Boston College. Keep in mind, though, that many of Parker’s points come on the fast break, which the Terps will have trouble running against Virginia’s transition defense. Another aspect of Parker’s game that distinguishes him for Spurlock is that he puts in real effort on the defensive side of the ball, where he uses his athleticism to shut down opposing small forwards.

C: No. 10 Berend Weijs, a 6’10”, 200-pound senior, from the Netherlands by way of Harcum College, is another Terp who is more blue collar than blue chip. Weijs is basically a big body off the bench who uses his length rather than his strength to defend opposing posts. He uses his height to get .7 blocks and 2 rebounds a game but isn’t going to do much more on the offensive end than take up space. In 11.6 minutes a game, Weijs averages just less than 2 shots a game and scores just more than 2 points a game. When he does get to the line, his free throw shooting (38.9%) would make even Mason Plumlee blush. Consistent with his averages this year, Weijs scored 2 points in each of the UVa games last year.

6. The Team Rankings simulation (available here) has the game as a 65.1-57.5 Virginia win. As noted, though, this Maryland team is difficult to pin down for a number of reasons, including Howard’s recent injury. And of course, we all know that it’s difficult to assess the Hoos after the injuries to Assane Sene and Joe Harris . Both teams have thin benches, but UVa last played on Tuesday while Maryland has about 38 hours to recover for a 1 p.m. game on Saturday after playing Boston College at 9 p.m. on Thursday. Virginia should thus be the fresher team on Saturday, and there are a few other reasons to like the Hoos’ chances too.

As noted, Maryland is one of the worst teams in the country at forcing turnovers, and teams who can’t create turnovers against the Cavaliers (usually) can’t beat them. The same goes for teams without experienced point guards, and the point guard by committee approach Saturday in Howard’s absence should have a tough time breaking down the Pack-Line. Expect most of Maryland’s shots to come off of isolation plays and individual efforts, mostly by Stoglin. Even with Howard playing for most of the year, Maryland is No. 310 in the country in assists per possession while the Hoos are No. 2 in the country in opponent assists per possession. Since Harris’ injury near the end of the first half in Chapel Hill, the level of play with UVa understandably has dropped precipitously. But I think that the Hoos right the ship this weekend and play a lot better in a 61-56 win at the John Paul Jones Arena.

Author’s Note: Many of the statistics and analysis in this article were gathered through watching the two teams, ESPN.com, 504-C Brandon’s TAPE site, Warren Nolan RPI site, Teamrankings.com, and KenPom.com.

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