Maryland has cornucopia of concerns before Thanksgiving
As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches and before the belly ache of the Big 10 settles, it seems appropriate that we take a seat at the table look around to discuss the appetizers, what we are thankful for this season as well as discuss our hopes for the holidays approaching.
While the initial spread of games seemed light, the Vermont game was tough, Hofstra was gamey, and frankly we bit off more than we could chew with George Mason. The sour taste in our mouths made many of us wonder exactly who was cooking in the kitchen this offseason and more importantly, what was left on our plate?
It is important to note that not just Maryland, but every NCAA team this year is seeing more competition from mid-majors. The transfer portal has been a two-way street more than expected with four and five start recruits electing to leave to smaller programs to find playing time and “Super Seniors” staying together for one more year (See Vermont) to claim one more chance at glory. George Mason was not easy to stomach with similarly talented players as Maryland. Not only that, but the parody in all levels of basketball globally appears to be thinning. Sure. Some of these leftovers from top programs are reaching the full flavor with a little more time to season.
Things we are having trouble stomaching
Serving for three: 25% Shooting from three this season. How bad is that in comparison? That puts the Terps ranked 333 of 350 NCAA schools. Top ranked teams are shooting no lower than 35%, the frustration from the arc is real for Maryland. The top shooter from range this season? Backup center Julian Reese. More on him in a minute.
Main dish is under prepared: Why does it seem like every year Maryland needs more time to marinate? Is the offense that complicated? Do we play on different sized rims that everyone else? I can understand that players need time fully prepare for their best style of play, but the slow starts combined with sluggish shooting is curdling on our televisions. Maryland has had to rely on talent to overwhelm opposing team’s best dishes, but if Turgeon cannot find a better recipe for success its going to cost him a seat at the table.
Family presence: The Terps’ attendance has been low. Appetizers are still being passed around, but grandma is starting to ask someone to text the rest of the relatives who they have not seen since the pandemic. They said they would be here, but only for the main course. We will have to patiently wait.
Things we are thankful for
Getting loaded on Trans-Fatts: Fatts Russell the transfer from Rhode Island has been the catalyst of this team. His pace of play is one of the tops in the nation. We unfairly compared him to Anthony Cowan at the start of the year, but it’s hard not to see the similarities. Russell is not the shooter of Cowan, nor does he finish around the rim, but he is an excellent defender with a high basketball IQ. The team is noticeably better when they are on the floor.
Reese for dessert: When Reese’s announced they had a full-grown pie sized Reese’s cup this year, I lost my mind with excitement. However, I’d trade 100 of them for Julian Reese to continue his development. Some players just have “it”. How sweet has Julian been this season? He is one of those special players. I would still like to find a way for both he and Wahab to be on the floor at the same time, but if he can continue to provide depth that we have not seen since the Bruno Fernado/Jalen Smith combination.
Turge-duckin: I hate the offense. I have said it for a while now. I have tried to justify it and I cannot. However, I do need to give Turgeon credit when credit is due. He has not ducked uncomfortable lineups when he feels it is his best chance to win. This has included taking his top options of Ayala, Russell, and Wahab off the court in favor of Martinez, Green, and Reese. Being down at halftime, he was not afraid to adjust to give Maryland the better chance to win and I am thankful for that.
What can we hope for?
This break was the best thing that could have happened for Maryland. They were playing below their potential and needed additional time off before part two of the nonconference schedule. I do not believe it is needed in terms of rest, but instead a term to let all the new ingredients marinade. When playing, Wahab is one of the most efficient scorers for Maryland that they desperately need at times. However, he also needs to figure out how to distribute the basketball when double teamed and work on his rotations on defense. I do believe he will get this figured out eventually.
Ayala finds his shot. I am not sure what was said at the NBA combine, but Ayala appears to be forcing the game when it does not come to him. I do not want to believe he is stat padding because he has never indicated that, but it appears that way at times. I would like to see the game come to him and find rhythm in his jump shot.
This team is still talented. I would like them to find their chemistry before Big 10 play. Until then, let us load up our plates and get ready for Richmond. Happy Thanksgiving Terps fans.