Maryland looks to find their feel while staring at the RAC
The Maryland Terrapins basketball team looks to travel to Jersey Mike’s Arena to face a Rutgers team who flabbergasted the conference with a huge win over top ranked Purdue. It will be a hard task after several disappointing games. Maryland emphatically hopes not to number two against the team who beat number one. When asked about the upcoming game coach Kevin Willard volleyed a question back to reporters with “You’ve never played at the RAC have you?” insinuating how difficult of a fan base it is to play in front of.
After a red-hot and sensual start to the season Maryland grew plenty of national attention a climaxing them close to a top ten rankings. The intensity was short lived however, as Maryland’s flaccid shooting has been one of the worst in the country since then. Our expectations simmered to a 10 – 4 record and out of the top twenty-five rankings going 2-4 in their last six and getting the doors blown off in two of those losses.
Maryland currently ranks an undesirable 304th of 352 NCAA teams in three-point shooting percentage. However, it has not just been the three-point shooting according to Head Coach Kevin Willard, “There is nothing to be pleased about.” when discussing the team’s disappearance against Michigan last game. Big man Hunter Dickerson had his way while the fans were forced to watch him pound the rim.
Rutgers will statistically hold a slight grip in point differential, rebounds, and turnovers and sportsbooks have Rutgers giving 5.5 points at home. This is largely due to starting center Clifford Omoruyi who leads the team in points (14.8) and rebounds (9.8). While the offense will run primarily through Omoruyi, Maryland will still need to guard Cam Spencer, Aundre Hyatt, and Caleb McConnell who each average double-digit points per game.
Maryland will be led by transfer point guard and Upper Marlboro native Jahmir Young to pace the Terrapins offense who is averaging 14 points per game. However, all eyes will be on big man Julian Reese who has struggled to find himself after a shoulder injury in the UCLA game. If Reese cannot return to his early season disposition, Maryland will need to look elsewhere for an answer.
With limited depth at the forward and center position, Maryland must find a way to negate the Rutgers attack either through athleticism or three-point shooting. Neither are exactly hopeful options as Rutgers has excellent athleticism and the aforementioned horrendous shooting displays by the Terps this season.
Willard has sworn over and over that this team is a good shooting team, but their lack of chemistry on offense and each player playing outside themselves when behind has caused the poor shooting. If this is true, Maryland can hopefully find its form and get a firm hold at the RAC.
If I were to open a fortune cookie, I would speculate this has the trappings of another disastrous showing by the Terps. Omoruyi will be the key and Maryland will not have an answer, even if Reese is a full go for the game. I expect Omoruyi to be salivating at the Terps front court and hopes to put on a display for NBA scouts.
That said, we do not know which Maryland team will appear. There have been moments this season where Maryland genuinely looked like the makings of not only a top ten team, but a conference champion. Their team is predicated on its defense and their ability to control the pace of play. When Maryland is good, they are exceptionally good. Maryland will be looking to show their full display after teasing the fans earlier this season. If Maryland can find a feel for the game, they could very well remind the country that Maryland basketball plans on lasting for more than a minute.
Maryland 72 – Rutgers 69