Everything But the Finish: Maryland Falls to Purdue

What an ugly, ugly game. Maryland got their butts beat by Purdue 67-53. This was a hard one to watch, but not for the typical reasons. Despite the score, the Terps played with a tenacity that few teams could manage while struggling to score.

This group of players has all the markings of a good team, minus the ability to put the ball in the bucket. Defensively they have improved significantly since the start of the year, and the offense creates plenty of opportunities, they just don’t capitalize. Shooting 33% from the floor and 22.7% from behind the arc isn’t going to cut it even for a high school JV team.

So here’s the rub, those numbers look like crap, and they are crap, but the shots aren’t. It’s hard to explain through a blog post, but being so close to the action in the arena (sick brag, Sean) I had a great vantage point for the whole night.

Shot after shot, I could see how the trajectory was just a liiiiiiiiiittle bit off. A few inches here and there and those misses suddenly start stinging the net; but they just wouldn’t fall tonight. I can’t imagine many things more infuriating as a fan than watching your team do (mostly) all the right things, with no reward for their efforts. This frustration was most evident with the play of Freshman DeShawn Harris-Smith.

For 95% of his time on the floor, DHS was giving every ounce of energy he could muster, but could only manage a putrid 1-7 shooting effort and only two points. They say numbers never lie, but they do with this kid’s effort tonight. The points weren’t there but the aggression, both offensively and defensively, were evident. His shit selection was good, especially given the mounting frustration throughout the night; most Freshman would take that frustration and turn it into bone-headed mistakes, but he didn’t.

I feel for DHS because the last 5% of his time on the court a Purdue player made him look foolish on a behind-the-back crossover, draining a wide open three. The defensive effort wasn’t the same from the youngster on that play, earning him a spot on the bench the rest of the night. You could tell it wasn’t because he stopped caring, he was just defeated emotionally. Good things are supposed to happen when you put in the right kind of effort, and the ride will eventually turn for #5, tonight just wasn’t his night.

So all-in-all the score looks ugly, and the results are frustrating as all hell, but it’s because the boys played the right way without being able to reap the benefits. Things will eventually turn around, especially when Jamie Kaiser figures out how to get more minutes; his shot is easily the best looking outside of Jahmir Young’s. Speaking of Young, I feel for him that his last season is spent with a young (no pun intended) squad going through excruciating growing pains. He’s been nothing but class, heart and effort every time he steps on the floor. We would all be wise to soak in and appreciate as much of his game as we can over the next few months.

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