Hakim Hart, Perimeter Defense and Half Court Offense: Three Takeaways from Maryland’s loss at Purdue.

(Photo Courtesy of Maryland Athletics.)

Even though Maryland basketball did not get the gift it wanted this year, it did provide Maryland fans with an exciting Big Ten clash that lasted until the final minute. 

“Our guys battled and that’s all I can ask,” head coach Mark Turgeon said. “We always felt like we were gonna win. We just couldn’t get over the hump at the end.”

The Terps (5-3, 0-2 B1G) fell victim to their mistakes following an eventful 40 minutes against Purdue (7-3, 2-1 B1G) and suffered a close 73-70 loss. There are several things to take from Maryland’s loss against its Big Ten foe, but for the sake of brevity: 

Here are three takeaways from Maryland’s loss at Purdue. 

Half court offense stagnated in the first half but things got better in the second.

In the opening half, Maryland’s offense was nowhere near where it should be. In the half court setting, the lack of creativity on offense led to needless turnovers, contested shots and frequently wasted possessions. As a result, the Terps subsequently entered halftime facing a 41-28 deficit. For players like guard Eric Ayala and forward Aaron Wiggins, who can make things happen off the dribble, the lack of variety of offense is often negligible. But for players who benefit from a fluid offense, like Donta Scott and Jairus Hamilton, there is plenty to address. Fortunately for the Terps, things quickly turned around in the second half. 

“We overpenetrated and held on to the ball too much in the first half and the second half we penetrated and pitched,” said Turgeon. “We missed some wide open ones but we made some wide open ones too.” 

After combining for zero points in the first half, Hamilton and Scott totaled 21 points in the final 20 minutes of the game. In a more cerebral half, only one turnover was committed, shots were falling and, most importantly, the ball was moving. Hamilton’s two threes cut the Boilermakers lead to just one early in the period. But when that wasn’t enough, it was Scott’s 15 points that spearheaded the tying effort in the closing minutes of the game. The Terps outscored the Boilermakers 42-32 in the second half after scoring just 28 points in the opening period. 

“When we move it we’re hard to guard,” said Turgeon. “It’s just one of those nights where you’re just swimming uphill the whole night and we couldn’t get over the hump.”

Perimeter Defense? 

After giving up 10 threes in the final half against La Salle, the Terps defensive woes at the perimeter continued against the Boilermakers. By the time Purdue hit its third three eight minutes into the contest, it captured a double-digit lead it held rather consistently until Maryland’s long comeback effort in the final half. A majority of the Boilermakers points came from behind the arc in the opening minutes and they created a lead that proved to be insurmountable for the visitors. In total, the Terps conceded seven triples in the first half and three more in the second half. 

“Our perimeter defense wasn’t good enough,” said Turgeon. “Whether it [was] getting beat off the dribble or giving up threes.”

Hakim Hart is the future. Keep starting him. 

Hakim Hart has made major improvements as a scorer, so it makes sense to start him. In place of a defensive minded Darryl Morsell, Turgeon opted to start Hart for the first few minutes of Maryland’s second Big Ten match of the season. Hart failed to accomplish much on the court beyond four points in the opening half, but as he gets more opportunities to develop with the starting lineup his chances of fitting in the offense next season will improve greatly. 

The unfortunate reality for Maryland is that Morsell will not be on the roster for much longer, so the decision to start Hart is ideal. As the future of this Maryland offense moves in a different direction, it’s vital to instill confidence in the sophomore. It’s how Turgeon will set the foundation for a new era of Maryland basketball. 

Up next, Maryland heads to No. 9 ranked Wisconsin in search of a much needed Big Ten win.