Maryland’s ranked gauntlet continues. This time against a revamped, No. 17 Minnesota lineup perfectly equipped to exploit plenty of Maryland’s flaws. The Gophers (11-4, 4-4 B1G), likely still discontent with the results of their last meeting with the Terps (8-7, 2-6 B1G) last season, are well beyond the days of blowing 17-point leads and instead have focused this season on dispatching some of the best teams in the Big Ten.
Maryland has achieved similar success in the conference this year, but unlike Minnesota, it lacks the consistency to translate their fleeting success to substantial wins. Ultimately, consistency is what head coach Mark Turgeon believes puts more W’s in Maryland’s win column.
“We can’t play pretty good to beat the teams in this league, we have to play really well,” Turgeon said. “It’s just about being more consistent on both ends and competing at a high level.”
Still, consistency is only one element of the game that only gets better with time. On the court, Maryland will have to seek immediate results on the defensive side of the ball. Though it seems redundant, especially at this point of the season, it’s evident that a good Maryland defense can fuel a potent offense. And against a team that boasts one of the best guards of the nation, a stifling half court defense will surely be necessary.
“[Marcus Carr]’s a really really good player,” Turgeon said. “Maybe one of the best, if not the best offensive player in the league. He’s top 2 or three for sure.”
Carr’s 20-point per game average with fairly efficient splits prove he’s been effective in various roles on the Gopher’s offense, whether that be in the pick and roll, isolation or off the ball. Regardless, the offense still primarily runs through him. Of course, Minnesota wouldn’t be much in the league without a big to compliment Carr’s guard play.
What was once Daniel Oturu down low is now Liam Robbins, a seven-foot transfer from Drake. Robbins isn’t exactly the NBA prospect that Oturu was, lacking much of the athleticism and footwork that made his predecessor great, but he does bring an ability to stretch the floor and protect the rim — a combination Maryland hasn’t seen too much of.
“We’re gonna have to mix our defenses and coverages as the game goes on,” Turgeon said. “He’s good on the low block too and he’s so long and so big.”
In a game like this, the Terps perimeter and interior defense will have to be sharp, they have to bring considerable bench production and they must avoid settling for bad shots and passes in half court settings. Tentativeness is perhaps their biggest enemy on offense.
A pair of wins against two Top 15 opponents is enough evidence pointing towards Maryland’s capabilities as a strong defensive squad. A good defensive night for Galin Smith, Darryl Morsell and sometimes even Aaron Wiggins almost always constitutes good results for the Terps, but their defensive success as a collective has to take hold again at some point.
And it has to be sustained for longer than just a game to really translate into meaningful wins that can truly turn around Maryland’s fortunes this season.
Tip off is scheduled for 2:00 p.m. and the game will air on BTN.