Maryland’s 3-point Defense Must Shine Against Purdue

By: Eddie Hobbs

In Maryland’s first Big Ten away game of the season, 3-point defense is going to have to be a priority for the Terps as they take on a Purdue team that has taken 241 attempts from beyond the arc this season.

Two games ago when Maryland took on Virginia at home, the 3-point ball is what eventually buried the Terps in a 76-71 loss against the Cavaliers. There were too many open shooters as Maryland looked lost on a few possessions, letting Virginia players get great looks multiple times.

On the season thus far, the Terps have been a middle-of-the-pack team in the Big Ten in regards to 3-point defense, allowing a 30.3 percent clip from deep. But against a team like Purdue, who hoist up 30.1 3-point attempts per game, Maryland will have to be ready to run players off the 3-point line to limit the Boilermakers big play ability.

Jalen Smith missed a 3-point attempt, and Virginia secured the rebound and brought the ball up the court. The Cavaliers ran a quick set play with their sharpshooter Kyle Guy coming off a screen by De’Andre Hunter. Darryl Morsell was a little slow getting past the screen, giving Guy a comfortable look to give Virginia a 3-point lead. Morsell needs to be more aggressive coming over screens, especially with Guy who attempts six 3-pointers per game.

On Virginia’s very next possession, the Cavaliers run a simple pick and roll between Kihei Clark and Hunter. Morsell learned from the previous possession and quickly got over the screen to trail Clark closely. Maryland deploys a switch defense when necessary, but not every time a screen is created. Here Smith drifts too far from Hunter as Smith tries to help Morsell with Clark. Smith’s recovery is too late as Hunter gives Virginia the 10-7 lead.

Virgina’s Mamadi Diakiite set an initial screen to get Hunter open on the perimeter. Smith was too slow to react to Hunter getting open, which leads to Fernando going out to help protect the 3-point line. As Hunter pump-fakes and drives into the paint, he draws the eyes of four Maryland defenders and he dishes out to Ty Jerome who cashes in on the open shot. Cowan was trailing Jerome–and was only a few steps away–but Hunter drew Cowan in by gashing inside the paint.

Maryland struggled against Virginia’s screens and didn’t properly communicate with one another on switches. Purdue’s Carsen Edwards and Ryan Cline are two players that can come off a screen and immediately create a shot from deep, and Maryland cannot afford to lose track of this duo on Thursday night.

“I’m not sure there is any way to guard Carson Edwards because he is so fast… he’s got the ultimate green light,” head coach Mark Turgeon said. “He can shoot from deep range, so he’s a special player.”

Edwards is a high-volume shooter that can practically shoot from anywhere on the floor. Purdue loves to get quick hand-offs to its guards and rely on great screens by Matt Haarms. On Purdue’s inbound play, Haarms gets the ball outside the 3-point line, while Edwards quickly comes around a screen as the ball is traded off. Haarms screen keeps Ignas Brazdeikis far enough away from Edwards, who hoists a deep shot that hits nothing but net.

In Purdue’s slim 73-72 loss to Florida State, the Boilermakers shot 36 percent from the 3-point line. Cline was a blazing 63 percent from deep, and on this play in particular, shows why Maryland needs to stay by his hip throughout the game. Cline and Haarms have a quick give-and-go where Cline quickly loses his defender. This play works out perfectly for Cline, as he fakes to go around the screen, and changes direction on a dime to make both Florida State defenders go in the opposite direction. Haarms screen gives Cline just enough room to get off a shot, and bring Purdue back within four.

The Boilermakers dropped their second straight game after losing 76-57 at Michigan on Dec. 1. Cline had another solid outing for Purdue, and has shot 10-of-16 from beyond the arc over the past two games. Here, Michigan switched defenders while Cline came over a screen. Isaiah Rivers gave Cline too much space coming around a screen and the senior made them pay.

“I think Cline is a big time shooter with a high release, just gotta push him off the line and be there, and be alert all game,” Turgeon said.

Maryland will have to show defensive efforts like it did against Penn State, holding the Nittany Lions to just 5-21 shooting from 3-point range. Stopping Edwards and Cline will be key to limiting the Boilermakers deep-range success on Thursday night.

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