1) Justin Jackson and Ivan Bender both were ruled out for extended periods of time after recent injuries. Who has stepped up in their stead and how has it adjusted preseason expectations?
With just a two-game sample size, it doesn’t appear that anyone new has stepped up in their place. Instead, the plan looks to be get the most out of what’s left. When Justin Jackson went down that shifted more of the scoring load to Anthony Cowan and Kevin Huerter and made rebounding a team priority. Bruno Fernando and Michal Cekovsky stood out against Penn State, but it took a near perfect game from each of them, and Cowan has played 95 percent of Maryland’s minutes in Big Ten play. Darryl Morsell, Dion Wiley and Jared Nickens are all candidates to step up, but they haven’t so far.
2) Maryland, as a whole, ranks in the bottom 40 of offensive turnover percentage per KenPom. In what ways have they struggled on that end and how do they counteract those deficiencies?
Maryland’s problem is often playing too fast or making the wrong read. A lot of avoidable mistakes. The only time they successfully mitigated their turnover problem was against Penn State, when they finished with five. Also despite the blowout, the Terps only had 12 against Michigan State. They’re taking steps in the right direction. When they slow down the pace, they limit the mistakes. Sounds simpler than their turnover rate has suggested, but with a short bench, a slower pace was already en route. It just so happened to help the turnover issue.
3) I’ve probably gone too long without asking about sophomore Swiss Army Knife Kevin Huerter. What have his skills provided for the Terripans so far this year?
Kevin Huerter’s biggest asset is his three-point shooting, but his best weapon is his confidence. He’s grown as a scorer this season, and as injuries have dictated, he’ll probably keep getting better in conference play. He’s improved as a cutter and a defender and truly is a Swiss Army knife on both ends. When he’s at his best, it’s hard to stop him.
4) Maryland seems to use a glut of big men to affect overall field goal percentage without fouling. What can we expect to see from them defensively?
Fernando has a motor on him. He’s the team’s leading shot-blocker for a reason. Cekovsky is also an adequate defender, but if he gets too far away from the basket he’s not quick enough to recover. The biggest thing for the two of them will be staying out of foul trouble because the bench is thin after those two. Sean Obi and Joshua Tomaic are the only other bigs left in reserve and neither are game-changers. Tomaic redshirted last year and still gets caught out of position. Obi is a stellar rebounder and willing passer, but injuries have slowed him.
5) Finally, who ya got?
Despite getting absolutely shellacked by Michigan State, I still think Maryland keeps the Hawkeyes winless in conference play.
Thanks Lamar. We hope your team loses by a million. You can pester him on the Twitter about the game (or talk about why a turtle, excuse me, terrapin, is a silly mascot for a sport where players move fast) if you’re feeling like it at @im_lamar or @testudotimes.