Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Terps fade in loss

I have girded myself for many news stories about a "feisty" or "scrappy" performance in a losing effort for the basketball team. It would be easy to trot out those cliches after the Terps loss to a mediocre Illinois squad last night. Certainly the effort was good for most of the game which you would expect for a primetime game on ESPN (one of only three Maryland games on the prime ESPN channel currently scheduled this season). It had been four days since their last game and the tempo was a fairly pedestrian 61.0 so fatigue should not have been much of an excuse like it may have been in the Iona debacle. Maryland's free throw percentage was actually better in the 2nd half (70%) then it was in the 1st half (53.3%) which would not support the fatigue excuse either. Still there is something off with this team and their 2nd half play. In only notching 27 points the Terps have now scored less than 30 points in the second half of three out of six games. Not surprising that accounts for all three of their losses this year. Managing the stamina of the roster will be a challenge all season for Mark Turgeon but it didn't play much of a role in this loss. To the contrary Turgeon's substitutions may have contributed to Illinois pulling away for the win. With about 17 minutes left in the game Turgeon put Sean Mosley (who had an awful game) and Terrell Stoglin on the bench and put out a squad of Nick Faust, Mychal Parker, Ashton Pankey and two walk-ons. Not surprisingly by the time he put Mosley and Stoglin back in three minutes later Illinois had gained a lead they would not relinquish. I'm not sure what his thought process was with that lineup but it was a blunder by Turgeon that contributed to Maryland losing the game. Turgeon has had some pointed and public criticisms of his players the last few weeks and given his instinct for brutal truth he also deserves the spotlight to be put on some of his failures as well. Given that he is from the Roy Williams coaching school I doubt we'll see much of that from him. I thought his decision not to test the Illinois backcourt with some press late in the game was a mistake as well. They only did it once and it forced the Illini into an immediate timeout. Inexplicably Turgeon never tried it again until the game was already over. With his system you had better be damn good in the half court because they won't cause turnovers and therefore won't get any easy points as a result.

There has been some debate about Terrell Stoglin being a "ball hog" or something to that effect. He did take an amazing 42.5% of the shots when he was in the game, Faust being second with 28.3%, but he was very efficient at 114.0 points per 100 possessions. Given that heavy usage his turnover % was an excellent 15.7 and his effective field goal percentage of 58.8% was very good as well. About the only thing he did poorly was shoot free throws. It is obvious he isn't much of a defensive player so I won't fault him for not getting back on defense like Turgeon did in his beginning to be habitual post game player flogging.

Stoglin has to get more help from his backcourt teammates. Mosley had an awful game scoring only five points and turning the ball over at a 40% rate on his possessions. Turgeon is loath to criticize Mosley, as was Gary Williams, because he is a good kid and a hard worker. This game demonstrated that with Mosley you get great hustle plays mixed in with boneheaded plays that no senior should make. The hope that he will be a scoring factor for Maryland went out the window last season. He doesn't have the skills or mental makeup to be a scorer at the collegiate level. What should be expected is not to foul a three point shooter in the act, not commit dumb offensive fouls or turn the ball over at critical moments late in the game. Mosley did all three. Nick Faust struggled even worse than Mosley but he is a freshman who is playing out of position. It is painfully obvious that Faust has no ability to be a serviceable point guard. Until Pe'Shon Howard returns from injury Maryland will have to muddle through with what they have and Faust will have to try to take better shots and start making some free throws. His shooting percentages are all shockingly bad no matter from where on the floor. He is often too careless with possessions and has done little to get the ball to places on the court that will open up the offense.

James Padgett had a career night scoring with 16 points but his rebounding and defense need to improve, how he failed to grab one defensive rebound in 28 minutes is beyond me. Ashton Pankey also had a dreadful night rebounding. He let Illinois get TWO offensive rebounds off a missed free throw and failed to secure an easy rebound off a miss by Illinois with just 53 seconds remaining clinging to a 5 point lead. It is little wonder he is in Turgeon's dog house. He can be an excellent rebounder when his head is in the game but too often he pouts and has mental lapses.

The game against Notre Dame this weekend in the BB&T will be a directional game for the Terps. It is a game they have an excellent chance of winning given the Irish's poor play this season and loss of preseason All-Big East forward Tim Abromaitis. For scoring Notre Dame relies heavily on three point shooting and getting to the foul line. Defensively they are soft so and lack a significant inside presence so Maryland should be able to score. It will be a good test to see if this group can post a respectable ACC season or if they are going to struggle. If Maryland cannot beat Notre Dame on a neutral court I think they will struggle with middle of the pack ACC squads like Virginia Tech, Clemson, Miami and N.C. State.


itchy said...

1. To be fair regarding Turgeon's substitution early in the second half, (a) Illinois could have made that run anyway or (b) he probably would have had to rest Stoglin at some point, anyway, and THEN Illinois might have made the same run.

2. How do you calculate turnover percentage? Surely you're not saying that 40% of the time Faust touched the ball, he turned it over?!?

3. Agree on the rest. I wouldn't like watching Stoglin try to do so much if there were others capable of scoring, but Faust has been horrible, and Mosley and Parker have been unreliable. Hopefully, this will be a different team with Pe'Shon and Len.

Esquire said...

It is certainly possible that Illinois would have made a run either way but there is no way to know. I think taking Stoglin and Mosley off the floor at the same time was a little ill advised. Having Mychal Parker (who has been god awful), a walk-on and a converted freshman point guard as your backcourt seems reckless at best. I don't know what that trio does well. I thought Turgeon did a decent job after that but to me that was the deciding stretch of the 2nd half and therefore the game. Another example would be that Turgeon took out Stoglin right before the under 8 minute media timeout. Why not just wait a minute and he will get a decent rest during the media timeout? I don't see how the extra 20 seconds Turgeon saved Stoglin are going to help at all.

In regards to Mosley his 40% TO rate was due to the fact that he only "used" five possessions. Two of those were TO's. I get my data from and their definition of a possession is: POS =
FGAs - ORs + TOs + (0.475 x FTA)

That is a pretty common formula. For the season Mosley's TO% is 24.5 (a career high) and for a guy who doesn't handle the ball as much as others that is bad. I give Faust a little break since he is a frosh playing out of position. Mosley has been around forever and has started more games than the rest of the squad put together (my guess anyway) so I don't cut him the same slack.

Stoglin is going to play ugly from time to time and he'll have worse games once conference play starts but he is also the only player on the squad that could go for 30 points on any given night as well. Given his scoring burden I think he has played rather well this season. His shooting numbers are pretty close to Vasquez's sophomore year. Stoglin's rebounding and assist numbers are not close obviously but he isn't turning the ball over as much and doesn't have James Gist and Boom Osby on his team either.