- Alex Len is not ready for the NBA. The big 7-footer from the Ukraine is being followed by numerous NBA scouts at every stop and I’m not seeing what they are. Alex needs at least another year of seasoning in the college ranks because he lacks a go-to move TOWARDS the basket in the low post. Both Tech and UVA collapsed on him and he showed the tendency to put the ball on the floor and move away from the basket for either an off balance jump hook, a turnaround fade-away jumper, or a fumbling turnover. Alex does have decent court presence and can find an open teammate on occasion but he badly needs to develop a power move. Right now, he’d get eaten alive in the NBA.
- The lack of a playmaking guard is a huge liability. Both Tech and the Cavaliers overplayed the Terps guards while fighting through the high screens Maryland was setting on offense. More often than not, this overplay forced the Terps into untimely turnovers. It ended up working out at Tech since Maryland hit more than their share of 3-pointers, but against UVA, Seth Allen and Nick Faust struggled against the double teams and on the few occasions that they got the ball inside, the Terps big men couldn’t convert. Maryland will need one of these two guards to develop more elusive ball handling skills and to deliver better entry passes to the low post because you simply have to make a team pay for leaving men open on the double team. Ultimately it feels like Faust could take the job because he’s a little more aggressive going to the bucket and the Terps need to push the ball much more in transition. Right now they are too tentative and willing to go into their half court sets.
Free throw shooting has been a glaring weakness all year and was particularly painful in these last two games but I’m less worried about that. Free throws are just a matter of establishing a consistent pre-shot routine, practicing the technique, and repeating in game conditions. Improvement will come with more big game experience because it takes dedication to improve on something as unglamorous as free throw shooting and I believe coach Turgeon is committed to improvement.
So for now, it’s clear how other teams are going to defend the Terps. They will take away Len down low and force the Terps guards to beat them. Maryland will continue to rely on good defense and power rebounding to hang close in these grind it out slug fests. It will be tough but I believe they still have enough in the tank to make the NCAA Tournament. Go Terps!