No. 7 Maryland’s defensive approach to Saturday’s road contest against No. 12 Colgate sounds like a simple task: pay a lot of attention to Peter Baum.
That’s easier said than done. The junior attackman leads Division I in points per game (5.7) and goals per game (3.9) and was named the Patriot League Offensive Player of the Year last week.
The Terps are still debating whether to assign sophomore Michael Ehrhardt or freshman Goran Murray to Baum, but Ehrhardt – who has shadowed Johns Hopkins senior atatckman Chris Boland and Navy sophomore attackman Tucker Hull this season – said Baum is unlike any other player the defense and defensive coordinator Kevin Warne has faced thus far.
“He can do everything,” Ehrhardt said. “We think he’s the best player in the country. He can shoot, dodge, he’s got both hands. We have a lot of respect for him. He’s a great player.”
Baum totaled 18 points on eight goals and 10 assists in two games in the Patriot League tournament. Although the Raiders fell to No. 11 Lehigh, 16-14, in the tournament final Sunday, Baum’s display caught the eye of Maryland coach John Tillman, who drove to Hamilton, N.Y., to scout Colgate.
“It’s hard [to neutralize Baum] because if you pay too much attention to him, other guys get opportunities,” Tillman said. “If you slide to him too quickly, he’ll make other guys better. If you don’t slide to him, he can shoot the ball really, really hard and create his own shot. I think that’s what people have struggled with all year. How do you defend him? If you look at that Patriot League tournament, he scored 18 points in two games against [Bucknell and Lehigh], but they know him. They know him as well as anybody, and they’re trying to stop him. They’ve already seen him once and they struggled to do so.”
Tillman said the Terps must communicate on defense to mark Baum. Slowing the Raiders’ transition game into a six-on-six affair is also an objective.
Still, Ehrhardt said he is eager to test himself against Baum.
“It’s going to be a great challenge,” he said. “They have the No. 2 offense in the country, and Coach Warne is putting together a great game plan. We’re going to have to follow through with it and play seven-on-six defense and use a lot of communication.”