Welcome to a second season of Morning Shootaround. We will follow the Terps throughout the 2013-14 season, but this year in this space we will provide a look ahead rather than looking back. We will try to analyze Maryland's strengths and weaknesses, as well as those of its upcoming opponent. We also hope to provide quotes and anecdotes from practices to give some idea of what Mark Turgeon and his team are doing.
Here are a few things to look for as the Terps get ready to play Wake Forest Tuesday night.
- Wake's Devin Thomas is more than just Alyssa's little brother
- Turgeon: Terps 'dialed in' at practice after loss to Duke
- Maryland Terps coverage
- Analyzing Maryland's 2013-14 men's basketball season player by player
- 2013-14 Terps basketball [Pictures]
- Maryland-Duke memories
See more photos »
- Maryland Madness sights & sounds [Video]
- Video: Williams retires as Maryland basketball head coach
There have been a number of games this season when it seemed freshman center Damonte Dodd has taken a step toward becoming part of Mark Turgeon's rotation.
It happened at Ohio State in December, when Dodd grabbed a career-high five rebounds (including three on the offensive boards) in eight minutes in a 16-point loss to the No. 5 Buckeyes in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.
It happened again last month at North Carolina State, when Dodd made all three of his shots and pulled down four rebounds in the first half of what turned out to be a 14-minute stint. But it was lost in a disappointing nine-point defeat after the Terps blew an 11-point second half lead.
When it happened Saturday at Duke, even Turgeon said he was “pleasantly surprised.” After not playing the previous three games, Dodd’s defensive presence helped the Terps erase a nine-point deficit to the No. 8 Blue Devils.
Though Dodd’s numbers in what eventually became an excruciating 69-67 loss weren’t that impressive – he was credited with just one rebound in seven minutes– he gave the Terps a 6-10, 240-pound center who altered shots and gave his teammates confidence to take chances.
“Knowing that we have a shot blocker back there takes a little pressure off us outside, if we do get beat, he’ll be there to block a shot,” sophomore forward Jake Layman said after practice Monday in College Park.
In that way, Dodd’s presence was as close to simulating what the Terps had last season with 7-1 Alex Len as the last line of defense and what they could have in future years with Dodd’s development and the arrival next season of 7-1 ½ Trayvon Reed.
“Damonte has a very similar frame to Alex, he’s a great shot blocker and a very similar presence to Alex,” Layman said.
Unlike recent games, when Turgeon either hedged on whether Dodd would play or at least once said there were no plans to use him, the third-year coach was quick to respond to the question Monday about Dodd’s role going forward.
“Damonte gave us a lot of confidence, especially on the defensive end, he wasn’t caught up in the moment all,” Turgeon said on the ACC coaches’ teleconference.
“He was in the right place almost every defensively. I was proud of him. We need his presence in there. He’s going get his chance Tuesday night, hopefully he’ll play well with it and it will continue.”
Dodd said that his own confidence grew as a result of how he played at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
“After the game, I was like, ‘Man if I can do that in a big game like that going on, I can be calm and do what I’m supposed to do,” he said. “It was a big confidence booster.”
In Dodd’s case, his lack of nerves might have ignorance being bliss.
“I don’t know if he really realized what the moment was,” Turgeon said.
Asked what it was like to play at Duke, Dodd said after practice Monday, “It was a fun experience. I was a little nervous when I got in, but other than that, it was fun just being around the crowd and the atmosphere and playing with my teammates in a big game.”
Told that he didn’t seem nervous, Dodd said, “He [Turgeon] called my name, just got in and they did what they taught me, which is to produce and help.”