Welcome to a second season of Morning Shootaround. We will follow the Terps throughout the 2013-14 season, but in this space this year, we will provide a look ahead, rather than 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 coach Mark Turgeon and his team are doing.
Here are a few things to look for as the Terps get ready to play No. 20 Pittsburgh at 6 p.m. Saturday at Comcast Center.
One of the few positives in Monday’s loss at North Carolina State came in the first half, when Turgeon went to a more traditional lineup that featured a power forward and center.
Though neither junior forward Jon Graham (Calvert Hall) or freshman center Damonte Dodd are thought of as scorers, both were Monday, combining for 10 points in 27 minutes.
They also each had four rebounds, with the 6-foot-10 Dodd adding a blocked shot. On top of that, sophomore forward Charles Mitchell collected a career-high 18 rebounds.
Given the size Pittsburgh presents with 6-9, 230-pound center Talib Zanna and 6-8, 245-pound Michael Young, look for the Terps to go with a big lineup at times Saturday.
“I did think our bigger lineup was better" against N.C. State, Turgeon said Friday. “I was encouraged with our rebounding and physicality with the big lineup. We can play both ways.”
It’s going to be interesting to see how much Dodd plays against the Panthers, after seeing just three minutes of what was essentially garbage time in the first meeting. He was scoreless and had one blocked shot.
Turgeon said he was “really impressed” with the way Dodd played against the Wolfpack.
“He gave us big minutes, played well,” Turgeon said. “He gives us length around the rim. He’ll play [Saturday] night. How much [depends on] how he handles it.
“But he gives us something we don’t have. He finished around the rim where none of big guys could finish around the rim, gives us a little of a [defensive] presence.”
While Turgeon is quick to point out that he has "a long way to go”, Dodd has impressed the coaches more with his defensive awareness than his offense.
“Defensively, his light’s really come a long way, understanding our principles and stuff,” Turgeon said. “When he’s out there being active, we’re much better defensively.”
How Dodd feels about his role isn’t clear. Maryland did not made make him available to comment Friday, despite interview requests from at least two news organizations.
POINT OF FRUSTRATION
Turgeon said in an interview Thursday, and repeated Friday, how displeased he was with the performance of his two point guards against the Wolfpack.
The third-year coach was so upset with both sophomore Seth Allen and freshman Roddy Peters that he benched both toward the end of the game, going with junior guard Dez Wells instead.
It marked the second time in as many games that Peters has been benched.
Asked about decreased playing time over the past two games for Peters, who played 10 minutes against N.C. State after just eight against Notre Dame, Turgeon said a combination of the Fighting Irish's zone and Peters' not listening led to his benching.
“Notre Dame game, they zoned us a lot. It was more about that,” Turgeon said. “The last game, it was just that he wasn’t doing what I was asking. That’s why him and Seth were both sitting out, because I didn’t have a point guard doing what I was [asking]. … Guys got to do what I ask. That’s about as blunt as I can be with that.”
Still, Turgeon said: “I’ve got a lot of confidence in Roddy. He’s had a great freshman year, much better than I was expecting. We need him, we need him to play well.”
Allen, meanwhile, has slowed down since since scoring in double figures in three of his first four games after returning from a broken foot, including a season-high 18 points at Pittsburgh.
In the three games since, Allen has been inconsistent, scoring just one point and shooting 0-for-8 in a 24-point defeat at Florida State, putting up 14 in the home win over Notre Dame and getting eight points on 3-for-12 shooting at N.C. State.
Turgeon is not blaming Allen’s performance on the fact that his explosiveness has not fully returned, or on the fact that Allen “is a little overweight,” according to the coach.
“The worst part is that he’s not guarding at the other end,” Turgeon said. “He’s guarded one game since he’s been back. He did a great job on [Notre Dame’s Eric] Atkins. He’s got to guard for us, he’s got to run our team.”
Turgeon said he also shares in the blame.
“Seth needs me to be on him every day, and there were 10 weeks when I wasn’t on him — eight when he was hurt and two that I felt sorry for him when he came back,” Turgeon said. “He needs me to be on him every day, so we have some catching up to do.”
FOLLOW THE LEADER
Wells said Friday that he hasn’t done a good enough job leading the Terps recently, particularly in Monday’s loss at N.C. State.
“We have to be better in the second half. That’s on me,” Wells said. “That’s not on Coach.”
Asked what he is not doing to provide leadership, Wells said: “I’m doing a lot of talking. It’s getting somewhere, but not where I want it to be. I have to do more leading by example.
“That’s something that can be fixed and that’s something I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about and talking to to a lot of guys about. I think it will be a lot better coming up.”
Wells talked about the team going to see the movie “Lone Survivor” after returning from Raleigh. In the film, Mark Wahlberg portrays Marcus Luttrell, the only member of a SEAL team not killed in a 2005 firefight in Afghanistan that claimed the lives of 19 American soldiers.
“It just shows you the importance of teamwork, and if you work together, if you’re on the same page and you make a decision and stick with it, it’s nothing you can’t get through,” Wells said of the movie.
“You’ve got to sacrifice things for the betterment of everybody, because if everyone goes after individual goals and not team goals, you won’t achieve anything. We want to have a legacy and raise a banner here.”