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 Virginia Tech on Tuesday.
Junior forward Evan Smotrycz came into Sunday’s game at Clemson in one of his worst shooting funks since coming to College Park from Michigan.
But after making just 10 of his last 41 shots, including three of 32 on 3-pointers, Smotrycz shot six of 11 overall, including four of seven on 3-pointers to finish with 19 points.
Turgeon had started junior Nick Faust in place of Smotrycz, not because of his shooting slump but because of his “body language” both a practice and in last Tuesday’s 57-55 loss to Syracuse.
“He just wanted to get my mind right. He talked to me after practice the other day and said my body language has been terrible,” Smotrycz said. “I tried to go out and just have fun today and stay positive.”
Faust picked up two quick fouls, and Smotrycz hit his first two shots after the Terps started the game missing five of their first six. A 3-pointer by Smotrycz with nine seconds left sent the game into a second overtime.
“Coach drew up a play for me and I was ready to shoot it,” said Smotrycz, who had watched a similar shot rim out in a recent loss at Virginia.
Turgeon said Monday that Smotrycz’s “body language was much better, that’s why he made that shot in overtime that sent it to double overtime. His attitude toward that shot was good.”
Smotrycz admits that he has struggled with the approach he takes from one game to the next.
After coming out loose against Clemson, Smotrycz said with a laugh, “I’ll probably try that again [Tuesday against Virginia Tech]. I’ve been kind searching for something these past couple of games.”
Smotrycz said that his recent slump has made him think about what he needs to do after the season is over.
“It put a lot of ideas into my head about how I’m going to improve this off-season,” he said. “Kind of get a post game and find ways to score when my shot is not falling so I have stuff to go to. But we still have a lot of season left and I’ll stay in the right mindset and hopefully shots will keep falling.”
AND SHOOTER'S REEL
While Smotrycz emerged from his shooting slump, sophomore forward Jake Layman’s recent shooting woes deepened. After going 1 of 6 against Syracuse, Layman had the worst shooting game of his Maryland career, missing 13 of the 14 shots he attempted against Clemson.
Among the shots Layman missed was a wide-open layup on a rebound follow of a miss by Dez Wells with the Terps leading 67-64 in the second overtime. Layman missed all seven shots he tried in the first half and his first nine shots of the game.
On Monday’s ACC coaches’ teleconference, Turgeon said that he isn’t concerned with Layman losing confidence as the season winds down.
“All the conversations we’ll have with him leading up to [Tuesday’s] game will be about staying aggressive, especially against their zone. Jake’s going to need to play and need to play well for us.”
Turgeon said that Layman showed some confidence by continuing to shoot against the Tigers.
“It wasn’t like we told Jake to quit shooting," Turgeon said. “We got mad at him when he wouldn’t shoot. We think he’s going to make his next shot, he’s got to think that way. He’s had a good year, he just had a bad day [against Clemson].”
Asked about Layman’s struggles after the game, Smotrycz said, “I’ve had plenty of nights like that, so I’m not the person to comment on that. Definitely not. He’ll be fine.”
Though Turgeon has been quick to pull younger players when they make mistakes – freshman center Damonte Dodd lasted less than a minute Sunday after making a quick turnover – he seems to be displaying a little more patience with freshman point guard Roddy Peters.
“Roddy continues to get better,” Turgeon said Monday. “He’s been really coachable, and that’s why he’s getting better. And he’s approaching the game a little bit differently, he’s thinking of it as a point guard and not a scorer, which is important for us.
“Defensively he’s gotten so much better. He’s not a liability out there. We’re confident when he’s in there. I think he played 11 minutes [Sunday]. I thought that was a good number, maybe a little bit more would help us.”
It might be that Turgeon has come to the realization that Peters might ultimately be his starting point guard, or at least share the position with incoming freshman Melo Trimble next season, with current starter Seth Allen moving over his natural position at shooting guard.
Turgeon played Peters at the point and Allen off the ball for stretches against Clemson on Sunday.
“I like him and Seth together. He gets Seth off the ball, just all depends on the situation,” Turgeon said. “It’s something that when Seth came back I thought we would do more, and it just hasn’t really worked out that way. There’s still a week left until the post-season so we’ll see how it goes as we move on from here.”