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 watch as the Terps get ready to play Virginia in Charlottesville on Monday.
ON THE REBOUND
Mark Turgeon knew that his team dodged a rather obvious bullet during Saturday's 83-71 win over Florida State.
The Seminoles turned their 20 offensive rebounds -- nearly twice their season's average -- into just 20 points, and Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton lamented the fact that his team missed numerous chances for easy points around the rim.
"Historically, my teams rebound well, and this team hasn't done it," said Turgeon, whose Terps are third in offensive rebounds per game (12.83), seventh in defensive rebounds (25.09) and sixth in rebounding margin (plus 4.6). "Our big guys are not very tall. That's no excuse. We need to rebound better than we have. Twenty offensive rebounds is too many no matter who you're playing."
Despite its size, including two 7-footers, Florida State is ranked near or at the bottom of the Atlantic Coast Conference in several rebounding categories. Conversely, a Virginia team that is not nearly as tall or athletic is ranked second in rebound margin (plus 6.7) and defensive rebounds (29.9).
It could negate one of Maryland's strengths, since the Terps rank behind only Syracuse and North Carolina in offensive rebounding in the conference. After getting double-digit offensive rebounds in 17 of their first 19 games, the Terps have averaged just six over the last five games.
After getting outrebounded, 19-12, overall in the first half, including 10-1 on the offensive boards, the Terps held their own with the Seminoles in the second half. Maryland was even with Florida State, 17-17, and down just 10-7 on the offensive boards after the break.
Asked about the difference in his team's recent rebounding compared to earlier in the season, Turgeon said on a conference call Sunday: "It's a combination. We're not rebounding as well, and I think we've played against some really good rebounding teams. And we're playing against another good one tomorrow night that's going to box out every time and be very disciplined."
SHORTENING THE ROTATION
Whether by design or necessity, the Terps have gone from going 10-deep earlier this season to an eight-man rotation. The team's two freshmen, point guard Roddy Peters and center Damonte Dodd, are apparently the odd men out for the time being.
Dodd, who had his most promising performance when he scored six points, pulled down four rebounds and blocked a shot in a season-high 14 minutes of a Jan. 20 loss at North Carolina State, didn't play for the second straight game Saturday.
Peters, who started eight straight games and averaged nearly 20 minutes per game through a Jan. 11 loss at Florida State, played a season-low three minutes Saturday against the Seminoles. He came in twice, once for less than a minute in the first half.
Turgeon made it clear after practice Friday that Dodd was not in the current rotation, and showed his obvious displeasure with Peters by pulling him so quickly despite the fact that Evan Smotrycz airballed a wide-open 3-point attempt on one possession and Charles Mitchell scored on the other.
"I think we had to do what we had to do [Saturday], hopefully we'll be a little deeper [Monday]," Turgeon said on the conference call. "Hopefully Roddy will be able to give us some good minutes and make us a little deeper.
"With [Mike] Tobey on the floor, would I be afraid to play Damonte? Maybe not. We have to be a deeper team [against Virginia] than we were Saturday. We got really tired at the end of the game, and it showed by the way we played. We need a little more depth to be successful."
Part of their lack of playing time against Florida State had to do with what those ahead of them were doing. Sophomore point guard Seth Allen scored a career-high 32 points in 35 minutes, and sophomore Shaquille Cleare and junior Jon Graham combined for 10 rebounds in 27 minutes.
"I think that's the most active Shaq's been," Turgeon said.
EVAN SMOTRYCZ'S DAY OFF
Smotrycz looked badly out of sorts against the Seminoles. He missed all four shots he tried -- two of them airballs on wide-open 3-point shots -- and the team's second-leading rebounder had just one rebound in 19 minutes.
It was the fewest minutes Smotrycz played since early in the season.
His four-point output -- on six free-throw attempts -- matched his second lowest total of the season. His one rebound matched his worst game on the boards. It was surprising, since Smotrycz had scored in double-figures in four of his five games while shooting 22 of 41 overall, including 10 of 18 on 3-pointers.
"I think he never got in the flow," Turgeon said Sunday. "He got into foul trouble, we were winning and I didn't put him back in, and then I put him in and he shot the two airballs, so I took him out. Sometimes you have days like that, you've just got to move on and hopefully he'll be ready tomorrow night. Good thing is we didn't need him."