From a major lineup change to a dire need for a reset, here are three takeaways from the Maryland men’s basketball team’s 83-64 loss to Michigan on Tuesday night at the Crisler Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Fatts Russell and Hakim Hart left out of starting lineup
Maryland has entered desperation mode, and it was evident against the Wolverines. Interim coach Danny Manning went with a platoon swap in the starting five, leaving out junior guard Hakim Hart, graduate transfer guard Fatts Russell and freshman forward Julian Reese (St. Frances) and replacing them with sophomore guard Ian Martinez, graduate transfer guard Xavier Green and junior forward Qudus Wahab.
Manning said after the game that he left Russell and Hart out of the starting five as a way to “challenge them.” Manning said he and the coaching staff are at the point where they are going to “push some buttons” and do things a bit differently.
“Everyone needs to continue to push forward and pull their collective weight and do the things that we need them to do for our team to be successful,” the coach said.
The Terps have used different lineup combinations over the past two games after rolling with the same starting five (Russell, senior guard Eric Ayala, Hart, junior foward Donta Scott and Wahab) for 16 straight games. In a 70-59 loss to Rutgers on Saturday, Reese replaced Wahab in the starting lineup. On Tuesday night, Maryland went with a three-man swap.
“That’s where it’s at right now,” Manning said. “Different look, different lineup, different guys go in. Maybe this person could bring us some energy.”
The lineup didn’t last too long against Michigan, as Russell, Hart and Reese checked in around the 16-minute mark of the first half and played 26, 23 and 22 minutes, respectively.
Julian Reese showcases his shooting ability
There is still some beauty behind the madness. Reese had his most efficient game as a college player off the bench with 10 points on 4-for-4 shooting from the field — including two 3-pointers — to go with five rebounds. He entered the game just 2-for-12 (16.6%) from the 3-point line.
Reese has shown plenty of potential this season. Even though he is averaging 6.4 points and 4.8 rebounds per game, he’s still young and lean. If he can continue to develop his jumper and knock down 3-pointers and mid-range shots consistently, his future is bright.
It’s time for a reset
The Terps are in a downward spiral, having lost five of their past six games. They’re running out of answers at 9-9 overall and 1-6 in conference play. As they prepare for a home matchup Friday night against No. 17 Illinois, it’s clear that this team needs a reset. Maryland entered the season with high expectations and a Top 25 ranking in the Associated Press poll after landing Russell and Wahab in the transfer portal, but nobody has lived up to expectations.
The Terps have only proven that while they look good on paper, they don’t fit on the court. Their deep bench rotation has not answered the bell, leaving much of the scoring load to Ayala and Scott, and Maryland hasn’t fared much better on the defensive end.
Maryland has struggled to contain the top players in the Big Ten, and it showed Tuesday, as Wolverines sophomore big man Hunter Dickinson had 21 points, six rebounds and six assists. Iowa’s Keegan Murray scored 35 points and made 14 of 21 shots in an 80-75 win over the Terps on Jan. 4, and Illinois’ Kofi Cockburn dropped 23 points on 9-for-12 shooting in a 76-64 victory two days later. Northwestern’s Pete Nance lit up the Terps as well, grabbing 14 rebounds while scoring 28 points and making 10 of his 19 shots.
The Terps’ inconsistency has been their biggest downfall, however. When they string together a good 20 minutes, they seem to falter in the next 20 minutes. Even though Ayala has been scoring at a high level since the victory over Florida at the Barclays Center, he can only do so much to lift an offense that is averaging 70.5 points per game, 11th best in the conference. Their .427 field-goal percentage and .314 3-point shooting percentage are both the second worst in the league.
This season has shown that the program needs a coach who can usher in a new culture and bring back some excitement to the fan base. For now, the Terps will have to ride out this grueling season that might only get worse as they get deeper into conference play.
NO. 17 ILLINOIS@MARYLAND
Friday, 7 p.m.
TV: FS1 Radio: 105.7 FM