Skip to content

For Maryland, being lucky is better than being good if it’s only for one night

Jan 16, 2013, 9:02 PM EDT

Alex Len Maryland AP

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Alex Len finished with 10 points and six boards, tipping in an errant Pe’Shon Howard shot with just 0.9 seconds left on the clock as the Terps knocked off No. 14 NC State at the Comcast Center, 51-50.

Maryland had twice taken a ten point lead — the second of which came midway through the second half at 42-32. But the Wolfpack came storming back, using a 16-3 run to take a 48-45 lead on a Scott Wood three. After a pair of free throws and a bucket from Len, Lorenzo Brown, who finished with a game-high 17 points, hit a pull-up jumper to give the Wolfpack a 50-49 lead, setting up Maryland’s final possession.

That possession worked out swimmingly. With 5.2 seconds left on the clock, Howard took the inbounds and drove left, throwing up a runner — “He said it wasn’t a miss, it was a pass,” Led said with a chuckle after the game — that happened to fall right into the hands of the future lottery pick.

Said Turgeon, “We were pretty lucky at the end.”

The play looked eerily reminiscent of the play that won NC State and Jim Valvano the 1983 national title against Houston’s Phi Slama Jama team, and Seth Allen drew a chuckle from reporters after the game when asked if he had every seen Lorenzo Charles’ title-winning, buzzer-beating putback. “I’m too young,” he said, “I just turned 18.”

The irony would be too much — NC State losing on the same kind of play that won them their only national title! — if it wasn’t a sign of a bigger issue for Maryland. The play that Howard ran wasn’t at all what Mark Turgeon drew up in the huddle. According to Len, Turgeon wanted the ball going to Logan Aronhalt. According to Turgeon, however, the play was “supposed to be an up-screen for Alex. We down-screened.” According to the tape, the play was for Howard to drive baseline, throw up a pair that happens to fall into Len’s hands and for Terp fans to storm the floor.

I’m not sure anyone knows what was supposed to happen.

Lucky, indeed.

The reason this is a concern is that Maryland has struggled in close games this season, and a big reason for that is shoddy late-game execution. They had a chance to knock off Kentucky in their season-opener but couldn’t get a shot off on the game’s final possession when they were down by three. In a three-point loss to Florida State, Allen had a three blocked on the final possession of the game. On Sunday, in a 54-47 loss at Miami, the Terps couldn’t execute offensively for 40 minutes, let alone down the stretch.

“Kentucky, we needed a three but we didn’t pass it,” Turgeon said. “Florida State, we didn’t drive it. We settled for a jump shot.”

Which brings us back to Wednesday night, where the Terps escaped despite the fact that, once again, they couldn’t run the play that Turgeon drew up in the huddle.

“We were 0-for-timeouts,” Turgeon said. “There wasn’t one timeout where they did what I wanted them to. Not one. It’s frustrating. We practiced timeouts two days ago. Lined up, practiced it. It’s where we are right now. It’s not a lot of fun. You’re sitting there and Pe’Shon’s looking at me, dribbling the ball at half court like, ‘What?’ after we drew up the play in the timeout. It’s frustrating.”

Timeouts aren’t the only time where the Terps struggle to execute offensively.

“Eventually, when I have a program long enough, we’re going to execute a lot better than we did,” Turgeon continued. “I can’t add enough stuff because they cant’t consume it all right now. We’re really limited with some of the stuff we can do.”

“They can do it in practice, but as soon as the lights are on, they don’t know.”

That’s a problem, and one that goes well beyond their struggles getting to get Len the ball in a position to score on Wednesday or Howard’s inability to make a shot since the calendar turned.

Len is going to make a lot of money in the NBA, and it’s likely going to be sooner rather than later; he’s a lottery pick. But outside of the Big Ukranian, the Terps don’t really have all that much scoring punch. They do, however, have a bunch of grinders — guys like Dez Wells, and Shaquille Cleare, and Charles Mitchell. It’s quite reminiscent of the teams that Turgeon put together at Texas A&M, where he built a program known for defense and offensive execution. They didn’t put up huge numbers or ride a wave of one-and-doners to NCAA tournament glory.

It was workmanlike. It was blue-collar. It worked.

And until the Terps reach a point where they can thrive on their offensive execution instead of headlong, 1-on-1 drives at the rim and hoisting up first-pass threes, they are going to continue to underperform. And rest assured, right now, this group is underperforming.

Having said that, at the end of the day, Maryland got a win. They knocked off the No. 14 team in the country. The beat the Wolfpack four days after the Wolfpack beat Duke. They got a win that is going to look good on their tournament resume and give them hope and confidence heading into one of the most difficult stretches on their schedule. Three of their next four games are on the road: at North Carolina, at Duke and at Florida State.

They can be excited about this win, but there is still a lot of season to be played and even more work to be done to get better.

“It’s just one game,” Turgeon said. We’re going to celebrate,  I was happy for the guys and the sutdents, storming the court and all.”

“[But] we just talked about how we haven’t won a big game since Grieivis Vasquez was here. I didn’t come here to be mediocre. The players didn’t come here to be mediocre. I asked them why they came here. I told them I came here to be a part of something much bigger than myself.”

“I came here to do great things. This is one great thing. Hopefully, this will lead us to other great things.”

You just can’t rely on luck to make that happen.

Latest Posts
  1. Three-star 2015 forward cuts list to seven

    Sep 20, 2014, 11:29 PM EDT

    Area Codes Basketball Area Codes Basketball

    Three Mountain West programs and one Big Ten program among the schools on the Las Vegas native’s list.

  2. Western Kentucky junior guard Ayinde Sprewell’s highlight reel (VIDEO)

    Sep 20, 2014, 10:00 PM EDT

    Ray Harper Ray Harper

    The nephew of Latrell Sprewell will play his first season at WKU.

  3. Recruiting heavyweight jumps into mix for five-star 2015 point guard

    Sep 20, 2014, 7:50 PM EDT

    ISAIAH BRISCOE,BRUNO SANSIMONI ISAIAH BRISCOE,BRUNO SANSIMONI

    The elite PG from New Jersey had his first in-person meeting with Kentucky head coach John Calipari on Thursday.

  4. In-state point guard becomes West Virginia’s second 2016 commitment

    Sep 20, 2014, 6:18 PM EDT

    Bob Huggins AP

    The South Charleston HS floor general was one of the state’s best players last season, and he could prep for a year before joining the WVU program.

  5. High-scoring guard verbally commits to Stephen F. Austin

    Sep 20, 2014, 5:03 PM EDT

    Brad Underwood Brad Underwood

    The son of a former national champion has made a name for himself by scoring 28 points per game as a junior.

  6. Mount St. Mary’s gives extension to head coach Jamion Christian

    Sep 20, 2014, 3:35 PM EDT

    jamion christian Getty Images

    Mount St. Mary’s rewarded head coach Jamion Christian with an extension.

  7. Gonzaga releases a loaded non-conference schedule

    Sep 20, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT

    Wichita State v Gonzaga Getty Images

    Gonzaga has one of its deepest teams of all time and the Bulldogs are challenging themselves with a difficult non-conference schedule.

  8. Bradley forward Auston Barnes charged with domestic battery following August arrest

    Sep 20, 2014, 12:45 PM EDT

    Peoria County Sheriff's Office Peoria County Sheriff's Office

    Bradley forward Auston Barnes has been charged with misdemeanor domestic battery following an August arrest.

  9. Pittsburgh 2016 commit Maverick Rowan re-opens his recruitment

    Sep 20, 2014, 11:30 AM EDT

    adidas adidas

    Pitt and head coach Jamie Dixon no longer hold a commitment from a former 2016 recruit.

  10. Three-star center has four official visits set

    Sep 20, 2014, 10:15 AM EDT

    Under Armour Under Armour

    A three-star forward has four schools that are heavily involved.

  11. Mixtape of elite 2015 shooter Matt McQuaid (VIDEO)

    Sep 20, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT

    Nike Nike

    Matt McQuaid can really light it up from the perimeter.

  12. Summer highlights for five-star center Stephen Zimmerman (VIDEO)

    Sep 19, 2014, 11:50 PM EDT

    Nike EYBL Nike EYBL

    Stephen Zimmerman is ranked the No. 10 overall recruit by Rivals.

  13. Record number of tents camped out for Kentucky’s Big Blue Madness (VIDEO)

    Sep 19, 2014, 11:00 PM EDT

    Via @_Shanabon Via @_Shanabon

    Kentucky fans camped out on Monday in order to officially camp out for tickets on Wednesday morning.

  14. Rhode Island big man returns to the floor for 2014-2015 season

    Sep 19, 2014, 9:45 PM EDT

    Rhode Island v Butler Getty Images

    The Rhode Island forward is eligible after missing the 2013-2014 season.

  15. Maryland transfer eligible this season at Georgia Tech

    Sep 19, 2014, 9:00 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    The 6-foot-8 forward has two years of eligibility remaining.

  16. Georgia Tech will hire former Marshall coach, promote another assistant

    Sep 19, 2014, 7:00 PM EDT

    Tom Herrion AP

    The Yellow Jackets have added two new assistant to the coaching staff this offseason.

  17. Syracuse won’t know Dajuan Coleman’s status until November

    Sep 19, 2014, 5:25 PM EDT

    Villanova v Syracuse Getty Images

    The Orange holds the first of two exhibition games on Nov. 2.

  18. South Carolina lands commitment from three-star power forward

    Sep 19, 2014, 4:08 PM EDT

    Scott Stuart/Rivals Scott Stuart/Rivals

    The Roselle Catholic (New Jersey) product picked the Gamecocks over Seton Hall and Rhode Island.

  19. Former Chattanooga assistant to join UAB coaching staff

    Sep 19, 2014, 2:46 PM EDT

    Chattanooga Athletics Chattanooga Athletics

    Interestingly enough, UAB visits Chattanooga December 22.