In a college basketball season that has been littered with upsets throughout the first week, we almost had our biggest one Friday night. But No. 3 Maryland eventually turned up the pressure and intensity and defeated Rider 65-58.
But boy, was this one ugly for the Terps early. They sleep-walked through the first 25 minutes of the game, as Rider pushed out to a 14-point lead at the 16-minute timeout in the second half. But just as things started to look a little bit dire for Mark Turgeon’s group, two factors pushed them to victory.
The first one was a defensive scheme change from Turgeon, who switched the team from its typical man-to-man to a high 1-3-1 zone with Jake Layman at the top to pressure ball-handlers with length. The result there was six turnovers in the next 10 minutes and only three made field goals in the next 14 minutes. The intensity and pressure caused legitimate problems for the Broncs, and they couldn’t do enough to get the win.
The second was an emergence from freshman Diamond Stone, the 6-foot-11 freshman center who is expected to be a one-and-done in Maryland this season. After only playing six minutes in the first half, scoring two points and grabbing one rebound, Stone came up huge in the second half and ended up with 12 points, five rebounds and two blocks. His energy gave the team the burst it needed on the offensive end of the floor, and his size inside took up space on the defensive end when Maryland was stretched out in its 1-3-1.
Diamond Stone in the right place at the right time for the @umterps, following up the miss with the jam. https://t.co/29ajWZcRc5
— Maryland on BTN (@MarylandOnBTN) November 21, 2015
The way Maryland came back in this one was great, but overall this game has to leave you with a few questions about where the Terps are at the moment. And honestly, that’s to be expected at this point. You have to remember, despite Maryland being ranked third in the country, the Terps are integrating an awful lot of new pieces to the fold. Stone is still young. Carter is getting back into games after only being able to practice with the team last season. Sulaimon is not the easiest fit due to his ball-heavy style of play on the offensive end.
As Tuesday’s scare vs. Georgetown also showed, it’s going to take some time for this team to get fully up to speed. Because of that, you might see some early scares and even some losses to experienced teams. But remember that as that’s happening, the ceiling for this team is still about as high as anyone else’s in the country. If they’re having these problems when February rolls around, then that’s a different story. Right now though, it’s worth being patient until they grow through learning to play together as a team.