North Carolina got off to an early lead in their win against Maryland on Saturday Jan.19. Reggie Bullock knocked down his shots making his first three 3-pointers, scoring 15 points in the opening 10 minutes.
In those same 10 minutes, Maryland turned the ball over 10 times. That is a staggering stat for head coach Mark Turgeon to absorb. On the game as a whole the Terps turned it over 22 times, compared to UNC’s 13. That nine-turnover difference caused a significant swing that is reflected in the final score.
Also aiding UNC in their victory was the lack of effectiveness from Maryland center Alex Len. Len was basically a non-factor for most of the 40-minute contest. His stat line looks mediocre, and he was quiet throughout the course of the game. Len made no visible effort on the boards, and was beat out by North Carolina’s offensive rebounders on multiple occasions. At times, he was just watching the Tar Heels fight on the boards while he stayed on his own heels.
To win games, Turgeon will need to put an emphasis on his post players boxing out, and Len making a conscious effort to go after the ball. With big-framed forwards Charles Mitchell and Shaquille Cleare, the Terrapins should be able to bully opposing forwards out of the paint. This would open up some space for Len to snag more rebounds at crucial moments.
Len appears to have trouble boxing out more active big men like James Michael McAdoo. Len locates his man and makes an effort to box them out, but on more than one occurrence McAdoo was able to just run around Len’s box-out attempt.
To sum it up, Len needs to fight every minute he’s on the court. He is the anchor, and X-factor, for coach Turgeon; he didn’t appear conscious of that fact against UNC.
On a bright note, Dez Wells took matters into his own hands and scored easily at the rim. He was efficient from the field going 8-for-11, and ended the game with 21 points. His 5 turnovers didn’t help, but he seems confident in his role and will need to continue to perform.
Next for Maryland is what should be an easy win against Boston College on Jan. 22. The real test for them will be following that game on Saturday Jan. 26 when they face Duke. There are 3 keys to Maryland’s success in that game: Len attacking the boards and being active on offense, Maryland protecting the ball with few turnovers, and their post players preventing Duke from offensive rebounds.