Early in the season, non-conference games against weaker opponents give big time programs like Maryland a chance to find their identity and work on things that have been a weakness thus far in the season. Here are three things to watch for as Maryland takes on Morgan State at 6:00 p.m. at Comcast Center in College Park, MD.
Roddy Peters’ on ball defense
Peters is undoubtedly Maryland’s best option at the point guard position. His slick ability to get to the basket and score or dish to teammates for easy shots is something this offense lacks when Peters is not on the floor. However, the reason he has not started the last two games is because of his on-ball defense.
Peters has all the intangibles be a solid defensive player. He is long, has good lateral quickness, and has good hands, but right now he cannot keep players in front of him. That is a big reason why Mark Turgeon is not giving the freshman as many minutes as he should.
In my opinion, Peters just does not look motivated on the defensive end. He often has his hands by his side and is not locked in while guarding the ball. Peters must make a commitment on the defensive end if he wants to be the guy with the ball in his hands leading this team to a hopeful NCAA tournament berth.
Tonight would be a good time to start playing defense against the one-win Bears.
Can Maryland get off to a fast start?
It has been one of my biggest complaints about Mark Turgeon teams at Maryland thus far. His teams never seem to get off to a hot start and put away a team they should beat easily early in the game. This year alone they have let Abilene Christian, Marist, and Northern Iowa hang around longer than they should. When you do that, your team can often get tight and set yourself to be the top story on SportsCenter. Maryland won all three of those games this year, but look to see if the Terps come out and try to jump on Morgan State from the tip and put this one in the bag early. It sure would be nice to see.
Who starts for Maryland?
Mark Turgeon has made the starting lineup a mystery each and every night since he arrived at Maryland it seems like. He is a coach who likes to experiment with lineups more than most. Just this year he has already used three different starting lineups in six games.
The Terps won the Pradise Jam Tournament last week, and in the last two games, wins over Northern Iowa and Providence, the Terps used the same lineup. That lineup consisted of Dez Wells, Jake Layman, Evan Smotrycz, Nick Faust, and Shaquille Cleare.
I suspect Turgeon will ride the momentum of the lineup that brought home the championship at the Virgin Islands, but he has done crazier things so make sure to lookout for who is at the opening tip.
Maryland will most likely come away with the victory in this one, but watch for these three things as they will be a big part of Maryland’s success as the season goes on.