After a 2-0 start to the ACC basketball season, the Maryland Terrapins were thumped by the Pittsburgh Panthers on Monday night. The 79-59 defeat was deflating for a Maryland squad that was looking to make a statement on the road against a quality opponent. The only statement made was that the Terps are still not on the level of the better teams in the league.
Maryland is really behind the pack away from the Comcast Center. Since Mark Turgeon took over as head coach, the Terps are 4-15 in ACC road games.
On Sunday, the Terps will travel to Tallahassee to face the Florida State Seminoles. I’m not going to say it’s a must win game for Turgeon’s crew but, it would really be a confidence booster to secure a victory. It would also be a nice way to start building up Maryland’s NCAA Tournament resume.
The Seminoles will not be pushovers. After Thursday night’s 56-41 win at Clemson, coach Leonard Hamilton has his team at 10-4 with VCU–ranked 10th at the time–and #22 UMass counted among their victims. Since the game is on their home floor, they will be even tougher.
The Terps struggle on the road, it seems, because they can’t sustain their intensity for 40 minutes. They will hang for a while, then the roof caves in on them. This past Monday at Pitt, Maryland actually led late in the first half. The Panthers closed out the half on an 11-2 run to turn things around in their favor.
Maryland needs to get tougher on defense and not permit the types of spurts that can be demoralizing. They also need Jake Layman to pick up the pace against top competition. In road games against Ohio State and Pitt, Layman is a combined 2-16 shooting with five points scored.
I still believe that the Terrapins are one of the 68 best college basketball teams in the United States. As we head into mid-January, it’s time they started playing to their potential.
Then again, maybe they already are.