New Coach, Same Problems: Maryland���s Bad Shooting Leads To Third Straight Loss

Second-guessing can be poisonous — especially in college basketball.

While a coach needs to evaluate moves made on the recruiting trail, practice floor and game situations, one can’t do too much second-guessing if they want to stay sane or successful (many coaches would happily choose the latter).

But I wouldn’t have a problem if Maryland interim coach Danny Manning was rethinking his decision to leave the comfortable confines of ESPN (where studio and game analysts consistently go unbeaten) last spring to join the Maryland program. Less than eight months after joining Mark Turgeon’s staff, Manning succeeded his longtime friend and onetime teammate at Kansas in December when Turgeon and the school parted ways.



Since then, Manning has had to continue to get to know his fellow coaches and personnel while trying to get the most out of a team that’s played well enough to take second-half leads in six of their seven Big Ten games … only to start 1-6 in the conference.

While it finally appeared as if the Terrapins had made progress in their 94-87 double overtime win at Northwestern, the team blew an 11-point halftime lead against Rutgers in a 70-59 loss. On Tuesday, there was minimal suspense as Michigan turned an 11-9 first-half lead into a 39-19 cushion at the break en route to an 83-64 win over the Terps.

The team that entered the night holding opponents to 42% shooting (seventh best in the Big Ten before the game) allowed the Wolverines to hit 58% of their shots. And the player who had seen playing time and productivity increase the most since the coaching change (Hakim Hart was averaging 13 points over 34 minutes with Manning running the show after averaging 7 and 27 under Turgeon) scored just one point over 23 minutes in Ann Arbor.

How bad will things get this season for 9-9 Maryland? The Terps began the year in the Top 25 but will now be hard-pressed to finish in the top 10 of the Big Ten (for those into math, the conference has 14 schools). Manning is tinkering with the starting lineup, having started freshman Julian Reese for the first time in his career against Rutgers while Xavier Green and Ian Martinez notched their first starts of the season against Michigan.

“We’re at a point now where we’re going to push some buttons, do some things that are a little bit different and see what happens from there,” Manning said after the loss to the Wolverines. “Everyone needs to continue to push forward and pull their collective weight and do the things that we need them to do for our team to be successful.”

They’ll need to find the right buttons — and fast, as four of Maryland’s next seven opponents are currently in the Top 25 while two others received votes. The second game? At a Rutgers team that rallied to beat the Terps in College Park. It could get rather late early this winter in College Park.

This week’s starting five:

Up Top: After previously unbeaten Baylor lost twice last week, Gonzaga is the new No. 1 while Auburn is No. 2 despite having more first place votes this week. The Tigers have been on fire the last couple of weeks yet I kept them behind the Bulldogs because even midway through January, the Zags still have more wins against ranked teams. They’ve also blown out West Coast Conference foes BYU (once as high as No. 12 in the rankings) and Santa Clara (sneaky good with wins over Stanford and TCU). An impressive triumph over a Kentucky team that blew out Tennessee might move coach Bruce Pearl’s team into the top spot. Toughest omissions on this week’s ballot: Miami, Iowa and UConn.

Going Inside: D.C. was the home for two thrilling games on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, with George Washington (5-10, 1-2 Atlantic 10) edging George Mason (7-7, 0-1) 77-76 by finishing regulation on a 13-2 run where they held the Patriots to 1 of 4 shooting with four turnovers. Joe Bamisile’s layup with 3.4 seconds left completed the comeback and the guard also blocked a pair of shots during the rally. For GW, it’s their first league win, while Mason played its first game in almost three weeks due to COVID-19 concerns. It was a big victory for coach Jamion Christian’s team who goes on the road for three straight, while coach Kim English’s crew has plenty of positives to build upon as they play five of their next seven at EagleBank Arena. Across the city at the same time, Howard took Notre Dame to the wire in a 71-68 loss that was nip and tuck for 40 minutes. Steve Settle III poured in a career-high 25 points. But the Bison (6-8, 0-1 MEAC) have little time to bask in a near-upset of an ACC school because coach Kenny Blakeney’s team has four straight road games.

On the Perimeter: Towson and Loyola (MD) don’t compete in the same league but the two schools in the Baltimore area often have an eye on what the other is doing, and there’s definitely reason to do so this winter. The Tigers (13-5, 4-1 CAA) are percentage points behind UNC-Wilmington for the conference lead and host the Seahawks Saturday. Coach Tavaras Hardy’s team is doing it with defense, allowing a league-low 64.4 points per game while currently leading the CAA in rebounding margin. UT-Martin transfer Cameron Holden had made an immediate impact by leading the team in scoring and rebounding (the 6-foot-5 senior ranks third in the CAA with 9.1 boards per game). Meanwhile, the Greyhounds have won five in a row and are led by Cam Spencer who paces the Patriot League in scoring (19.1 points per game) and steals (2.1). Loyola last made the NCAA Tournament in 2012 (under then-coach Jimmy Patsos) while Towson last danced in 1991. Each school has a chance to make late-February/early-March interesting this year.

Who’s Open: Friday Maryland meets No. 17 Illinois in College Park. The Terps lost by 12 in Champaign earlier this month in a game where they rallied from 14 down in the first half to take a five-point second-half lead. The Illini is coming off of its first Big Ten loss of the season (an overtime defeat against No. 4 Purdue) and brings more than a desire to bounce back to Xfinity Center: center Kofi Cockburn averages 21 points and 12 rebounds per game while netting 23 with 18 against the Terrapins on Jan. 6. Having defended him already, how will the Terps approach Cockburn this time?

Last Shot: American (5-10, 1-2 Patriot League) saw four of its first six games after Christmas Day either get canceled, postponed, or rescheduled. But Sunday AU posted its first conference win of the season by beating Bucknell 63-55 as sophomore Colin Smalls scored 18 points (he had 26 over seven games as a freshman last winter). The Eagles dominated inside, scoring 36 of their points in the paint while outrebounding the Bison by twelve. Coach Mike Brennan’s team plays its next two on the road at Army and Loyola (MD), two teams with a combined 9-3 conference record, but it’s much easier to do so with that first league win under one’s belt.

Source : https://wtop.com/ncaa-basketball/2022/01/beltway-basketball-beat-maryland-manning-try-to-avoid-a-winter-of-discontent/

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