Being the kind and generous man that I am, I sat down and watched the Maryland vs Michigan State game today. The first thing I can report is that the first half of the game was ugly. I'm talking Roseanne Barr naked on your bed only covered by strategically placed smears of week old guacamole. My eyeballs started bleeding about halfway through the half, and by the time the half was mercifully murdered by the buzzer, my dogs were lapping my eyeball blood off the floor. The second half was a little more entertaining, but not much. The fact that Dickie V was doing the game made a miserable experience almost unendurable. My wife currently has the, we're not calling it the flu, but it might be the flu, and I was ready to trade places with her, but this is what I'm willing to do for you fine folks. I came away with the following information on Maryland.
Maryland's "offense" will make basketball purists cringe and grind their teeth. It's not really an "offense" in terms of basketball players moving the ball and moving themselves in order to find a good shot through teamwork. In essence, Maryland runs a continuous series of isolation plays for their guards and forwards. They either start the ball up top, spread the floor with 4 shooters and let their guards drive or they will clear out a side and let whoever has the ball go one on one and look for a weak side rebound. Seriously, that's about it. Whenever they tried to run anything more advanced than that they either turned the ball over or committed an offensive foul on a bad screen. So, how have they been so effective this year you may wonder? They get fouled, or at least the other team gets called for a foul, on the majority of their drives.
This stat comparison really shows what Maryland is all about:
Maryland Free Throws Attempted: 404
Maryland Free Throws Made: 299
Maryland Assists: 187
Purdue Free Throws Attempted: 377
Purdue Free Throws Made: 258
Purdue Assists: 254
Maryland has no post game other than the iso stuff they run with their 6'8 finesse forwards or their mid-sized combo guards. Their leading free throw shooter in terms of attempts and makes is freshman point guard Melo Trimble. Trimble has attempted 124 free throws and hit 109 free throws. Almost all of these fouls either happen in transition or in their spread the court isolation game. In comparison, Purdue's leading free throw shooter in terms of attempts is Isaac Haas with 80 attempts and only 42 makes. Haas is a power post player, who doesn't stray farther than 5 feet from the basket and is usually assaulted on every offensive possession.
Also, take a look at those assist numbers. Purdue passes the ball to score. Maryland dribbles the ball to score. It's going to be pick and roll and iso, iso, iso against the Terps.
Maryland's defense should look familiar, because it's essentially the same defense Purdue plays. They play straight up man to man and make the other team take contested shots. It's not fancy, but against Michigan State, it was extremely effective. The Terps forced the Spartan's to make shots with hands in their faces and Michigan St. couldn't do it on a consistent basis. They are vulnerable inside because they mainly play two 6'8 power forwards, and neither of them are really post players. Michigan St. had their most success when they were able to throw the ball into the post to Dawson (who looked terrible in his first game back from a broken wrist) and go from there.
One thing Maryland did well was transition from defense to offense quickly. The Terps are smallish but athletic and do a good job of going and getting the ball on the defensive glass and hitting the outlet man. Purdue has a tendency to over commit on offense glass and give up easy baskets in transition. This might be somewhat of a problem, and I foresee several 3 on 1 breaks if Purdue doesn't pay attention to the Terps leaking out in transition.
Maryland on offense:
Melo Trimble vs Jon Octeus
Jon Octeus is prone to foul trouble. Melo Trimble, as noted above, is excellent at getting to the line and scoring from the line. Octeus is going to have to do his work early and prevent Trimble from breaking him down at the top of the key, because Trimble is excellent at creating contact (read: jump into the defenders chest) at the rim. I saw a few plays where Trimble had no intention of actually trying to make a basketball play and instead just threw his body at the defender. Big 10 officials, being Big 10 officials, usually rewarded him for playing bad basketball, and Tom Izzo was on the verge going all Branden Dawson on the scores table a few times. Octeus does have the option of playing off Trimble and inviting him to take the 3 point shot. Trimble isn't a great 3 point shooter, but Trimble thinks he is a great 3 point shooter. I would rather have him chucking 3's (he has a few 1-8 performances this year and is 3-21 in the last 3 games) than driving to the basket. Advantage Trimble (only because Octeus will be in foul trouble)
Richaud Pack vs Kendall Stephens
This match up scares me. On Kendall's best day he isn't a great defender. If Kendall is still injured he is a human foul machine/traffic cone. Pack has attempted 51 free throws this year and has hit 39 for an efficient 76%. Expect Maryland to spread the floor, isolate Pack and let him work on Stephens' injured ankle. If Stephens doesn't reach out and grab Pack on the drive, Hammons and Haas will be exposed on the drive, giving Pack the option of dumping the ball off to the open man under the basket, or more likely, drawing the foul on one of our big men. Kendall's best bet would, again, be to play off and let Pack shoot. Pack has launched 43 3's and only hit 13. Stephens need to bait Pack into shooting and then use his freakishly long arms to bother the shot. That being said, I don't see this ending well for Kendall. Advantage - Pack
Dez Wells vs Rapheal Davis
Wells and Davis are physical clones. Wells is 6'5 215 and Davis is listed at 6'5 217. In the Michigan State game, Maryland liked to clear out a side and let Wells try and out muscle his defender and get the hole. I don't see them trying that against Davis. Well's is the kind of player that thrives on out toughing his match up, getting to the basket and scoring or drawing contact. Unlike Davis, Wells does have some semblance of a jump shot and while he doesn't shoot the 3 ball often, when he does it goes in at a 50% clip (9 for 18). I like this matchup for Purdue, and it is one of the places where we can really knock Maryland out of their game. Wells averages 14 points a game, but I don't see him reaching any more than half of his average with Davis harassing him all night. Advantage - Davis
Jake Layman vs Vince Edwards
I'll go ahead and call Layman a poor man's Robbie Hummel. He's a stretch 4 that handles the ball well and can finish at the basket. During the Michigan State game he made a few nice plays in the open court where he used his length to hold off a defender and finish at the rim. If a team plays off of Layman he is more than capable of hitting the 3 ball, making around 40% of his attempts on the year. Like Wells, Maryland uses Layman as one of their primary post weapons, clearing out a side and letting him work one on one against his defender. He is a cagey player who, (surprise, surprise) draws and inordinate number of fouls. Layman has drawn 77 fouls and converted 55. He'll get numerous opportunities to go one on one against Edwards, so Vince better be ready to go, and he better be ready to move his feet and not reach. Advantage - Layman
Damonte Dodd vs Isaac Haas
Dodd is a power forward playing center. At 6'9 240 pounds, I wouldn't want to fight him, but Big Haas is going to tower over him and outweigh him by 35 pounds. Dodd's job is to set picks and collect garbage. What I'm afraid of is Maryland spreading the floor and using Dodd in the pick and roll game. I'm not worried about Dodd rolling to the basket, but I am worried about either Trimble or Pack turning the corner and attacking Haas with the dribble. Haas looks like someone just learning to ice skate, unsure of his footing and exactly how everything in his body works, when he ventures out past the free throw line, and that's where Dodd is going to take him. Marland didn't run a lot of high ball screens against Michigan State, instead preferring to run straight isolation, but I expect a heavy dose of it against Purdue. You don't want to let Maryland's guard get a head start at the basket because they will draw fouls. Haas will need to use his enormous frame to cut of the driver and then recover back to the rolling Dodd. I expect Dodd to get at least 3 easy dunks on the pick and roll action, but if Haas can somehow contain the ball handler off the pick, he will be doing his job. Advantage - Haas, but he won't be guarding Dodd much in the post. Also, everything I said in regards to Dodd vs Haas holds true for Dodd vs Hammons. A.J. better be ready to defend the pick and roll early and often.
Evan Smotrycz: Does this name sound familiar? It should because in 2011-2012 Smotrycz was a reserve forward for Michigan who scored 10 points in 17 minutes off the bench to help the Wolverines beat Purdue in Mackey. Smotrycz and Dodd pretty much split time, and Smotrycz might be an even bigger matchup problem for Purdue than Dodd because Smotrycz will either pick and pop, or simply spot up and dare one of our big men to guard him outside. The good news is that Smotrycz was hurt during most of the non conference and has yet to find his shooting stroke. The bad news is that Smotrycz has a shooting stroke and several players have found their stroke against Purdue. It will be interesting to see how Maryland plays this. Against Michigan State I saw a lot of Layman and Smotrycz on the floor at the same time. Can they do that and at the same time defend the Purdue bigs on the defensive end...it should be interesting.
Jared Nickens: Nickens is Maryland's Kendall Stephens. If Nickens takes a 2 point shot against Purdue it's because he accidentally stepped on the 3 point line. He is a streaky shooter that isn't afraid to pull the trigger when he is open or when he isn't open. Maryland uses him to spread the floor and punish teams that sag off to stop the Trimble drive or the Wells and Layman isolation. He will probably take around 5 or 6 3's against Purdue. Let's hope he's riding a cold streak like he was against Michigan St.(0-3) and not a hot streak like he was riding against Oklahoma State (3-6). He's not hard to stop if you stay at home, but you've got to stay at home and not cheat. We haven't been very good at that in some games.
Dion Wiley: Wiley is a guy that has seen his minutes go down as Nickens have gone up because he essentially plays the same role. Occasionally you will see them on the court at the same time when the Terps really want to spread it out and give Trimble room to attack the rim. Like Nickens, Wiley is a streak shooter who will bury a 3 if you cheat off to help. Wiley is a combined 5-7 from outside the arc the last 2 games. He's just the type of player who has hurt Purdue off the bench this season.
Michal Cekovsky: I only add Cekovsky because he is around 7'1 and might see significantly more playing time against Hammons and Haas than he has in any other game. Basically, if Haas is an unpolished diamond, Cekovsky is still a piece of coal. He is big and he has decent feet for a large man, but they don't play Big 10 basketball in Slovakia, and that's where Cekovsky was this time last year. His job is to play defense and stay out of the way on offense. If nothing else, I expect he will use a good number of fouls (if they actually call fouls) in the Hack-a-Haas.
Purdue on Offense:
I'm not going to lie guys, I'm running out of gas and I probably need to publish this thing before game tomorrow. I'm going to keep this section short and sweet. Purdue needs to run their offense and attack the paint if Maryland goes with their prefered line up of 2 6'9 forwards on the inside. That doesn't mean we need to throw the ball inside immediately and stand around and watch Haas or Hammons work in the post. If we turn this game into Haas and Hammons against Maryland we are going to get run out of the building. Yes, the ball needs to go into the post, but it doesn't have to stay there. I like A.J. much more than I like Haas in this particular game because if Maryland goes small they are going to double down hard on the post, and Haas doesn't have the skill or vision at this point in his career to find the open man. Haas seems to play best against bigger guys he can bang with as opposed to smaller guys who get underneath him and flop. We're going to need solid contributions 1-5 on offense if we're going to beat Maryland. We have players that can hurt them, but we have to utilize their basketball skills and not their standing around and watching our center skills.
Look, I know Bryson has become a polarizing figure on the Purdue roster, but we're going to need him tomorrow because Maryland excels at getting guards into foul trouble and I just don't think P.J. or Dakota can hold up on the defensive end in constant isolations or pick and rolls. Bryson has the physical ability to make things difficult on Maryland on the defensive end and dish out a little of Marylands own drive to get fouled offense when he has the ball, but we'll see if he has been forgiven for his transgressions. I don't anticipate seeing him, but I sure would like to.