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Enjoying the Build: 4 Thoughts on Maryland

Rutgers drops a big one, 77-63.

NCAA Basketball: Big Ten Conference Tournament-Purdue vs Rutgers Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

The Scarlet Knights came out strong to start, but had an awful stretch. Aaron has the details here. Here are my thoughts. There are some positives, so be aware when you yell at me in the comments section.

Montez Mathis Had His Best Game: The freshman has been improving game by game, and he brought energy from the start. The Maryland native clearly wanted to show the Terrapins that he is a player and he was active. He had a huge three early, plus some easy lay-ups. He defended well, but was in foul trouble early in the game. If this is a preview of what’s to come, Mathis is going to have a great career here. He has to play like this every game.

The Refs Impacted the Game: A week ago, I wrote about the impact referees can have on the game and played it up as a positive for the sport. However, the refs did nothing to help Rutgers in the RAC today. The Terrapins were shooting two shots in the first half for the last 7 minutes, and Rutgers hadn’t even moved into the one and one. However, the game really changed on a Montez Mathis call. Mathis drove to the hoop, drew contact and and got a floater to fall. When the whistle blew, Rutgers fans cheered as if they would be able to get an and one. The Scarlet Knights were truly building momentum. However, the whistle blew and it was called a charge on Montez. Not only was it his second foul, but also it sucked the wind out of the crowd and Rutgers. Truly the beginning of a big time run for Maryland to put the game out of reach. Apparently, Bob Wentzel said it was a good call, but the RAC fans were hoping for a favorable whistle.

Rutgers Didn’t Give Up in the Second Half: The first five minutes of the second half have been a sorrowful time for the Scarlet Knights this season. But this time, they came out hard and forced Maryland to call a timeout. In fact, in the entire second half, the Scarlet Knights didn’t turnover the ball and were able to outscore Maryland by 7 points. If the game had even been relatively close, Rutgers would have had a chance to win. Not all of this is a plus for Rutgers however, as Maryland is just as young as the Scarlet Knights. Young teams let down, and they could have just let Rutgers keep playing. It’s good that some of the freshman found their groove as Harper hit some threes and McConnell was able to continue his solid play.

Maryland Was a Bad Match-up On Defense: The Scarlet Knights had a tough time defending the Terrapins, who are a more talented version of Rutgers. They defend and rebound the heck out of the ball, limiting opportunities. But on the the offensive side, their big men in Bruno Fernando and Jalen Smith really disrupted things. They were able to get to the basket easily and any time they set a screen the Scarlet Knights’ guards could not fight through them. That opened up the court for Anthony Cowan, Jr. to either shoot, get into the lane or distribute. And each time he was successful. Issa Thiam and Peter Kiss—who need to start giving more on both ends of the court—particularly had trouble.

There are still 17 games left, and plenty of room for improvement.