COLLEGE PARK, Md. (WUSA) -- To be a top tier program, you have to beat other top tier schools. When the Terps met Indiana University (Pa.) they were meeting a top tier program -- from Division Two.
It should have been a cake walk. But when Maryland trailed at halftime 34- 33, I noticed for the first time their biggest weakness -- their youth. We all were excited that Head Coach Mark Turgeon blazed the recruiting trail and got some great young talent, but they are just that.
They are young. And they seemed rattled during the exhibition game.
With only one returning senior on the roster, inexperience and lack of more leadership may have an affect this team. Maybe I'm over analyzing or perhaps it's early growing pains. But one thing is for sure, this team will have to perform better against Kentucky on Friday.
Here are a few things I expect will carry over from this game to the next:
Seth Allen will be a baller and give the team a spark.
He was the most consistent and exciting player on the court Friday night. In his first showing at the Comcast Center, he had 16 points, five assists, five steals and shot 50% from behind the arc. I LOVE this kid. I can't say he has star potential, but the freshman point guard has great playmaking ability. Most people think he should crack the starting lineup, but I disagree. I say start Pe'shon and have Allen be your change of pace player off the bench. When your offense slows down, insert the freshman to give it a little kick start.
Do NOT rely on Alex Len at all.
I say this for a couple of reasons. First of all, I saw little development from a year ago. And secondly, he will be double teamed often, hurting his chances of being a reliable threat. IUP didn't struggle to deny Len the ball. Len's lack of aggression made it easy. They had a guy fronting him and another on the help side just waiting for the entry pass. As a result, Maryland shot 21 three pointers. Don't live and die by the three pointer (not to sound like a cable commercial).
Back to my first point, Len looked very similar to the center we saw a year ago. He did not crash boards. As the tallest guy on the court, he should not finish the six rebounds. He blocked and altered a lot of shots, but the Crimson Hawks were not afraid to attack him. When he did touch the ball on offense -- and perhaps it was the double team -- he seem to force up bad shots and didn't really look like he had any new post moves in his arsenal. I was very disappointed in the "future lottery pick."
Charles Mitchell will be a force on the boards and Shaq Cleare will shake off the jitters and join him.
Wasn't in love with Mitchell's shot selection, but he was a beast on the boards. He He finished the game with 15 rebounds. Most of his points came off put backs. If he can be a consistent scorer, he has the chance to rack up a ton of double-doubles.
Shaq was not good. Turgeon chalked it up to his poor performance to the game moving too fast for him. He was trapped behind picks and missed a few dunks. I'm chalking it up to jitters. I spoke with Shaq a day before the game and he told me he was trying to get on Sportscenter as often as possible. He's a confident player and you can tell by just talking to him. Nerves got the best of him. Expect him to get better as he get more comfortable.
I'm not counting the Terps out just yet. I'm just warning you that all may not be what they seem. This team can have success and the early part of schedule will give them time to work out the kinks.