Gary Hahn's Scouting Report: Maryland
NC STATE (13-10, 3-7) vs. MARYLAND (18-7, 4-6)
DATE: Wednesday, February 14, 2007 @ RBC Center, Raleigh, NC (19,722)
TIME: Tipoff: 7:02 p.m. EST
RADIO: Wolfpack Sports Network.
AIRTIME: 6:30 p.m. EST
OPPONENT—Using boxing terms, Maryland hit Duke with a haymaker in the first round and the staggering Blue Devils never recovered. The 72-60 Terrapins win in College Park sent Duke to its first four-game losing streak in 11 years.
Greg Paulus opened the game with a 15-foot jumper and 3-pointer, but Duke missed seven of its next eight shots and committed seven turnovers while Maryland took control. The Terps shot 16-for-29 from the floor in the first half and forced 12 of their 17 turnovers.
James Gist led Maryland with 16 points and 10 rebounds, while freshman Greivis Vasquez added a career-high, 18-points as the Terrapins notched an important victory in their bid to return to the NCAA Tournament after a two-year absence.
Trailing 40-28 at halftime, the Blue Devils managed to stay in the game, but could never make enough plays to regain the lead. Duke cut the deficit to 58-52 before Ekene Ibekwe and Mike Jones sparked a 10-2 Maryland run to take control 68-54 with 3:33 left. Ibekwe and Jones each scored two baskets during the spurt.
The point guard position was a major concern last season when D.J Strawberry was forced to run the offense. Strawberry is back at his normal wing guard position with two freshmen, Vasquez and Eric Hayes alternating at the point. The two newcomers have made a difference. Vasquez is the more aggressive of the two offensively. Hayes, who has been coming off the bench lately, appears to take better care of the ball. Overall, the Terps are averaging nearly 17 turnovers a game.
In ACC games, Maryland is one of the top-five scoring teams in the league (74.2), but has shot inconsistently from the field (.455) and the 3-point arc (.336). Only Virginia Tech (43) has made fewer 3-point field goals against conference opponents than Maryland (49). Mike Jones, leads the Terps in 3-point makes (58) and shoots 42 percent from the arc, while Strawberry, Hayes and Vasquez can also damage opponents from long range.
Inside, Maryland’s front line is athletic and skilled. Ibekwe is a more polished player offensively while Gist can drive and must be respected as an outside threat as evidenced by his 7-of-15 shooting from 3-point range. Will Bowers and Bambale Osby are capable back-ups.
Rebounding is normally one of Maryland’s strengths, but this season the Terps have a minus-6 rebound margin against ACC teams and have outrebounded only one opponent in the last seven games. However, on the offensive glass, the Terps are more consistent and get back about 40 percent of their missed shots overall. Ibekwe and Gist are the team’s best offensive rebounders. Strawberry is an excellent rebounding guard.
Hitting the offensive glass has also helped the Terps get to the free throw line an average of 24 times in ACC games. They’ve made 68 percent of their foul shots. Jones (.826), Vasquez (.831) and Hayes (.952) are the teams best free throw shooters.
On the negative side, Maryland is surrendering 75.5 points a game to conference opponents which ranks in the bottom fourth of the league. However, the Terps defense appears to be improving. In the last 3 games, they’ve held opponents to an average of 67 points and a combined 42 percent from the field.
Deep and athletic, the Terps will use full court pressure and they force an average of 18 turnovers a game. Maryland can go nine deep off the bench with six of the nine-man rotation averaging at least 24 minutes a game.
State has won the last three games in the series with Maryland, including last season’s only meeting in Raleigh 62-58. The two teams will meet again on Saturday, March 3 in College Park, Maryland.
PROBABLE MARYLAND STARTERS
No. Name Pos. Ht. Class PPG RPG APG
A WIN--Would break a two-game State losing streak and improve the Wolfpack to 14-10 overall and 4-7 in the ACC. The Pack would earn its fifth victory in the last 7 games over Maryland in the series, including 4 straight. NC State would improve to 12-5 at home this season (2-4 ACC) while sending Maryland to its third loss in the last five games. The Terps would drop to 18-8 overall and 4-7 in the ACC (1-5 road) as they try to qualify for the NCAA Tournament after a two year absence. The two teams will meet again on Saturday, March 3rd in College Park, Maryland.
A LOSS--Would be the Wolfpack's third in-a-row, marking its longest losing streak of the season. The Pack would drop to 13-11 overall and 3-8 in the ACC. State’s home record would drop to 11-6 (1-5 ACC). Maryland would win its second game in-a-row and snap and a 3-game losing streak to NC State in the series. The Terps would earn their second ACC road win of the season and improve to 19-7 overall and 5-6 in the ACC as they fight to return to the NCAA Tournament after a 2-year absence. The two teams will meet again on Saturday, March 3rd in College Park, Maryland.
IT’S BIG BEN’S TIME --The most improved player on the NC State team is Ben McCauley. How far has he come? Last season, the sophomore center averaged 5.5 minutes in 13 ACC games. This season, he’s the team’s No.2 scorer (16.1), leads the Pack in shooting while running second in rebounding (6.4) and total assists (81). In his last 4 games, McCauley is averaging 18.0 points (72) while shooting .794 (31-of-39) from the field. He’s No.2 in the ACC in field goal percentage (.614).
NO DOUBT, DEFENSE IS WHAT IT’S ALL ABOUT –In beating No. 16 Virginia Tech and No. 3 UNC back-to-back, the Wolfpack’s defensive effort was a huge factor. The two ranked opponents averaged only 69 points (138) and .418 shooting from the field (51-122), including .280 from the 3-point arc (7-25). Since then, the Pack has lost road games at Georgia tech and Miami. In those two games, the opponents averaged 77 points and nearly 50 percent shooting (.496) from the field, including 39 percent from the 3-point range.
DON’T FORGET REBOUNDING –It’s no coincidence that rebounding had something to do with the Pack’s back-to-back wins over nationally ranked Virginia Tech and UNC. State dominated the Hokies 42-29 and outrebounded the Tar Heels 31-25. The following week, in losses at Georgia Tech and Miami, State was outrebounded in both games. At Miami, the Hurricanes held a 42-25 rebounding edge, including 21-8 on the offensive boards. That led to 19 Miami second-change points. The Pack has won or tied the rebounding battle with its opponents 10 times and has an 8-2 record. When outrebounded, State is 5-8.
THE ENGIN THAT COULD—Although he struggled in road losses last week at Georgia Tech and Miami, Engin Atsur has made a huge difference in the Wolfpack since his return from a hamstring injury. In the upset of No. 3 North Carolina, the native of Turkey recorded his first double-double of the season with 12 points and 10 assists in 38 minutes. It has been a long way back for the Pack’s only senior starter and its only point guard. Atsur was off to a great start when he a pulled hamstring muscle against Michigan on November 27th and missed the next 9 games. When he returned on Jan. 6 against Boston College, Atsur dished out a career-high 10 assists. Unfortunately, he injured the muscle again on Jan. 7th and missed three consecutive games before returning again. With Atsur in the lineup, State is 7-4 this season.
GIVE-A-WAYS –Turnovers have sometimes been an issue for NC State. The Pack has averaged 15.4 turnovers a game in ACC play. League opponents have scored 163 points off 154 State turnovers.
DON’T TAKE HIM FOR GRANT-ED –Junior Gavin Grant was forced into a difficult spot when Engin Atsur was injured. The slashing shooting guard was forced to play the point and it was a tough transition, especially against higher-level competition. With Atsur back, Grant has benefited. In the last 4 games, Grant is shooting 50 percent from the field (17-of-34). The junior leads the Pack in scoring in ACC games (15.5) and has shot .505 against league opponents.
MR. HELPER --NC State is averaging an assist on an impressive 59 percent of its field goals (420-708) this season. The Pack had 23 assists on 29 field goals in its loss to Alabama on 12/20/06.
ONE FINE FRESHMAN--Redshirt freshman Brandon Costner is the ACC’s top freshman scorer and rebounder. That’s quite an improvement from last season which was cut short by injury after playing in only five games. The former Parade and McDonalds High School All-American leads the Pack in scoring (16.3), rebounding (7.9) and 3-point field goals (38-109). Costner recorded his sixth double-double of the season with 15 points and 11 rebounds against No.3 North Carolina.
HOLDING THE LINE--State is once again a pretty solid free throw shooting team. The Pack is shooting .715 from the foul line overall and .730 in ACC games. Last season, the Wolfpack shot .751 from the stripe.
NOT STRICTLY MR. OUTSIDE --State no longer relies as much on three-point shooting as in past seasons, but that does not mean the Wolfpack can’t shoot 3-pointers. In its last 8 games, State is shooting 38 percent from 3-point range (55-143). Under Sidney Lowe, the Pack is an inside-out team. Only 33 percent of State’s shots come from the arc compared to 46 percent last season.
FELLS MOVING FORWARD—Sophomore Courtney Fells continues to improve. Against No.3 UNC, Fells scored a career high 21 points and shot 8-of-11 from the field, including 4-of-5 from the 3-point line. In his last 7 games, Fells is averaging 14.4 points (101), 4.3 rebounds (30) while shooting 38-of-74 (.513) from the field. He’s also stepped up his defense lately and leads the team in steals (28) and blocked shots (24).
HORNER CAN HIT ‘EM –Dennis Horner can shoot and his numbers reflect that. In his last 6 games, Horner has made 11-of-16 field goal attempts, including 6-of-9 from 3-point range. The freshman forward recorded a career-high 14 points vs. Clemson on Jan. 9th. However, he’s been scoreless in his last 5 games.
THAT’S A LOT OF MINUTES – Four NC State players rank among the ACC’s top seven in minutes played. Gavin Grant has played every minute of six games this season. Ben McCauley and Brandon Costner have gone the distance in three games each with Courtney Fells never coming out in two games.