An opposing post player has scored with ease in each of IU’s four losses this ?season.
First, Eastern Washington’s Venky Jois scored 20 points in an upset win in Assembly Hall. Then Louisville’s Montrezl Harrell scored 21 and Georgetown’s Joshua Smith and Michigan State’s Branden Dawson each tallied 14 points each.
In each IU loss this season, its opponent has played primarily through the post to exploit the Hoosiers’ almost complete lack of size. None of those teams, though, do so as much as No. 13 Maryland.
The numbers don’t show it, but the Terrapins’ offense runs through post touches. Freshman guard Melo Trimble draws the headlines with 16.1 points per game, but nearly every Maryland possession reaches the post at some point.
Maryland Coach Mark Turgeon likes to station forwards Jake Layman, Damonte Dodd and Evan Smotrycz on the block and have the Terrapins’ guards cut and move around them. When the ball reaches the low post, opposing defenses are forced to choose — leave their man and collapse on the big man or take their chances one-on-one as a defender.
More times than not, defenses take the first option. That’s when the trouble starts.
Double-teaming a Maryland big man takes a defender away from one of its talented guards.
From there, it’s a waiting game — collapse the defense and kick to a cutter or shooter.
“They’re a tremendous low-post passing team,” IU Coach Tom Crean said. “Smotrycz and Layman are unique in that not only can they shoot and drive, but they can really pass.”
Layman, a 6-foot-8 junior, is the key man in that low-post attack. In Maryland’s first Big Ten season, he’s established himself as one of the conference’s best double-double threats with 14.7 points and 6.9 rebounds ?per game.
Even 6-foot-5 guard Dez Wells gets in on the action. Crean compared him to NBA star Dwyane Wade in the way he can control a game from the post.
“Wells is as good of a passer as we have in the conference, in my mind,” Crean said. “And he’s doing things that we were doing with Dwyane Wade back at Marquette. You put him on the block and he could just carve you up with somebody cutting underneath the basket or kick out for ?a three.”
The continued absence of IU starting center Hanner Mosquera-Perea could lend more effectiveness to Maryland’s offensive style.
In two games since a knee injury sidelined Mosquera-Perea, sophomore forward Collin Hartman and freshman forward Emmitt Holt have formed a two-man rotation at the center position.
Both are undersized, and neither is used to playing center at the Big Ten level.
Crean said Maryland’s passing and size inside are what drew his attention in film study. It’s that offensive system, he said, that has led the Terrapins atop the Big Ten standings.
“I wouldn’t say that there’s anybody we’ve played that has that size and that kind of skill set,” ?he said.