Maryland Basketball: More production needed from frontcourt
The Maryland basketball team is suffering through their first rough patch of the season.
With consecutive losses to Penn State and Purdue, one of the biggest issues has been the lack of production from the frontcourt.
In Tuesday’s loss to Penn State, Maryland’s guards were being stifled in a big way. The Terrapins committed 13 turnovers and no guard scored more than 12 points.
In these types of situations, it’s a huge benefit to have a talented frontcourt that can just catch the ball in the low post and go to work. That way, struggles can be minimized due to high percentage shots and even trips to the free throw line.
Aside from Justin Jackson, the combination of Ivan Bender, Michal Cekovsky, and Damonte Dodd scored just 17 points (5-of-9 shooting) and grabbed nine rebounds.
Jackson has definitely carried the scoring load for the frontcourt in a large majority of games this season. However, he shot just 4-of-11 against the Nittany Lions and it clearly wasn’t his night.
Obviously, Dodd is never going to be a big man that is known for his offense. After all, he averages just 6.5 points-per-game and rarely ventures outside the paint.
Dodd’s best game of the season came against Michigan when he scored 15 points (6-of-11) and grabbed four rebounds in a 77-70 Maryland win.
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Cekovsky continues to work his way back from injury, but hasn’t been able to shoulder a heavy workload since returning. In five games since coming back, he’s only played double-digit minutes once (against Purdue).
When he is healthy, Cekovsky is definitely a capable producer on the offensive end. He did score 10 points against the Boilermakers in addition to rejecting six shots on the defensive end.
Once Cekovsky is at 100 percent, he should be able to contribute at a high level. Prior to missing a lengthy six-game stretch, the Slovakian native was averaging 10.0 points-per-game.
Cekovsky posted a pair of 16-point games during nonconference play.
Finally, Bender has definitely seen his fair share of struggles as of late.
The Bosnia & Herzegovina native rarely plays more than 20 minutes a night, but he hasn’t been extremely productive in the time he has seen the floor. Bender was coming off back-to-back two-point performances coming into Tuesday’s game.
While Bender did score six points in just eight minutes, it’s what he didn’t do that was the most alarming.
With 8:34 left in the game and the Terps trailing 52-44, Melo Trimble found a wide-open Bender rolling right to the basket. Bender had the easiest bucket that a player could ever have.
Instead of dunking the ball, he tried to lay it in, but hit the rim on the attempt. Needless to say, it was a deflating moment for Maryland, who could gained some momentum from such a basket.
IVAN NOOOOOOO pic.twitter.com/83xxDS5MxU
— Terps Watch (@TerpsWatch) February 8, 2017
Then Bender proceeded to foul Penn State’s Lamar Stevens at the other end and Stevens added another point to the Nittany Lions’ total at the free throw line.
Maryland’s frontcourt certainly didn’t do them any favors in the scoring department against Penn State. Aside from freshman Mike Watkins, the Nittany Lions don’t have many imposing bigs to contend with.
The Terps are going to have to get Cekovsky involved more. The junior is an offensively gifted big man that can make things happen around the basket.
On a night where Jackson has his shot falling, this may not be as big of an issue. Regardless, Maryland is going to need more production from their frontcourt going forward if they want to gain a high seed in the NCAA Tournament.