Monday, 1 February 2010

Maryland Recap

I'm going to do these recaps as often as possible during the ACC season, similar to what I was doing last year...

Good ugly game for Clemson. I think there will be a lot of talk about how neither Clemson or Maryland played well. While I agree to a certain extent (Clemson has not played well on offense for more than 10 minutes at a time for three games running...), I would point out that while there was an abundant amount of sloppy play, part of this can be explained by both teams having excellent defenses. Both teams played to there strengths on defense, Clemson forcing turnovers against a normally surehanded Maryland team (it looked like the press really rattled a few of their younger players) while Maryland held us to 31% from the field. I thought one difference on defense was the job Clemson did in limiting Maryland's easy opportunities after breaking the press and also defending the shot well in the halfcourt set. I don't care how bad the other team looked, holding a good shooting team like Maryland to 36%is something to be happy about. To the chart:

(I can't find win probability charts, but this is pretty close. I assume they are using Bill James' formula to calculate safe leads, but I might be wrong.)

Clemson also won because they took advantage of the primary weakness in Maryland's defense I pointed out in the preview: their inability to keep teams off the offensive glass. Clemson racked up enough boards to keep possessions alive and give us second chances, helping to compensate for the low low field goal percentage. Gary Williams' team have never been great on keeping teams off the offensive glass and from watching them its easy to see why: Maryland likes to challenge shots with two or three guys while treating the rebounds as secondary. Its not necessarily a bad strategy, heck, Purnell employs the same strategy, albeit to a possibly lesser degree, for Clemson. But tonight Maryland ran into Jerai Grant. I don't talk about Grant a lot, and even take a few not-so-subtle jabs at him from time to time, but I give him credit for seizing an opportunity to perform last night. Grant's best skill is probably picking up offensive boards (and points resulting from these boards), but he often gets overpowered or outjumped when playing against a team with considerable inside size and/or heft. Last night, though, he was playing a team that struggles to stop his best attribute as a player, and he made them pay. It will be interesting to see if Maryland goes after Grant next time we play to try and put him in some early foul trouble and take him out of the game.

It was a must win situation and despite the generally close score throughout, I was never too worried about the final result. Good, physical performance by the Tigers. Virginia Tech is actually a team with a somewhat similar defensive profile to Maryland, but lacks the good offense. Based on last night's performance, I think we've got a good chance of winning on the road this weekend and getting back on the right side of .500 in ACC play.


  1. I think people need to appreciate how appalingly bad Maryland was last night. So many of the turnovers were just a result of sloppy play, not great defending, and they did a terrible job of controlling the paint against Booker and Grant. Despite his line, Booker had numerous opportunities inside, he just didn't finish. Maryland let him and Grant get the ball far too easily, something other teams have used very well to beat us this year.

  2. Yeah, like I said above I agree to some extent. Maryland and Clemson both played poorly last night, but I would argue that a portion of that came from good defense, at least more than one would be inclined to grant on the surface given the sloppy play. Clemson was disruptive and rattled the younger Maryland players. I would disagree about Booker, he had a few blown opportunities (which I hope had something to do with the "flu") but I thought Maryland did a good job defending him, even when he managed to get in close. I don't think I've seen him get blocked that often since the FSU games last year. A lot of Grant's success primarily came on the offensive glass, an area of the game that Maryland has never controlled well.

    And again, both Clemson and Maryland played poorly last night, so I don't think we can just say "if Maryland played better they would have routed Clemson". Its more like, "if Clemson and Maryland had both played better it still would have been a close game". The problem for Clemson is they haven't really played well since the GT game.

    Not to move the blame off the players, but I also wondered after I posted how much of an effect the referees had on the sloppiness of the game. Seemed like the game was called pretty inconsistently and it left the players a little tentative, as if they weren't sure where to draw the line in how aggressive they could be. Just thinking out loud here but it would be interesting see if decreases in expected team scoring effeciency in a game is consistent across games called by specific groups of referees.


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