Looked at with no context, the stat line for Maryland freshman Damonte Dodd on Saturday night is unimpressive. He played seven minutes, missed two free throws, had one rebound, and attempted no field goals.
But those seven minutes were Dodd’s most important of the season in Maryland’s near-upset of No. 8 Duke on Saturday, a 69-67 loss at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, N.C.
The vision of head coach Mark Turgeon when recruiting Dodd was to have a long, athletic big in the middle of the defense who can also run the floor, catch the ball in the paint and dunk it when need be.
While it’s true that the Dodd project is far from complete--it’s really just getting started--what we saw from the freshman on Saturday is a step toward what Turgeon had in mind when the 6-11 native of Maryland inked with the Terrapins.
He recorded no blocks, but he altered shots and changed the way Maryland was able to play defense with the way he was protecting the rim. The Terrapins haven’t enjoyed such size on the interior (however briefly and, yes, to a lesser extent) since Alex Len left for the NBA.
For the first time in a while, blown coverage on the perimeter didn’t necessarily mean an easy basket at the rim. He at least made players who drove into the lane think twice or attack with some hesitance, which is all Turgeon could ask of such an unpolished player that he inserted into such a big situation.
Let’s be realistic, though. He has a long way to go.
Don’t forget that Dodd got his “Welcome to Division I” moment, too, when Duke freshman phenom Jabari Parker drove past forward Jake Layman on the perimeter and rose up for a dunk with 1:19 to play. Dodd challenged the shot, but was a moment too late, turning a fine block attempt into a Top 10 Parker highlight.
He is still limited offensively. His ability to be an asset in the screen game needs a lot of development. He is sometimes lost in the paint defensively.
But if there were seven more important minutes to the development of Damonte Dodd so far this season, find them for me. It’ll be tough.