Midnight Madness returns to Cole Field House
COLLEGE PARK--You won’t necessarily get much out of Jake Layman during an interview. He’s a man of few words, but, man, that jumpshot is textbook.
Rising up for three on the break or off a screen in the half-court, you can sometimes see the guards begin to drift back on defense because, during this preseason, it seems to go in more times than not.
“I think about Jake last year on this date to today’s practice, wow. It’s not even close,” Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon said earlier this month. “He’s a very confident kid. It’s great to see.”
The fundamentals were always there, the 6-8 frame with what looked like an effortless jumper, rocking the ball back and launching from distance, but that confidence wasn’t.
There would be stretches last season, like in the heart of the non-conference schedule when he went 1-of-12 from three-point range over a five-game run, where his shots simply weren’t falling.
But then he would come back with a performance like February 2 against Wake Forest when he was 4-of-6 from deep.
It’s that streakiness that Layman hopes to eliminate and it seems to be working so far. After a breakout trip to the Bahamas this August when he reached the 25-point mark in two of the team’s three games, success has continued in the preseason.
He scored 14 points in the team’s first open scrimmage of the fall and poured in 21 more during Maryland’s Red-Black scrimmage on Saturday.
“It definitely took a lot of work this offseason,” Layman said. “It’s definitely a confidence level on the court, knowing I can knock those shots down when I have to knock those shots down.”
A breakout season would solve one of the three major problems that Maryland struggled with last season--three-point shooting.
Without a go-to shooter in 2012-13, the Terrapins finished tied for 195th in the nation in that category. That was even with teams like Cal State Northridge and St. Peter’s.
“He’s got a little bit more of a swagger to him,” assistant coach Scott Spinelli said of Layman.
“It goes back to what Coach Turgeon talks about with his guys. He’s always preaching to his guys to make sure that whether they make three mistakes in a row or five or six mistakes in a game, to maintain their confidence and I think that’s how he coaches and that’s how guys hopefully play with a swagger and confidence about them. Jake right now is a result of that coaching style.”
It’s unclear whether Layman will start or come off the bench when Maryland takes the floor against Connecticut to open the season, but he is within the group of “seven and a half” players that Turgeon is comfortable putting on the floor to begin a game.
“Whether I come off the bench or start, I do the same things,” Layman said. “Make shots, take care of the ball, make good decisions. Nothing really changes.”
Here in the preseason, Maryland has shown a variety of packages to help get Layman open shots, including rolling him off of screens on the wing and using him as a trailing shooter in transition.
With weapons like guards Dez Wells and Seth Allen to attack the basket on the break, having Layman shade back as an outlet on the perimeter will be an asset.
“I’m happy for him because there were times last year when it wasn’t a lot of fun,” Turgeon said. “He’s got a chance to be special. He really does.”