Preview: Maryland hosts Morgan State at Comcast

Preview: Maryland hosts Morgan State at Comcast
November 29, 2013, 8:00 am
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Midnight Madness returns to Cole Field House

(Associated Press)

VITALS

Date: 29 November 2013

Time: 6:00 p.m.

Location: Comcast Center, College Park, Md.

Television: ESPN3

Spread: N/A

FASTBREAK PREVIEW

Fresh off of a tournament win at Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands, Maryland returns home with a reshuffled coaching staff and a new face set to join the program, special assistant Juan Dixon.

The tournament win in the Virgin Islands was an early season tipping point, flipping a 1-2 disappointment into a 4-2 record and helping to answer some legitimate questions in the process. Take a look below to see how Maryland matches up against Morgan State on Friday.

[RELATED: Maryland hires former guard Juan Dixon as special assistant]

MATCHUP TO WATCH

Morgan State’s Ian Chiles vs. Maryland’s frontcourt

There an old adage that says you can’t teach size. It’s true and Maryland will find that out on Friday night. Chiles, a senior and native of New Jersey, is 7-2. 

Maryland faces him at a unique time. Their former seven-footer, Alex Len, is gone to the NBA. Their incoming seven-footer, signee Trayvon Reed, doesn’t come until next fall. So Maryland will have to make due with an the undersized (comparatively) but deep frontcourt it has already.

Chiles is averaging 13.9 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 2.9 blocks per game. It will be up to center Shaquille Cleare and forward Charles Mitchell to stop him, along with freshman center Damonte Dodd if coach Mark Turgeon chooses to dig deeper into the bench.

MARYLAND PLAYER TO WATCH

Evan Smotrycz, forward

After struggling in Maryland’s first game of Paradise Jam against Marist, Smotrycz became an invaluable offensive option for the Terrapins over the next two games. His 20 points against Northern Iowa tied a career high and helped to fight off a pesky Panthers team, while his 13 points the next night helped Maryland over Providence.

He and fellow forward Jake Layman bring similar skill sets to the table, which makes it more difficult for defense when they are on the floor at the same time. Look for Smotrycz to continue to space the floor, but also have the ability to drive to the rim and finish through contact if defenses are focused on chasing him off the three-point line.

[RELATED: Dustin Clark promoted to assistant, replacing Dalonte Hill]

MORGAN STATE PLAYER TO WATCH

Justin Black, guard

Black is a local product, having graduated from powerhouse DeMatha (Md.) before coming to Morgan State. He is a compact guard at 6-2, 230 pounds and is the team’s leading scorer at 18.4 points per game.

Like Providence's Bryce Cotton, who Maryland faced in the Paradise Jam finale, Black is a guard who will take a lot of shots and is often the center of the offense. As with any volume shooter, the key will be to close out possessions with defensive rebounds and not give him multiple looks at the basket.

Maryland should not be afraid to force him to the free throw line if depth allows it, as Black shoots just 45 percent from the stripe.

INTANGIBLE TO CONSIDER

It has been unofficial for over a month, but now it is set in stone. Dustin Clark is the team’s newest assistant after Dalonte Hill formally resigned on Wednesday. Clark had been on the bench for all of the team’s games so far this season, technically as the team’s director of basketball operations.

He now steps into a full-time coaching role and Friday night’s Morgan State game will mark his first as a Division I assistant.