Preview: Maryland welcomes Larranaga, Miami to Comcast

Preview: Maryland welcomes Larranaga, Miami to Comcast
January 29, 2014, 6:00 am
(USA TODAY Sports)

VITALS

Date: 29 January 2014

Time: 9 p.m.

Location: Comcast Center, College Park, Md.

Television: ESPN3

Spread: Maryland (-5.5)

FAST BREAK PREVIEW

This game has the potential to end up in the mid-50s. Really. Pair a Maryland team that has a tendency to fall into a rut offensively with a team that willfully grinds the game to a halt, and this one could get ugly.

Preview it all below.

MATCHUP TO WATCH

Maryland’s defense vs. Miami’s style of play

How was it possible for Miami to hang with the No. 2 team in the country, Syracuse? They turn the game into a grind, a slugfest, and hope that they win by TKO. The Hurricanes will use most of the shot clock on each offensive possession, which explains why they rank 345th in the country in scoring at 61 points per game.

For Maryland, a pace like that could be problematic. Prone to offensive slumps, long defensive possessions (and the failure to close out those possessions with an defensive rebound) will only mean trouble when trying to find a groove on the other end of the floor.

Mark Turgeon & Co. preached patience to the media on Tuesday. He’s not wrong.

[RELATED: Maryland commit wins game MVP]

MARYLAND PLAYER TO WATCH

Jake Layman, forward

Turgeon made it a point when talking to the media on Tuesday that Layman needs to be more “selfish” at times in Maryland’s offense. What does he mean?

If a shot is there for him to take, or if an aggressive drive could get him to the rim or draw a foul, he wants the sophomore to take it instead of deferring to others.

Against Miami’s matchup zone (described more in depth below) Layman should have open looks on the perimeter if Maryland can create space. He’ll have to knock them down.

MIAMI PLAYER TO WATCH

Rion Brown, guard

Miami has had more turnover in roster talent than nearly any team in the country. Shane Larkin? Gone. Reggie Johnson? Gone. Durand Scott? Gone. Julian Gamble? Gone. Kenny Kadji? Gone. Trey McKinney Jones? Gone.

That’s 91.5 percent of the Hurricanes' offensive production from a season ago that has either graduated or left early for the NBA Draft. But Rion Brown remains.

Brown leads the team in both scoring and rebounding, but does not shoot a high percentage from the field, now having to bear more of the offensive load this season because of the losses in personnel the Hurricanes have suffered.

Nick Faust will likely guard Brown. He is streaky from the perimeter, but judging by how well Maryland's defense has played on the outside, there's a good chance that he's a threat on Wednesday night.

INTANGIBLE TO CONSIDER

Miami plays a matchup zone defensively, which isn’t all too common and, for a team set to face them, is not always easy to simulate in practice. It starts out typically in a 3-2 base zone set, then each player is responsible for guarding man-to-man the player who enters the area he patrols.

So how do you beat it? Ball movement and ball reversal is the first step. As the ball moves around the perimeter, defensive players will flash out toward the player receiving the ball. Moving it back and forth quickly enough should eventually open up space to drive, which then collapses the defense and either frees shooters on the perimeter or allows for interior passes and opportunities at the rim.

Maryland made it a point to say that it doesn’t want to get baited into taking threes all game, especially if they’re not hitting, which means Dez Wells and Seth Allen should be attacking the rim, along with a more aggressive Jake Layman.