Maryland junior Evan Smotrycz only took seven shots on Sunday against Virginia. Seven shots, hitting five of them, for a solid 13 points while adding five rebounds.
For perspective, Smotrycz has taken less than seven shots in a game only five times in the Terrapins’ 31 contests this year.
But head coach Mark Turgeon doesn’t mind. In fact, he’d encourage it.
“I think Evan has forced too many shots this year, trying to be too big a part of our offense,” Turgeon said in a conference call with the media on Monday. “He was more of a facilitator [vs. Virginia], pick-and-pop, guys running at him, you know, trying to get guys shots.”
The result was efficiency, which Turgeon valued against a team that is among one of the most efficient in the country.
“I thought his shot selection was tremendous,” Turgeon said. “That’s why we shot the percentage that we shot against a great defensive team because we were much more patient than we’ve been all year.”
When patient and methodical, Smotrycz is a matchup problem. At 6-9, he has the size to get to the rim, but defenders also need to respect his outside shot. Sunday against Virginia, Cavaliers forward Akil Mitchell had difficulties balancing both.
The question will be if it continues. If defenses key in on Smotrycz in the ACC tournament, as Turgeon alluded to, the junior would be better served to work to get others involved rather than force up his own shots.
Defenders compensating for Smotrycz means more opportunities for Charles Mitchell in the paint, or driving lanes for guards Dez Wells and Seth Allen.
“I loved his [stat] line. I loved it,” Turgeon said. “I think that’s why we played better as a team.”