Terps could not replicate Syracuse's speed
Remember that statistic about Maryland leading the ACC is fouls called against them? It came courtesty of CSN stats guru Mike Lynch, who found that the Terrapins were called for 20.9 per game in ACC play, close to a full foul more than the next team, Wake Forest, which piles up an even 20.
Conspiracy theorists rejoiced. Here’s the proof, right?!
But there’s actually a pretty simple explanation for why Maryland, which sits at 15-13 and 7-8 in league play, is called for so many fouls. Much of it comes from the construction of the team itself.
Head coach Mark Turgeon’s team has struggled all season to defend on the perimeter. That explains a loss to Connecticut, despite scoring 77 points. How about a loss to Oregon State, despite scoring 83? A loss to Pittsburgh despite 79 points rounds it out nicely.
Roddy Peters, who played major minutes at point guard to begin the season, is a sub-par defender. Though he continues to improve, Turgeon has acknowledged as much. His value comes in his ability to lead the break and find teammates in a position to score.
Seth Allen missed game action until nearly the turn of the new year. Even once he returned, it took a month before his lateral quickness came back to a point where he could defend effectively.
Jake Layman is not an elite defender. Evan Smotrycz has trouble with athletic forwards, as was evidence by the small sample size against Jerami Grant and Syracuse, as well as against Jabari Parker and Duke.
All of that means that a lot of opponents find their way into the paint.
Now without NBA-bound center Alex Len, to whom Maryland could funnel players and likely end up with a blocked shot, the paint is open. Charles Mitchell and Shaquille Cleare are below-the-rim defenders. Damonte Dodd has shown flashes, but is too raw overall to see extended minutes.
So what happens when there is consistent dribble penetration and no shot blocker? Fouls. Lots of them.
Add those to the missteps on the offensive end, perhaps Dez Wells out of control en route to the rim or team-wide difficulties setting proper screens, and it becomes clear why it’s feasible that Maryland leads the league in fouls called against it.
Looking at it in relation to possessions, that also doesn't look good. The Terrapins commit a foul on 28.4 percent of their possessions, or one about every 3.52 possessions. That ranks 199th in the country, wedged between UMKC and UCSB.
We can close the book on the conspiracy theories.