After an emotional win over Georgetown on Tuesday, No. 3 Maryland returns to the floor on Friday night for a game against Rider.
Here are 5 things you need to know.
1) ‘Weight of the world’ lifted
Maryland’s game against Georgetown was enormous, not just for the immediacy of having an early test as the No. 3 team in the nation but because it was a game 20-plus years in the making with local rivalry implications.
Head coach Mark Turgeon said he felt like life was put on hold to prepare for that game, but now they’re past it and they can get into a normal routine again.
2) Trap game?
Maryland senior guard Rasheed Sulaimon said that this is one of those games the Terrapins have to be careful about.
“Heading into Rider before we go to Cancun can be kind of a trap game, coming off a big emotional win and we can’t overlook anyone,” Sulaimon said. “We’re getting ready and getting focused again to scout Rider like any other team.”
What might indicate that Maryland won’t overlook them? They were more or less beaten through 34 minutes against Georgetown before storming back from seven points down to win. At this point, they likely understand that they still have much to work on.
3) Another mid-major in the mix
Maryland welcomed Mount St. Mary’s in its season opener, a team that was picked to win the Northeastern Conference. Though Rider must now overcome an 0-2 start, they come into the 2015-16 season as one of a handful of teams in the mix to win the MAAC.
Why? Having three starters back helps, including a pair of guards in Teddy Okereafor and Jimmie Taylor. The key so far, though, has been the early progress of junior Xavier Lundy. His minutes have doubled from last season and his production has reflected that increase, going from 5.8 points in 14.5 minutes per game last season to 14 points in 28 minutes per game through two games so far.
The 6-7, 230-pound forward shoots 56.5 percent from the floor and can extend the defense out toward the three-point line as well.
4) Figuring out the backcourt rotation
Turgeon even said it after the win over Georgetown. Maryland missed Dion Wiley in the rotation. Because he was out and, as Turgeon said, he’s still finding the “guts” to play Jaylen Brantley, Rasheed Sulaimon and Melo Trimble logged more minutes than they would have liked.
Brantley played against Mount St. Mary’s in the opener and had a nice lob to Jake Layman for a slam, but played just one minute against Georgetown. A game like the one on Friday night should afford Turgeon the flexibility to put Brantley in and experiment with the level of comfort he gets from it.
5) Polishing Diamond
Georgetown center Bradley Hayes was as fundamental a veteran college big man as you’ll find and Diamond Stone struggled to find his groove against him. He struggled with foul trouble and couldn’t get looks offensively or stops defensively.
Turgeon said that is completely natural so early in a college career. Don’t be surprised on Friday night against Rider to see more feeding into Stone in the post and letting him go to work. With Hayes not clogging the lane, he will have more freedom of motion and we’ll be able to see his full offensive repertoire again.