SPOKANE, Wash. -- Robert Carter, Jr.’s offensive stat line was more solid than beautiful in Sunday’s 73-60 victory over Hawaii, as he scored seven points on 3-of-6 shooting before fouling out of the game late.
But it was the fact that he made another guy’s line look ugly that made all the difference.
Assigned to defend star Hawaii center Stefan Jankovic, Carter made the junior’s night a hassle. Despite Jankovic’s diverse offensive game that ranges from strong deep post touches to shots well beyond the three-point line, Carter stuck to him all night and held him to 14 points on 5-of-17 shooting from the floor.
He made three threes, but one came when defended by freshman Diamond Stone. Another came with a hand in his face. Another came from the top of the key, almost deep enough that his foot neared the outermost reaches of the halfcourt logo. All tough shots. A defender can only tip his cap on those.
In the paint, he shot just 2-of-8. Simply put? Carter had his number.
“I wanted to take that challenge on,” Carter told CSN. “We watched him play yesterday [on film] and everybody’s been talking about how good he was.
“He’s versatile. I feel like I’m versatile, so I knew how to guard him. I just took on the challenge tonight and made him take some tough shots.”
Just like any other star player, Jankovic got his 14 points, which is not far off from his average. But the key defensively is making that player inefficient in the process. Making someone take as many shots as they have points scored is typically a good indicator. Carter did even better, forcing Jankovic into those 17 shots to get his 14 points.
It was clear from the start that Hawaii had read the scouting report. After Maryland had issues defending ball-screen actions against South Dakota State, much of what the Rainbow Warriors did started with that on Sunday.
The thought was, get the bigs to move their feet and issues will arise. The difference was, Maryland did a tremendous job as a team in helping and recovering all game -- Carter and the rest.
Take Jankovic out of the game and other pieces of the Hawaii offense can only do so much.
Until midway through the second half, Carter’s defensive efforts simply kept Maryland afloat. Then, once the Terrapins started flipping those defensive stops into transition opportunities, the separation began.
“I was really proud of Rob. He's worked hard,” head coach Mark Turgeon said. “We got on him about three weeks ago, four weeks ago, with some things that we need to start doing, more important than shooting a bunch of jump shots, we need to work on his foot speed and trying to get his body right. And it paid off tonight.”