To preview tonight's critical ACC opener vs. Maryland, we had the opportunity to trade notes with Testudo Times' Alex Kirshner to talk Terps basketball. Our questions and Alex's answers below.
BC Interruption: BC and Maryland have been tabbed two of the most disappointing teams of the early season. No shame in losing to ranked UConn (we know the feeling) and Ohio State teams, but losses to Oregon State and most recently, George Washington, mar the early season slate. What went wrong in those two games, specifically?
Testudo Times: It's difficult to pinpoint one thing. The Terps have only one reliable interior scorer, sophomore Charles Mitchell, because the rest of their big men have either been a) terrible or b) Evan Smotrycz, who's a great stretch four but isn't a classic inside threat. But they've dealt with all the problems typically associated with not having a single healthy point guard with experience, too. Seth Allen, the slated starter, is out with an injury until at least the new year, so they've relied far too much on talented freshman Roddy Peters and gritty, tiny reserve Varun Ram. Their perimeter defense has been mediocre, too; Ohio State essentially took target practice for 40 minutes the other week.
BCI: Since BC and Maryland last met, the Terps look very different than they did a season ago. Gone are James Padgett, Seth Allen, Logan Aronhalt and first round NBA Draft Pick Alex Len. Heck, BC just saw Pe'Shon out in USC. Who are the key offensive weapons on this Maryland team?
TT: Jake Layman is a fun Swiss-army-knife kind of player, and he's done by far the most offensive damage this season. Dez Wells and Smotrycz, the two talented juniors, have also been fine offensively, though in Wells' case especially, the Terps need to get a little bit more going forward. Nick Faust can score a little, too, when he's not completely out of control.
BCI: On defense, much has been made of the NCAA's new hand-check rules. The new rules have seemingly wreaked havoc on the Eagles -- particularly with little depth on the bench once their stars get in early foul trouble. What has the impact been on the Terps with respect to the new rules?
TT: Like everybody, I think it's been something of an adjustment. Wells fouled out with something like five minutes left against George Washington on Sunday, and several Terps have had to close out games with four fouls. It has seemed to me like that's been going on more frequently in these first nine games, though I admittedly don't have definitive data to back that up.
BCI: BC is 8-5 vs. the Terps in ACC play, including a 3-2 BC advantage at Conte Forum. Do you think the Terps have struggled in their trips to Conte Forum more than most? If so, why?
TT: Conte Forum is an ACC road arena, and the Terps haven't done well in ACC road arenas. I don't know exactly why that is, but it's probably fair to chock up some of it to inexperience. They won just twice on the road in conference play last year, and some of their losses were complete folds down the stretch. They'll need to get better.
BCI: This will be the final time the Eagles and Terps will square off in the regular season as members of the ACC. Having recently gone through a league change, curious how Terps fans are feeling about the conference switch. Which opponents are you most looking forward to facing next year in the Big Ten? Which ACC series will you miss the most?
TT: Maryland fans will miss hosting Tobacco Road schools at Comcast Center more than anything. It's no secret that the Maryland-Duke rivalry means more to most of us than it does to most of them, but those schools have played some tremendous basketball against one another, and that will be missed. I'm excited for trips to Assembly Hall and the like in the Big Ten, though, and it'll be fun to see more of schools like Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State.
BCI: Last one. Prediction time. Who ya got? What's the final score?
TT: Maryland has looked badly out of sorts lately. Until the Terrapins prove they've gotten their act together and learned to win games somewhere other than in College Park, I have a very hard time picking them in another state: Eagles 71, Terps 68.
BCI: Thanks for joining us, Alex.
To learn more about the Maryland Terrapins before they are out the door and off to the Big Ten, check out Testudo Times.