Maryland started this year’s tournament off right, a blowout win over the 14th seeded Bucknell Bison. The Bison were hoping to slow the game down a bit so that they could hopefully keep Maryland from getting out in the open floor and running. It worked briefly in stretches, but the Terps used their defense to force their way into transition opportunities. Shatori Walker-Kimbrough led the way with 5 steals. Her classmate dominated the paint with 25 points and 10 rebounds. Here’s five observations from the Terps 1st Round win.
Seniors. This isn’t last year’s Senior class and that’s not to knock them in any way. The urgency and efficiency in which they played with was remarkable, they led the way for their teammates and took any nerves or jitters out of the equation. Jones probably expected some type of double team or scheme to be sent her way, that wasn’t the case. It was her going one-on-one with Sune Swart and it didn’t end will for the Bucknell big. As for SWK, she came out looking to attack on both ends of the floor from the opening tip. Her aggressiveness definitely set the tone and the Terps ran with it from there. That type of Senior leadership is rare, a great bonus for the Terps.
Defense. It’s been an area that the Terps have been wildly inconsistent all year, but they picked the right time to be rolling on that side of the ball. Maryland’s size, length and athleticism is tough for any opposing offense to handle. When they pressure the ball like they did today, it’s going to be very tough to beat them. That’s what’s been missing consistently for the Terps, what they do on the defensive end will play a monumental role in just how far they go in this tournament. What’s clear is that they are off to a very good start.
Sophomores. We’ve been talking all year about the contributions from this extremely talented freshman class at Maryland. This time we’re going to talk about these two young ladies that can play a pivotal role for the Terps going forward. Their ability to defend both bigs and smalls as well as score with and without their backs to the baskets offer a great change of pace to Brionna Jones.
Turnovers. The Terps forced 20 turnovers. That’s pretty much self explanatory, they were everywhere on the defensive end of the floor. The steals led to transition buckets, the deflections slowed down the Bucknell offense and their refusal to get stopped by screens was extremely impressive.
Chip. While the Terps have managed to keep things PC (politically correct), it’s clear that they were and are still feeling a bit disrespected by their seeding. It’s in their eyes, its in the manner in which they played that first game. The fact that there wasn’t a bunch of celebrating afterwards during availability post game. Last year the team was giddy with excitement after their first round win, this year it felt more like an expectation versus an accomplishment. Certainly something to keep an eye on as the tournament continues.