3 TAKE­AWAYS Frus­tra­tion creeps in af­ter bru­tal loss

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - COLLEGE BASKETBALL - By Don Markus

IOWA CITY, Iowa — From the Mary­land men’s bas­ket­ball team los­ing to an­other un­ranked op­po­nent to the strug­gles of sopho­mores Aaron Wig­gins and Eric Ayala to coach Mark Tur­geon’s postgame com­ments, here are three take­aways from the Terps’ 67-49 loss Fri­day night at Iowa:

The Terps didn’t take ad­van­tage of play­ing against an­other un­der­manned op­po­nent. Ev­ery year since Mary­land started find­ing its way into the Top 25 on a reg­u­lar ba­sis, there have been games when fans, me­dia and even Tur­geon came away ask­ing the same ques­tion af­ter a loss.

How did that hap­pen?

It hap­pened last month, when Se­ton Hall was with­out its two lead­ing scor­ers, in­clud­ing se­nior guard Myles Pow­ell, and the Pi­rates went up big early and held on for a 52-48 home win.

It hap­pened again at Carver-Hawk­eye Arena.

Iowa came into the game play­ing with­out se­nior point guard Jor­dan Bo­han­non, who was shut down last month for the sea­son with a hip in­jury, and was fac­ing its third straight game with­out red­shirt fresh­man shoot­ing guard CJ Fredrick, who suf­fered a sprained an­kle in a loss to Penn State in Philadel­phia.

In this case, it seemed that all the Terps had to do was stop ei­ther ju­nior cen­ter Luka Garza or sopho­more wing Joe Wieskamp and they would likely win the game, pos­si­bly with ease.

In­stead, Garza and Wieskamp com­bined for 47 of their team’s 67 points, with no other Hawk­eye scor­ing more than seven.

Since Garza is 6 feet 11, 260 pounds and the Big Ten’s lead­ing scorer, the ob­vi­ous choice to take out was Wieskamp, who is mostly known as a spot-up 3-point shooter.

In Iowa’s first three losses this sea­son to DePaul, San Diego State and Michi­gan, Wieskamp made just five of 23 shots from the field, in­clud­ing three of nine 3-point­ers, and av­er­aged 5.3 points.

Af­ter Mary­land lim­ited Wieskamp to just one shot — a missed 3-pointer — in the first 8½ min­utes Fri­day, an un­con­tested cor­ner 3 he made off an in­bounds pass got both the 6-6, 210-pound Wieskamp and the Hawkeyes go­ing.

“We ran a play for him and they killed it, and he just popped out to the cor­ner and then they went to the next op­tion de­fen­sively and he was open — a good find,” Iowa coach Fran McCaf­fery said.

Said Tur­geon: “That was com­mu­ni­ca­tion on that one. That was a guy miss­ing an as­sign­ment.”

Start­ing with Wieskamp’s 3, Iowa scored 14 straight points in a 19-2 run that helped open a 38-24 half­time lead. Wieskamp scored 18 of his ca­reer-high 26 points in the half. He hit three straight 3-point­ers, in­clud­ing one with 2.3 sec­onds left in the first half, and five of nine for the game.

Tur­geon added that two of the threes in the first half came be­cause of the at­ten­tion his team was pay­ing to Garza, who would wind up with 21 points him­self.

Wieskamp was com­ing off a game in which he scored 21 points in a loss at Ne­braska on Tues­day, but missed nine of the 10 3-point­ers he tried.

Asked if the first 3 was the cat­a­lyst for his per­for­mance, Wieskamp said: “It def­i­nitely helped me get go­ing. Miss­ing nine 3’s in a game can af­fect some­one’s con­fi­dence, but my team­mates and coaches did a great job of telling me to con­tinue to shoot.”

Ayala and Wig­gins are in the midst of a sopho­more slump. As fresh­men last sea­son, Eric Ayala and Aaron Wig­gins played ma­jor roles in Mary­land’s 23-11 record and re­turn to the NCAA tour­na­ment af­ter a year’s ab­sence.

Ayala was the big­gest reve­la­tion, par­tic­u­larly as a 3-point shooter and ball han­dler to take the pres­sure off An­thony Cowan Jr.

Un­til a late-sea­son shoot­ing slump, Ayala was the team’s best 3-point shooter. Wig­gins, who spent most of the sea­son in a sixth-man role, led the Terps in 3-point shoot­ing.

With their roles re­versed, since Ayala is now com­ing off the bench, both have strug­gled, par­tic­u­larly on of­fense. Af­ter each shot over 40% on 3-point­ers last sea­son, Wig­gins is down to 28.7% and Ayala is at 24.7%. They were a com­bined 0-for-5 against the Hawkeyes from 3-point range, and 0-for-10 over­all.

Af­ter Wig­gins stepped out of bounds on Mary­land’s first pos­ses­sion of the game for the first of his three turnovers, Tur­geon quickly pulled him from the game. Ayala nearly gave up the ball on his first play, then wound up with four of his team’s 17 turnovers.

Wig­gins, who had been av­er­ag­ing a lit­tle over 10 points in a lit­tle over 30 min­utes a game, went score­less for the first time in his col­lege ca­reer in a sea­son-low 17 min­utes. Ayala, who is av­er­ag­ing just un­der 10 points, fin­ished with just two — on a pair of free throws — in 28 min­utes.

“Eric’s made a lot of big shots for us. Tonight he didn’t,” Tur­geon said. “We have some guys that are re­ally good play­ers that need to act like they’re re­ally good play­ers and play like it. Tonight we didn’t. I’m not go­ing to sin­gle one guy out. We didn’t look like us.”

Tur­geon’s frus­tra­tion con­tin­ues to grow. Early on in his nine-year ten­ure at Mary­land, Tur­geon would of­ten call out some of his play­ers af­ter games for their poor ef­fort. While the me­dia en­joyed his hon­esty, some fans thought he should have taken more of the blame him­self.

Tur­geon has of­ten done that in re­cent years, but this team’s lack­adaisi­cal ap­proach in sev­eral games ap­pears to be eat­ing at him. Some thought things had changed with the de­par­ture of the Mitchell twins fol­low­ing the Se­ton Hall loss, but the per­for­mance against the Hawkeyes was even more piti­ful.

“We were bad. We stunk,” Tur­geon said. “I’ve been do­ing this a long time and that ranks up there as one of the worst [games] my teams have ever played. We did good cop-bad cop, we tried every­thing. We couldn’t get them mo­ti­vated. We came off two re­ally good wins, we played well. I didn’t see it com­ing. I didn’t ex­pect this. You have one night a year where you don’t play well, but at least you com­pete.”

Asked what needs to change for the Terps not to re­peat this ef­fort go­ing for­ward, Tur­geon said: “I don’t know. If I had an an­swer, I would have changed it al­ready.”

Tur­geon said that he had hint of trou­ble at prac­tice Thurs­day, but he seemed to ig­nore it.

“We were ter­ri­ble in prac­tice yes­ter­day. They didn’t re­spond to my voice at all in prac­tice,” he said. “They made up their mind, ‘Maybe we’re pretty good.’ Hope­fully tonight hum­bles us and we get back to lis­ten­ing to the coach. I think our whole thing is play­ing with con­fi­dence and shar­ing the bas­ket­ball bet­ter. I think that’s re­ally a big part of mov­ing for­ward.”

Tur­geon has al­ways been hes­i­tant about get­ting in his play­ers’ faces, as coaches such as McCaf­fery and Michi­gan State’s Tom Izzo of­ten do. McCaf­fery’s tech­ni­cal foul, called af­ter Cowan was fouled on a 3-point shot, co­in­cided with his team’s come­back, some­thing Tur­geon’s tech­ni­cal did against LSU in the NCAA tour­na­ment.

It’s doubt­ful that Tur­geon will change his ap­proach at this stage of his ca­reer, but af­ter an­other per­for­mance like the one the Terps gave Fri­day, he just might.

CHARLIE NEIBERGALL/AP

Mary­land coach Mark Tur­geon watches dur­ing the first half against Iowa on Fri­day in Iowa City. The No. 12Ter­rap­ins fell be­hind by 14 points at half­time and never re­cov­ered.

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