Photo Courtesy of Maryland Athletics

Inconsistent long-range shooting has haunted Maryland men’s basketball

Trailing by one possession with less than 20 seconds to go against Virginia Tech, Maryland men’s basketball had to do something they’ve struggled with so far in 2021: make a three pointer.

Coming out of a timeout, Hakim Hart had an open look on the right wing, but his attempt clanked off the rim, all but putting to rest the Terps’ shot at a late comeback.

Hart’s miss was the 12th consecutive three-pointer to go astray from deep, as Maryland shot 1-for-13 from beyond the arc in the 62-58 defeat at the hands of the Hokies.

“I feel like it was a pretty good game for us overall,” Hart said. “We just had chances where we could’ve [taken] a lead or more, but we just didn’t. We still trust each other.”

These difficulties from range aren’t new to Mark Turgeon’s squad this season, as they’ve struggled to find consistency since the season began. Through eight games, Maryland is shooting just 26.8% from three, and it’s haunted them early, losing three of their last five all by single digits.

Against George Mason, Eric Ayala had a shot to tie things in the final minute, but after hitting a pair of threes to bring the Terps back, his tying three point attempt came up short. Maryland lost by five.

In the Baha Mar Hoops Bahamas Championship game against Louisville, Maryland held the Cardinals scoreless for almost seven minutes and used an accompanying 11-0 run to take the lead back, but their inability to find consistently good shots kept Louisville within shouting distance. 

Down the stretch, the Terps missed a pair of three pointers, the first of which would’ve tied it. Instead Louisville pulled away, eking out the win. Maryland lost by eight.

Back at home in front of a raucous crowd on hand to honor the legacy of former Maryland standout Len Bias, Maryland again had a chance to tie things with a late three pointer. They couldn’t get it to fall, handing them another loss, on a night where they scored 38 points in the paint. They lost by four.

“We’re all frustrated, because our standard here is high at Maryland,” Turgeon said. “The expectations were high coming into this season, but we’re still getting used to playing with each other.”

With a handful of new pieces still figuring out how to share the floor with one another, some growing pains are to be expected. However, with so much talent on a revamped roster, the early struggles present cause for concern as conference play approaches.

Coming into Wednesday night’s game, the Terps were shooting 28.5 percent from deep, which ranked 12th in the Big Ten. Compounding these woes, Maryland was also allowing the three at the highest clip in the conference, with opponents shooting 34.5 percent from three. 

“We’re not making a lot of shots,” Turgeon said. “It’s where we are. We got to figure out how to get out of it.”

Losing shot-creator Aaron Wiggins to the NBA during the off-season, Maryland has yet to find a consistent answer when it comes to outside shooting. Still, with only eight games played, there is plenty of time to right the ship. 

Until they find that answer, however, it may be tough sledding when trying to put games out of reach.

“We’ll just keep working on it,” Turgeon said. “Hopefully we’ll figure out how to make a few down the road.”