Similarities run deep as No. 13 Maryland, No. 23 Indiana battle on Thursday

  • 01/22/2015 10:19 am in

Before this season started, the atmosphere surrounding Maryland basketball was one of uncertainty.

The Terrapins had five scholarship players transfer from the program and another lost to graduation. Just over half their roster was returning for the 2014-2015 campaign.

But there was a sense of optimism surrounding Maryland, with four freshmen — including three top 100 prospects and the nation’s No. 31 recruit, Romelo Trimble — and North Carolina A & T graduate transfer Richaud Pack, who averaged 17.0 points and 4.6 rebounds last season, coming in.

Before the season started, Tom Crean was able to gather that Maryland coach Mark Turgeon was excited about his team. And through the first 19 games of the season, the Terps have proved Turgeon’s hopes to be accurate.

Heading into tonight’s game in Assembly Hall, Maryland is 17-2 and 5-1 in the Big Ten, and they have earned the nation’s No. 13 ranking in the latest Associated Press top 25 poll.

“They’ve earned their stripes,” Crean said on Wednesday. “They’ve earned their ranking, they’ve earned their notoriety because of the way they’ve played the entire year.”

Indiana, much like Maryland, faced plenty of turnover during the offseason. But both teams have had plenty of success this season.

The Hoosiers have three wins over top 25 teams at the time — SMU, Butler and Ohio State — and have another two wins on the road in Big Ten play. The Terps, meanwhile, have topped the likes of Iowa State, Oklahoma State and Michigan State (twice), only losing to undefeated Virginia and Illinois in Champaign.

And to Crean, the similarities between the two sides successes extend farther beyond wins and losses.

“There are similarities in the sense that I think you can see there’s good chemistry on the court with guys pulling for one another and playing together,” Crean said. “I think those kind of things stand out.”

In fact, as Crean has watched more and more tape on the Terps, he has continued to make the comparison to last year’s national champions UConn in terms of length and versatility — even going as far as saying Maryland has more skilled big men (like 6-foot-9 senior Jake Layman, 6-foot-10 sophomore Damonte Dodd, 6-foot-9 senior Evan Smotrycz and 7-foot freshman Michal Cekovsky) and more players that can create offense than last season’s Huskies.

“They’re the real deal,” he said. “They’ve built it and they’re a little bit older than people realize. They’ve been down the road a little bit, and they’ve got some good young players playing.”

One of those star young players has been the 6-foot-3 Trimble, who ranks in the top 60 in the country in true shooting percentage, fouls drawn and free throw rate. He also leads Maryland in points, assists and minutes, with 16.1 points and 3.0 assists in 32.8 minutes per game.

And as the lone Terps consistent freshman starter on a team surrounded with veterans, Trimble drew comparisons to Indiana junior Yogi Ferrell on Wednesday. Ferrell was the Hoosiers’ lone freshman starter as well during the Hoosiers’ 2012-13 campaign in which they were ranked preseason No. 1.

“He can shoot a lot better than I could my freshman year,” Ferrell said. “But he was in the same situation as me being a freshman with a lot of veteran guys. I see a lot of similarities in that.”

Despite the similarities, though, the Hoosiers are aware of the challenge the Terps present. They can play through all five players on the court. They have a size advantage over the Hoosiers and have lost just twice this season.

But the Hoosiers are also confident they can match up with Maryland. And they hope it could result in their seventh straight win over a ranked opponent in Assembly Hall.

“I think we’re a very versatile team with a lot of guys that are very long, as do they,” sophomore Collin Hartman said. “I think that we’ll be able to match up well, with our game plan also, and everybody can play multiple positions for us which really, really helps with our schemes.

“But I think that we’re fully capable and ready to match up with them.”

(Photo credit: Leon Halip/Getty Images North America)

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  • JJ

    It’s going to be a good one…I hope the crowd gets the team fired up and we start out hot for a change. Rebounding will be the key to this game.

  • Hoosierkamp

    So pumped for 2nite. Go Hoosiers.

    Ferrel is going to shut down Melo enough…. can we move the ball well enough to get enough buckets against their D and hold our own on the glass?

    Lets hope. Feel good about tonight!

  • TomJameson

    One of my worries is that even if we slow down Melo, somebody else will have a career game against IU. Maryland is a team where any 5 players can really light it up. It will take a good effort on team defense to win this one. I think IU can do it, but it might come down to the “luck factor” to win this one (and the officiating lol).

  • ForeverIU

    Hey Tom, don’t start worrying. It’s too early. LOL!

  • Hoosierkamp

    Its a pick em game basically via the spread. I think we have a better shot than you think. Need Assembly Hall Factor to put us over the top

  • Gregory J. Haggard

    This team has found a way to win close games, and has only lost to very good teams, so I am optimistic.
    Maryland is very good, and has the personnel to give us fits on the perimeter, and down low.
    I hope the Hoosiers play with a bit of a chip on their shoulder.
    I am bound up with the Hoosiers on this one, I can already feel the excitement.
    To bad the game isn’t on until 9 PM.

  • N71

    IF…if we were to win this evening I’d have to think Tom Crean would enter into Coach of the Year candidacies. I can only think of one really bad game (MSU) all year. Wasn’t happy about Georgetown or Louisville but sometimes you loose to good teams. I may have questioned Crean’s talent in the past but never his work ethic and it would appear he’s still growing as a coach which is great for us.

  • Samuel P. Gaskins

    Maryland has us by more than two inches per player on height. We might be able to escape from lesser teams, but they are very athletic and play as a team. We need a superhuman effort on the boards and I just do not see our overcoming that difference.

  • Lance76

    DVR the Md vs MSU game and now have watched. Md is skilled but have noticed them with many moving screens and MSU has scored well when they get down the floor early. MSU forgot to cover Melo many times. Predict an epic game by both teams. AH should help! We are over due for one of our 3 point shooters to go off.

  • Doug

    We started out hot against Eastern Washington…..

  • Hoosier Hall

    I believe we are in for a barn burner tonight. It should come down to a one possession game and may go into overtime. The good thing is, if we win it’s a great win for us. If not, it’s not really a bad loss.

  • marcusgresham

    This team has progressed miles from where it was at that point in the season.

  • same goes the other way. We have 5 players who can light it up too. 🙂

  • kaponya44

    Well now….We did overcome it and then some….My favorite way to be wrong….Come on .Admit .It feels good.Lol

  • kaponya44

    Lol

  • Samuel P. Gaskins

    It feels great to have been that wrong. Rebounding was IU 28 Md 27. I truly enjoy only pulling down four offensive rebounds because when shooting 60% from the field, there just are not that many offensive rebounds to be had.

  • TomJameson

    Oh heck Forever, I have different levels of worry for all the remaining games! LOL

  • TomJameson

    You’re right Ocean. Of course, now that the game is over, we see Yogi with a career night, and Colin! Colin Hartman is one of my favorite players and I’m glad he had such a great night.

  • Hoosierkamp

    Ferrel Owned Melo. I think its fair to say this team is better than we all thought. That was fun. We wont go 12-19 from three again…. but we are exciting