Some Thoughts On The 'D'
On the whole, the Terps' defense has been fairly stingy this season. Sure, it's still early, and that very well may chance come ACC season, but it's at least worth pointing out a development that could prove crucial (if it holds).
Last season, Maryland recorded 225 steals and caused its opponents an average of 14.2 turnovers per game. That all sounds wonderful until you realize Maryland's foes tallied 316 steals against the Terps and forced the Terps into an average of 16.8 turnovers per game. The turnover differential can be in the difference between a win and a loss in some close games.
Through nine games this year (roughly one-fourth of the schedule), Maryland has recorded 67 steals, which puts the Terps on pace for 268. The Terps also are forcing opponents into 16.4 turnovers per game and have caused more turnovers (148) than they have given up (112).
Again, the Terps schedule so far has not been as consistently challenging as it will be once conference play begins, but those numbers still would seem to portend a positive trend. Maryland is taking better care of the ball and has really been forcing the issue on defense.
Gary Williams has said many times over the past few months that his team's perimeter defense will be paramount to its success this season based on the team's questionable defensive presence in the post. Even with the improved play of Landon Milbourne and the surprising surge of Dino Gregory, the Terps still must be strong on the perimeter on defense in order to take pressure off those two guys, as well as Dave Neal, in the interior.
Greivis Vasquez is leading the team with 16 steals, which puts him on pace for 64. Last season, he led the team with 47 steals.
Will all these numbers hold? Probably not. Chances are, Maryland will turn the ball over more and force less steals during ACC play, but that should be expected. However, if the Terps can manage to end the season with more steals and less turnovers than their opponents, the chances that they will have had a successful year increase dramatically.
One final tidbit of positive news for all you Terps fans out there: Even in defeat this season, Maryland (7-2) has taken better care of the ball (as far as statistics indicate, that is) than its opponents.
In an 81-59 loss to Gonzaga, Maryland turned the ball over fewer times (13-15), while creating the same number of steals (six) as the Bulldogs.
In a 75-48 loss to Georgetown, Maryland also turned the ball over fewer times (13-16), but only forced one steal (the Hoyas tallied a whopping three steals).
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