Michigan leaves Maryland's Mark Turgeon impressed, again: 'They can win the whole thing'

James Hawkins
The Detroit News

Ann Arbor — For the second time in four weeks, Maryland coach Mark Turgeon didn’t have any answers.

In the first meeting against Michigan on Dec. 31 in College Park, freshman center Hunter Dickinson abused his one-on-one matchups in the post, pounded the Terrapins to the tune of 26 points and powered the Wolverines to an 11-point win.

Maryland coach Mark Turgeon

In Tuesday’s rematch, Turgeon devised a new plan and took a page out of Minnesota’s book by doubling Dickinson every time he touched the ball. Dickinson was held in check and finished with three points on three shots, but this time Michigan continuously found open shooters and got hot from outside to roll to an 87-63 victory.

Different strategy, same result.

“They’re really hard to guard,” Turgeon said. “Low post, if you don’t double them, they score on you. If you double them, they can shoot 3s.

"They're really good in the half court. They got guys that know the offense and are running it. They're good on the break. They're really good. They're good enough to win the whole thing.”

After struggling to read the defense and take care of the ball against Minnesota’s double-teams, the Wolverines and Dickinson focused on making the right decisions and the right passes in practice.

Time and again on Tuesday, Dickinson kicked the ball out and the Wolverines swung it around the perimeter to take advantage of the 4-on-3 opportunities.

"Just be patient and not let other teams rush us or push the pace up for us when we get doubled,” junior forward Brandon Johns Jr. said. “Just be calm, be patient, control the ball, control your pass, control your mind, control yourself and just make a smart play.

"I think when we rush into things, it flusters our mind a little bit. We start making hectic decisions and that's how turnovers (happen). The more we're calm, the more we're relaxed, the more we trust in ourselves and our teammates, obviously the results are in our favor.”

That showed from the start as the Terrapins had a difficult time finding a balance between containing Dickinson and rotating to limit Michigan’s long-range looks.

The Wolverines made their first five 3-pointers to open a 14-point lead less than six minutes into the game, finished 12-for-24 from beyond the arc and assisted on 20 of their 29 made field goals.

“They were making everything the first six minutes," Maryland guard Darryl Morsell said. "We were there. Some of the stuff was out of our control.

“It was hard, it's really hard. They've surrounded a pretty good post guy with great shooters. They found their rhythm early. It's evident how good they are. They beat Wisconsin in here by (23 points) and Minnesota in here (by 25 points)."

Grad transfer guard Mike Smith set the offensive tone with three early 3-pointers and senior forward Isaiah Livers led the 3-point barrage by going 4-for-5 from deep. Yet, Livers credited the extra attention Dickinson commanded for creating his clean looks, while Michigan coach Juwan Howard noted the big man only cares about winning, not his stats.

That unselfish style of play has fueled Michigan’s balanced and versatile attack that can beat teams in a variety of ways, as Turgeon has experienced firsthand.

“They didn't shoot it like that on Saturday, but they shot it like that (Tuesday),” Turgeon said. “It's tough. It's really tough. That (Franz) Wagner kid is just getting better and better every game. He's terrific. They play at a good pace. They share the ball. They had a size advantage across the board, expect for point guard. They're hard to guard.

“The thing that makes them even more special is how well they guard defensively and how locked in they are into their game plan defensively, how quickly they adjust defensively. They made some quick adjustments out there. They've beaten the heck out of everybody in this building.”

Tuesday’s victory marked Michigan’s sixth Big Ten win by double digits and sixth time shooting at least 50% in conference play. Against Maryland, the Wolverines shot better than 51% from the floor and scored at least 84 points in the two meetings, which both rank among the three highest marks the Terrapins have allowed this season.

After last month's encounter, Turgeon called Michigan a Final Four-caliber team. Following Tuesday’s beatdown, he doubled down on that.

“I think they have three or four pros, NBA guys out there. I think they can win the whole thing,” Turgeon said. “They’ve got all the pieces. They can go big. They can go small. They can do whatever they want. Guys are bought into their roles. It could be a special year for them if they get hot at the right time.”


Twitter: @jamesbhawkins