It’s been 23 years since Maryland last started 1-3. That 2000-01 Terrapins team won its next 10 games and eventually made it to the NCAA Final Four.
While that’s a challenging feat to match, Maryland (1-3) can take one step on that path on Tuesday when it faces UMBC (3-2) at home in College Park, Md.
This is not the start coach Kevin Willard mapped out, but playing three tough games away from home has shown the Terps where they need to improve.
The short answer is offense. The Terps are hitting just 36.6 percent of their shots overall and 21.6 percent from beyond the arc. Among Power 6 conference schools, those are the two worst figures in the nation.
“I’ve gotta come up with something quickly because the lineups out there aren’t complementing,” Willard said. “So that’s on me, and the offensive struggles are on me.”
The issues were most evident in a 57-40 loss Friday at then-No. 21 Villanova, a defeat which was actually worse than the score indicates. The Terps trailed by 32 at one point in the second half before scoring 23 cosmetic points in the final 12:13.
The shooting numbers for Maryland veterans Jahmir Young (13.3 points per game), Julian Reese (12.3 ppg) and Donta Scott (8.3 ppg) have been respectable.
But against Villanova, three freemen and Indiana transfer Jordan Geronimo missed all 12 of their 3-point attempts.
“This schedule has not been conducive to growing this team. That’s my fault,” Willard said.
UMBC has captured three straight, all at home, including a 94-79 victory over Loyola (Md.), as Devan Sapp and South Carolina Upstate transfer Khydarius Smith scored 18 points apiece.
Sophomore Dion Brown averages 14.2 points per game and leads UMBC in rebounds (5.6 per game) and assists (3.0 per game). Brown is one of the few returners from an 18-14 team that lost its top seven scorers from last season.
“We played him out of position his whole freshman year,” coach Jim Ferry said. “He’s a great creator, a tremendous athlete. He can make shots, finish around the basket.”