COLLEGE PARK, MD.-- All season, Maryland basketball coaches talked about how little the margin of error is for this Terps team. For a young, rebuilding squad, that means winning in the hustle categories.
In particular, we're talking about offensive rebounding.
In last night's 70-64 win over Wake Forest, the Terps attacked the offensive glass, hauling in 21 offensive rebounds to just 10 for Wake Forest. Maryland forwards Ashton Pankey and James Padgett each brought down six offensive boards, an impressive total for two players that each played about 20 minutes.
"It was huge," Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said of the rebounding effort. "It was Pankey in the first half and Padgett in the second half. They both had great attitudes."
As the Maryland lead dwindled down the stretch in the second half, crucial offensive rebounds from Padgett gave a struggling Terps team the chance for longer possessions. The offensive rebounds led to 17 second-chance points for Maryland. Wake only scored 11 second-chance points, and that six-point difference ended up being the final margin for the game.
Padgett said that the team works hard on both ends of the floor to attack the glass, but offensive rebounding is more about desire and continuous movement. To grab a defensive rebound is more technique and boxing out, according to the 6'8" Brooklyn native. To grab an offensive board requires the right attitude.
"For the offensive rebound, we just know that you got to go get it," Padgett said after the game. "I wanted to play a better game today. We just try to do our best to offensive rebound."
Maryland won the overall rebounding battle against Wake Forest 45-37, and Wake is not a small team. Rebounding could prove a very important metric for this team, as Maryland improved to 9-1 in games which they beat the opponent to the glass.
Acknowledging the Maryland hustle, Wake Forest players said that rebounding made the difference in the game.
"It's all about rebounding," Wake Forest forward Travis McKie, who led all scorers with 25 points, said. "They had the second chance opportunities. If we give a team like that second chances, they're going to drive the ball and they're going to draw fouls."
It's not all about rebounding, but the same qualities that allowed the Terps to secure offensive rebounds helped in other areas. Wake's C.J. Harris came into the game the second-leading scorer in the ACC behind Maryland's Terrell Stoglin, but Terps defenders held Harris to 10 points, well below his 18 per-game average. Harris gave Maryland credit for their tenacity.
"You've got to give hats to them for being aggressive," Harris said. "Just plays like offensive rebounds, turnovers here and there just happened at the wrong time."
We've gotten this far and we haven't mentioned starting center Alex Len, who has been a revelation early in his career. Len did not play his best game on Wednesday. He scored only five points and grabbed two rebounds, but Len's impact goes well beyond the box score.
"His inside presence is a plus for us," Sean Mosley said after the game.
Mosley, who had 15 points for the Terps in the win, explained that Len's passing ability and offensive game make weak-side defenders come off their man to play help-side defense, which helps open up the glass.
"Once [Len] makes a play, the weak side big man always comes over and tries to get a block," Mosely said. "That's why James [Padgett] was able to get a lot of offensive rebounds tonight for us. [Len] definitely drew a lot of attention. He definitely helped us out."
Regardless who actually grabs the rebound, the Terps will need to keep the effort on the offensive glass to continue winning as they face a tough ACC schedule. Maryland is the only team in the conference scheduled to play a home-and-home series with all three ranked ACC teams: North Carolina, Duke and Virginia.
"I'm trying to build a program that will be really good down the road," Turgeon said. "They know they're getting better."