Originally posted on The Terrapin Nation  |  Last updated 11/1/11

(Photo Credit: UMTerps.com) 

There is no denying that Gary Williams teams were some of the best coached in the country year-in and year-out during his 22 year tenure. Yet for all of Gary Williams accomplishments throughout his coaching career, his teams did at times have their flaws.

One of the most noticeable deficiencies throughout Gary Williams’ time in College Park, especially in recent years, was his teams lack of three-point attempts. As teams within the ACC like Duke seem to rely on the three-point shot more and more, Gary Williams chose to get his easy points elsewhere, like pressing and getting steals for easy lay-ups.

We took a look at Maryland’s three-point field goal attempts as a percentage of their total shots from the field as well as their percentage from behind the arc since 2003 and the numbers are eye opening.

Since 2003, the average Division 1 team shoots about thirty three percent of their total field goal attempts from beyond the arc. In that same time span, Maryland has shot only twenty five percent of their field goal attempts from three-point range.

Those numbers become even more stagering when you break them down and look at them on a yearly basis.

Last season for example, Maryland only took 21.9 percent of their total field goal attempts from beyond the three-point line. They ranked 342 out of 345 teams in Division 1 for three-point attempts as a percentage of total field goal attempts. In 2010, Maryland only took 24.7 percent of their shots from beyond the arc, this time ranking them 328 in the country. In fact, dating back to 2003, the Terps have finished 305 or worse in three-point attempts seven times. Not once in that time span did Maryland come even close to the national average of thirty three percent of field goal attempts from three-point land. Only four times did Maryland take over a quarter of their shots from three, the highest percentage of those being 27.8 in 2008.

Right about now many of you might be saying, “So what? Maryland was still successful even without utilizing the three-point shot.”

Well, in some years this was true, but there is absolutely a correlation between Maryland’s three-point shooting and their success on the court under Gary Williams.

Obviously, the number of three-point field goal attempts alone doesn’t give the full picture since taking those shots really only helps you if you make some of them. To that end, the average percentage of three-pointers made since 2003 has hovered right around 34.5 percent.

Gary Williams most successful teams in that span shot the ball extremely efficiently from beyond the arc. Since their national title in 2002, Maryland has won twenty one games or more four times: 2003, 2007, 2009 and 2010. Of those four teams, all but the 2009 team shot above thirty eight percent from three-point range. It becomes clear that while it wasn’t necessary for Maryland to shoot a high percentage of three-point shots, it was necessary for them to make a high percentage of those shots to be successful.

As an example, UConn’s 2004 national championship team only took 25.8 percent of their shots from three-point land, but they made a staggering 40.2 percent of those shots, good for seventh best in the nation that year.

In 2006 and 2007, Billy Donovan’s teams shot 39.2 and 40.9 percent from three-point land while while taking 34.8 and 34.0 percent of their total field goal attempts from beyond the arc. It goes without saying that those were two of the most dominant teams of the 2000′s.

So the question becomes, now that we have identified just how important the three point shot is, what can Maryland fans expect from Mark Turgeon going forward?

Well, based on the the numbers, both at Wichita State and Texas A&M, Maryland fans can expect a lot more three point attempts under Mark Turgeon than they were used to under Gary Williams. While Gary Williams did not have a single team that shot more than twenty eight percent of its shots from beyond the three-point line, Mark Turgeon’s teams in that span never took less than thirty percent (well, 29.9 to be exact) of their total field goal attempts from three-point land, averaging 33.5 percent of their total field goal attempts from beyond the arc.

The most pressing question this season will be whether or not Maryland more resembles Mark Turgeon’s Wichita State teams or his Texas A&M teams. At Wichita State, Mark Turgeon’s teams took significantly more three-point shots and made them at a much higher clip.

Turgeon’s Sweet Sixteen team in 2006 took thirty four percent of their field goal attempts from three-point range, making thirty seven percent of those attempts. In contrast, Maryland’s 2006 team shot only 21.5 percent of their field goal attempts from deep and made 36.8 percent of those attempts.

NCAA Basketball

To really break down just what those numbers mean, lets look at the adjusted tempo for each of those teams. In 2006, Wichita State had an adjusted tempo of 64.0, which means that Turgeon’s team averaged sixty four possessions per forty minutes of play. Using that number, Wichita State averaged 21.76 three-point attempts per game, making eight three-point baskets per game. In contrast, using Maryland’s adjusted tempo of 74.5, they averaged 15.9 three-point attempts per game and made 5.86 of those three-point attempts. That equals to twenty four points per game for Mark Turgeon’s team versus 17.58 points per game for Gary Williams’ team, or an additional 6.42 points per game. Again, using last seasons adjusted tempo numbers, Maryland averaged just 16.37 points per game via the three-point shot to Texas A&M’s 19.7 points per game.

NCAA Basketball Stats

Luckily, Mark Turgeon has some pieces in place that should help Maryland have success this season from beyond the arc. Terrell Stoglin had thirty three made three-pointers last season, shooting 35.9 percent from deep. With increased minutes this season, those numbers should only go up for Stoglin. Pe’Shon Howard also shot the ball extremely well from deep in limited minutes last season. Howard connected on twenty three of his three-point attempts, also shooting 35.9% from deep.

The wildcard could be Sean Mosley. The senior captain has connected for fourteen three-pointers made in each of the last two season. However, Mosley saw his percentage from three drop from 38.9 percent as a sophomore all the way down to 26.9 percent as a junior. If Mosley can get back to his sophomore season form it could be a huge boon for the Terps.

Of course you can’t forget about the freshman Nick Faust who possibly has the deepest shooting range on the team. Now standing at a 6-6 and looking to have added some bulk, Terps fans should have every reason to believe that Faust will be able to play a role for Mark Turgeon similar to that of Khris Middleton at Texas A&M. Middleton flourished in Mark Turgeon’s offensive system and is a unanimous preseason All-Big 12 selection going into this season. For Maryland to have any kind of success, Faust will need to duplicate or better the

Time will tell just how quickly this collection of players will pick up Turgeon’s motion offense, but given the lack of depth and talent he’s inherited, expect to see a lot more three-point attempts from this season’s Maryland team. And who knows, maybe for the first time in a long time, Maryland will utilize college basketball’s great equalizer to help them win some games.

Stats used in this article can be found at Kenpom.com and StatSheet.com. Any discrepancies in statistics are due to games versus non-division 1 opponents not being included in calculations by Kenpom.com. 

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