What Kevin Willard said after Maryland basketball’s win vs. Mount St. Mary’s

Maryland picked up its 47th consecutive season-opening home win and 12th consecutive opening win after defeating Mount St. Mary’s, 68-53, on Monday night. While Julian Reese shined early, freshman DeShawn Harris-Smith was able to showcase his immediate impact on the defensive floor with a pair of steals and a block in the opening minutes of the game before finishing with a game-high ten points at the break. Harris-Smith would be one of three Terps in double figures, alongside Jahmir Young (12) and Julian Reese (game-high 18), as the Terps shot nearly 50% from the floor.

Maryland held the Mountaineers to just 35.6% shooting in the win, including 30% from the field in the first half, while forcing 14 turnovers. Everything that Maryland head coach Kevin Willard said following the win:

On going into his bench

“I got a lot of work to do with that, to be honest with you. That’s the first time we’ve had eleven guys able to play. So I felt like I spent too much time trying to sub and not enough time trying to figure some things out. So I’ve got a lot of work to do with that.”

On Donta Scott’s second-half scoring

“Trying to move Donta to the three and play Jordan [Geronimo] at the same time. I’m doing that because I feel there’s four or five teams in the Big Ten that I think we’re going to have to play a little bit bigger. It’s tough to play against smaller teams sometimes when you’re bigger.  So, but I think Donta, again, I think he played great. I just gotta get him more involved in the offense and that’s a tough lineup for me to do that.”

On impression of the freshmen

I thought the freshman played phenomenal. I thought that was much better than I anticipated. Jamie playing 15 minutes. Obviously DeShawn playing the minutes he played. Even Mady [Traore] going out there and it’s really his first college game. He had three guys, four guys out there playing their first college game. I thought they did fantastic, especially from a defensive standpoint. They were in the right spots. They made the right rotations. They didn’t hurt us defensively. Offensively they’re gonna have their struggles and they’re gonna have games when they play really well. But I thought all three of them played really well.”

On first impressions of the defense

“What I think what I was most impressed with is the fact that going into the game, we knew from the box scores, their two exhibitions, they had taken a ton of threes. And even going back to last year, they were a very heavy three-point shooting team. So, for your first real scouting report, we didn’t scout Virginia, we didn’t scout Cincinnati. For them to lock in, chase the right guys off the line. I mean, Dakota Leffew is a really, really good, good player.  For him to go 3-for-14 and have a freshman on most of the game just shows that they were locked in and I think that’s what, if they can keep that all year long and get better on the offensive end, that’s really good for us.”

On how F Jordan Geronimo fared in his debut

“Trying to figure out how to get Donta and Jordan involved when they’re both out there is something that, again, we’ve only worked with that lineup this week in practice. So Jordan needs to get more involved in [the] offense. He needs to be a little bit more active on the offensive end, but that’s my job to kind of get him more involved.  Again, first time him playing for me, I was really happy with the way he played.”

On what he takes away from Maryland’s defensive performance

“Cal’s only been practicing for a week. Noah was out for three weeks. Jamie was out for four days. Braden’s been out, Mady’s been out. Everyone’s been taking their turn. So for them to be as connected as they were, we had some big breakdowns at times, but again, for them to be connected on what we were trying to do, that’s what I find encouraging.”

On Maryland’s 15 turnovers in the win

“We’ve struggled with that so far. Our two scrimmages, we had I think, Cincinnati, we had 16 turnovers. Virginia, we had 15 turnovers. Again, we’re working a lot through Julian. So, Ju with zero assists. I think Julian is probably one of the best college basketball players out there right now. His free throws will get better. He shot them. He made 22 in a row this morning at 7:30 in the morning. Maybe we’ve got to shoot him a little bit later in the afternoon. But we have to take better care of the ball. I didn’t think we were good in transition. I thought we took some bad shots in transition. And we just can’t turn it over that many times.”

On Julian Reese’s four fouls in the win

“The first one was a moving screen, which big guys are going to get a moving screen. His second one was an offensive foul, which was kind of, I don’t know about that one. And his fourth one was a hook foul, which I don’t know about that one either. His third one was my fault. He shouldn’t have been in the game so he really should only had two fouls going into the second half and would have made a big difference. I love the fact that he didn’t get any, the ones he got in trouble with last year were getting tangled up on a rebound, getting a cheap one there. I thought all four of them, all four of them were earned at least today. And his third one was my fault. He should never have been in the game. That’s just me being bad.”

On DeShawn Harris-Smith’s ability to create scoring

“I think as freshmen get more comfortable in the way college basketball is played, I think he, again, I was really happy with the way he played defensively. Just again, offensively, it’s just going to take him a little time to just get a little bit more comfortable. I think as the first half went on, he kind of slowed down a little bit just because he wore himself out, which is not a bad thing for him and really made some great plays. So I, again, I think as freshmen play more games…I must have watched 15 games yesterday and it was amazing to see every freshman kind of go through the same thing. They show glimpses of greatness and then you look out there and you realize that they’re a freshman for a reason. So the more he just gets settled in, the more he gets in game shape. I think that’s the biggest thing for freshmen is they could play 32 minutes in high school and then go play another game in an AAU game and then all of a sudden you come out and you play at this level with the crowd with this. It’s just a totally different experience, so it usually takes them five or six games to kind of get their sea legs, and I think Deshawn’s one of those kids that he’s such a smart player, he’s such a competitive player that it’s gonna happen to him quicker.”

On what he wants to see from DeShawn Harris-Smith

He’s plus 22. I think the biggest thing for him is just finding where to be a little bit more aggressive with the basketball. He’s out there with [Jahmir Young], he’s out there with Julian, he’s out there with Donta. He’s playing with three seniors. So I think his next step is just understanding when is it my turn to go and when is it my time to get relaxed and just hang out. I think that’s the biggest thing for him.”

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