Mar 20, 2015; Columbus, OH, USA; Maryland Terrapins forward Jake Layman (10) shoots over Valparaiso Crusaders forward Jubril Adekoya (23) as Valparaiso Crusaders head coach Bryce Drew reacts during the first half in the second round of the 2015 NCAA Tournament at Nationwide Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports
Jake Layman has been one of Maryland’s best and most consistent players all season long. But, where was Layman last night? He was harder to find than Waldo.
The 6-foot-9 junior forward was averaging 12.6 points and 5.9 rebounds per game for the season, so one would expect him to play a big role in Maryland’s win over Valparaiso on Friday. It was quite the contrary, however. Layman only attempted one shot from the field, a missed three-pointer. He finished with four points, all from the free throw line, and five rebounds, before fouling out late in the second half.
Layman is a guy that NBA scouts believe has the potential to be a first-round pick in the upcoming draft. What makes him so good, is his ability to stretch the floor and he does a good job running the floor for his size. But, best believe those same scouts were taking note of his lackluster performance last night. Granted, every good player is entitled to an off night or two, but not on the biggest stage in the NCAA Tournament.
So how can Layman get it going the next time out? Well, it starts with him being more aggressive. A future “pro prospect” should not get a pass for taking only one shot in any game. Not to knock Valparaiso, which is a very talented team, but he has put up better numbers against superior opponents. Assertiveness has been a question in his game throughout the course of the season. Melo Trimble and Dez Wells are the clear leaders of this team, but Layman has also done so much to get the Terps to this point.
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He has too much skill to not be aggressive on the offensive end. By aggressive, I don’t mean settling for tough jumpshots. I’m talking driving and attacking the rim, drawing fouls. By getting to the stripe, maybe he’ll be able get some type of rhythm going after seeing a few shots go down for him. Yes, Wells and Trimble are great players, but Layman obviously is no slouch either. If he has a mismatch, he needs to take advantage of it.
Layman also needs to be active of the defensive end of the floor. Good defense turns into offense, so if he straps up defensively, the Terps should be able to capitalize on those efforts on the other end. Layman has great length, so he can definitely cause some problems for West Virginia in the Round of 32. Maryland will need him to alter shots and help defend the perimeter against a Mountaineer team that can really stroke it from deep.
Valparaiso took the Terps down to the wire in the last round and now they have to battle a tough and physical West Virginia team. Maryland cannot afford to get another poor performance from Jake Layman. If he doesn’t show up for this one, their deep tournament run may end abruptly. Scouts will be wondering where the player they watched in the regular season went.
In a sense, I’m calling him out, but it means nothing coming from me. His teammates and coaches need to do it. I mean, someone has to. Layman must put this performance behind him and have a short memory. This Maryland basketball team has the opportunity to do something special in this tournament, but their success relies heavily on their third star.