Actually, I like the Delaware beaches very much but I always thought that Wayne's World skit was funny. Yes, yes, the game.
The poor 2nd half left a bad taste in my mouth, but surprisingly Gary Williams didn't sound too angry about the spotty play that allowed Delaware State to shave 13 points off Maryland's halftime lead by the 10 minute mark. Perhaps he wasn't so perturbed because the defense in the 1st half was so dominating that he must have been giddy at the half. Delaware State only shot 25% in the first half and went to the break with 13 points. They won the MEAC last season and are one of the favorites again this year so they are no pushover in spite of their 2-9 record. All but one of those games was on the road and both Michigan and UCLA struggled to score against their variation of the Princeton offense. It was the first time Maryland was held to under 70 points this season but Maryland still shot a very nice 46% from the floor.
Nik Caner-Medley had a fantastic game. I've been very critical of Nik but felt if he changed the way he played and his shot selection he would be a better player. So far this year both things have happened. He's becoming a true leader on the floor and is doing a great job picking his spots. His scoring may be down from last year but he is playing a much better all around game. He is now passing up open perimeter shots and driving to the basket, where he is converting as well as anyone on the team save Ibekwe. His effort on defense is light years ahead of where it was last season. He'll never be a great defender but his 5 steals last night attest to his renewed dedication to defense. Those who would clamor for Mike Jones to get Nik's minutes need to sit down with a tape of the game and watch their respective play. If you still feel that way afterwards we need to get you some help.
Ekene Ibekwe continues to improve as well. He notched his second straight double-double and fourth straight double digit scoring performance. He's shooting at a 55% clip from the floor and a respectable 67% from the foul line. Ibekwe's emergence is in no small measure due to his ability to stay out of foul trouble this year. In the game last night he passed up a chance to swat at a wing player who came in for a layup, realizing that the basket was not worth him picking up another foul and his value to the team was more important. He has emerged as the most reliable post player for Maryland.
Unless there is some practice issue I still don't understand why Travis Garrison is starting over James Gist. He rebounds a little better than Gist but that is about the extent of his advantage. Gist is far more athletic and active on defense and offense. Travis had another of his notorious slow starts last night when he went 1-6 for 2 points in his first 15 minutes on the floor. Yet Gary Williams insists on starting him game after game. Perhaps Gist isn't earning it in practice but Maryland has a much better chance to go deep into the postseason if Gist is starting by the middle of January. Garrison's offense consists of three basic moves: baseline jumpers, a fade away from the middle of the lane and the spot up jumper from the foul line. That's it. He doesn't get to the foul line much, only one attempt per 5.6 minutes, and for someone with a nice shooting touch has terrible hands.
The Terps are still turning the ball over way too often, with 17 last night. The half court trap that Delaware State went to in the 2nd half gave the Maryland guards some real trouble. Expect ACC coaches to study that film. The guards need to do a better job of passing before the double team collapses on them.
James Gist scored 8 points while only shooting 2 field goal attempts last night. That's what good foul shooting will do for you.
Chris McCray was benched for being late to a team meeting. I love Chris but a senior team captain shouldn't be oversleeping.
Around the ACC
NC State has to have a $5 ticket promotion from Harris Teeter to sell out a Friday night game against 12th ranked George Washington.
Clemson lost in its first real test of the season at Georgia 72-69 but the worse news is that PF James Mays, their leading rebounder and best post presence, has become academically ineligible for the rest of the season. Clemson will become even more guard and perimeter oriented. Unfortunately their outside shooting has been a weak spot all season.
Boston College will get 6-10 Sean Williams back from his drug arrest suspension in time for ACC play. It remains to be seen what kind of shape Williams is in, but his defense and shot blocking are desperately needed by the Eagles.
Air Force is now 2-0 versus the ACC with wins over Miami and Georgia Tech. They defeated the Yellow Jackets last night 54-46. Air Force is a solid squad that will have a great chance at an NCAA bid. Georgia Tech will be in for a rough year, but the talented youngsters will pull off an upset or two.