Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Virginia sinks Terps

The Cavaliers swept Maryland for the first time since 2003 and, more importantly, had the better team for the first time in over a decade. Dave Leatio has a pair of experienced and tough-as-nails guards in Sean Singletary and JR Reynolds while Maryland has a bunch of kids that Gary Williams can't count on from game to game. It wasn't just Virginia's superior guard play as Maryland's heralded frontcourt was thoroughly outplayed by the unappreciated scrappers on Leitao's squad.

Virginia coach Dave Leitao has been very successful in getting his players to buy into the style of play that has allowed them to win. Without supporting players like Jason Cain, Tunji Soroye, Mikalauskas the attention getting performances of Sean Singletary and JR Reynolds wouldn't amount to many wins. The frontcourt for Virginia often has more rebounds than field goal attempts. Unlike the Miami team from a year ago, which would get high scoring games from Robert Hite and Guillermo Diaz and still lose, Virginia has the kids willing to do the dirty work to help them win. The talent on their roster isn't very deep, not even as deep as Maryland, but the parts on their team fit well together.

Rebounding and half court defense were problems again. Virginia crushed Maryland on the glass again for a +13 rebound margin and a dominating 18 offensive rebounds. There were several 2nd half possessions by Virginia that lasted over a minute with multiple offensive rebounds allowing several shot attempts. The frontcourt did a terrible job blocking out and the backcourt continues to be one of the worst defensive rebounding groups in the ACC. Singletary, who might be six feet tall if he stands on a stack of phone books, grabbed eight rebounds. Mike Jones and DJ Strawberry had four rebounds between them.

By the time Maryland raised the level of its half court defense Virginia was already sitting on a solid double digit lead. After getting torched for 51% shooting in the first half they recovered and held Virginia to 32% shooting in the 2nd half. They also were able to limit Virginia to 25% from 3-point range to continue their league leading rate. Sean Singletary had a rather pedestrian game against Maryland yet Reynolds was able to come through with 23 points. Still, the lapses in the first half put Maryland in a hole which they could not climb out.

The offense struggled in the first half and only shot 36% while missing a number of point blank shots in the lane. The game was called rather loosely which hurt Maryland and prevented them from getting to the line very often, having only 15 attempts (compared to Virginia's 45 attempts in the last game). Not that the Terps took advantage hitting only 8 attempts for 53%, including a few front end of one-and-one's.

James Gist and Ekene Ibekwe both struggled as they often do when there is physical play in the post. Ibekwe was practically worthless as Tunji Soroye dominated him for most of the night. DJ Strawberry tried to carry the offense as much as he could with 11 points, 5 assists and 4 steals, but he doesn't have the offensive skills to make up for lapses by other players. Mike Jones may have scored 18 points but blew a dunk and layup that he should have converted and allowed another Virginia roll player in Adrian Joseph to score 13 points on 5-7 shooting.

Greivis Vasquez scored 13 points in the first half and didn't score again. He was out of control at points in the game and was limited to 14 minutes in the second half. He played very physical defense on Singletary but needs to do less yapping and taunting. It is getting a little out of hand.

Eric Hayes hit a big 3-point shot to pull Maryland within 2 points at 65-63 and didn't turn the ball over all game, while amassing 4 assists but disappeared at times before that.

The bench contributed nothing during the game as Will Bowers was considered a matchup problem and Bambale Osby was yanked after a few mistakes and played one minute in the 2nd half. Gary Williams misused the bench with four starters logging 30+ minutes and sticking with the starters too long as Virginia built a lead. I get the feeling that Williams doesn't seem to know what the answer is in regards to his rotation. Many of his moves in this game, including inserting Dave Neal for a few minutes, speak more to desperation than deliberation.

With Maryland sliding into the NIT abyss again this season it is fitting that the Duke Blue Devils come to Comcast with what may be the coup de grace to this Terrapin team.

In other news Sporting News Mike DeCoursey debunks the "last 10" NCAA selection criteria.

1 comment:

BUlaw said...

I just wish GW would bench Ibekwe and Jones and I don't mean playing them 20 minutes instead of 30, I mean 5 minutes or less. There are no consequences for poor effort and performance on this team. These seniors seem to have no internal motivation or pride, therefore they need to be benched and younger playes like Milbourne, Hayes and Osby should be given more minutes. Maybe once the team has been eliminated from NCAA consideration GW will finally take the action that is necessary to cut his losses and start building for next year.