Sunday, February 17, 2008

Terps show up in second half

There was clearly some early hangover from the loss to Duke in the first half against Florida State. The Terps were lethargic and sloppy for much of the 1st half on both offense and defense. The Seminoles built an early lead mostly based on some torrid 3-point shooting (6/12) and some really poor defense on high screens. On offense the ball movement was weak and the cuts were not crisp which lead to few good looks at the basket. The mixture of zone and man-to-man defense the Seminoles employed did seem to bother the Maryland offense somewhat. The Terps did shoot fairly well from outside in for the game, including in the 1st half, but were just 6/16 from inside the arc. Early foul trouble for James Gist and Greivis Vasquez, who both picked up their 2nd fouls with 11 minutes to go in the 1st half, certainly didn't help.

Even with the early foul trouble Maryland was still hanging in the game with a miss mash of players off the bench. With Cliff Tucker out due to the flu Gary Williams had to get creative with some of his lineups. Adrian Bowie, Dave Neal, Shane Walker and even Jason McAlpin saw significant minutes in the 1st half. None of them did all that badly as Williams tried to ride out the 1st half with assorted foul trouble and a shorter bench. For a stretch of about 6 minutes these reserves actually outscored Florida State 8-5 and handed the game back to the starters with a slight lead. Shane Walker had some nice hustle plays including an offensive rebound that he took away from four Seminole players. Maryland played with offense/defense substitutions in the last few minutes but it was obvious how concerned Gary Williams was about the direction of the game as he had both Gist and Vasquez playing with two fouls. In the last couple of minutes some FSU spurted out to an eight point halftime lead by going on a 9-0 run. Three turnovers and a missed one-and-one were the worst of the end of half futility for Maryland.

To start the 2nd half things were totally different. Maryland stole the ball on FSU's opening possession of the half off a great sideline trap and Landon Milbourne was able to sink both his free throws after getting fouled. It was an auspicious start for the sophomore who would go on to set a personal scoring record. Greivis Vasquez then hit three 3-point baskets in a row and either scored or assisted on 11 of Maryland's first 15 points of the half. The result was a 11-2 Terrapin run that erased Florida State's lead. The Seminoles would never lead by more than a basket the rest of the game. The defensive pressure was much better in the 2nd half and forced FSU into four turnovers in the first four minutes. FSU seemed to go away from the perimeter shots that they took off the high screens in the 1st half. They only attempted four 3-point baskets in the first ten minutes after taking 12 in the first half. Instead they attacked the lane with pull up jumpers and layups off of their high screens. Bambale Osby was a big factor blocking shots in the lane and probably saved at least four points on sure layups with some great rejections. The Terp defenders also did a decent job of not fouling the shooters, which was wise since FSU is probably the best free throw shooting team in the league.

In the deciding stretch of the game you would expect Greivis Vasquez and James Gist to come up big for Maryland, and they certainly did a good job in the 2nd half with 27 points between the two of them, but Landon Milbourne really exploded offensively to clinch the victory. He scored 7 straight points with Maryland clinging to a four point lead with under six minutes to go in the game. He showed his ability to play inside and outside with a 3-pointer and a vicious one handed dunk on FSU's Uche Echefu. When Jason Rich went for the steal on the pass Milbourne reacted by going hard at the basket and Osby sealed off the lane. Those two points gave him a career high 18 for the game on 6/9 shooting. Milbourne is still learning how to play but this game was an example of what he could do if he can use all his tremendous skills. The smaller and quicker Rich gave him some trouble on defense but overall I thought Milbourne did well as Rich only shot 4/16 from the floor.

James Gist really struggled against Duke earlier in the week and was not playing great in the early going against FSU. He hung with it and hit some big 3-point baskets in transition that helped keep the pressure on FSU. He also did a better job getting to the rim with his shots not falling. The result was 10 free throws and allowed him to score 9 points from the line. He had a couple of big rebounds at the end of the game, even though he only had five for the day. Gist must play well for Maryland to be competitive with the better teams in the league, even with Shane Walker showing some improvement. That is a great deal of pressure for the senior but that is what you expect.

Vasquez was a little sloppy in the early going and let Tony Douglas get some early 3-point baskets. He settled down at halftime and scored 15 points in the second half, 9 in the first few minutes. After that he was great at moving the ball and getting good looks for his teammates. He had 8 turnovers to balance out his 8 assists in the game but you can't really complain about 7/9 shooting. He only had one really bad 3-point attempt. With Hayes really struggling the last few games Vasquez has been the most consistent guard on the team, even if he is mistake prone. Unless he has a large drop off in the next few weeks he has locked up an All-ACC selection.

While he wasn't doing very much on offense Eric Hayes did a great job grabbing defensive rebounds. He had seven for the game and had a number of them in the closing stretch of the win. Ralph Mims exploded for 26 points against Hayes but not all of it was his fault. The frontcourt did a much better job on the screens in the 2nd half.

Maryland still had some turnover issues but FSU is second only to Duke in steals in ACC play. Eleven of Maryland's 17 turnovers were steals, with Douglas and Mims both grabbing four apiece.

The Terps outscored FSU 50-32 in the 2nd half, much like they did in the NC State game. They shot 56% in the 2nd half including 6/9 from 3-point range. That was mostly due to great ball movement and spacing.

The Terps get a bruised Virginia Tech team which was routed by North Carolina on Saturday. It is hard to predict how the Hokies will respond but they seem to be running out of gas. Locals Malcolm Delaney and Jeff Allen may be pumped up to visit Comcast Center but this is a game that the Terps should win easily. Unless the 3-point defense collapses against the Hokies Maryland should be sitting at 8-4 going into a two game road trip.

Ratings
Offense: 119.3
Defense: 103.7

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