Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Tigers blitz Terps

It seems that the theme of this season is ACC opponents setting records for margin of victory against Maryland. Duke bested a 46 year old record when the defeated Maryland by 41 points earlier in the season, 85-44. Last night Clemson blitzed Maryland with 59 2nd half points to record their most lopsided win over Maryland ever, 93-64 for a 29 point margin.  It was embarrassing how easily Clemson dispatched the Terps in the 2nd half. Going into halftime with a six point deficit even though the shooting woes returned I would have thought Gary Williams might try to go with a small ball approach. If not for Clemson's offensive struggles in the 1st half it would not have been that close. Give the team credit for hanging in the game but the slim six point halftime margin was a bit of an illusion. Once again the Terps couldn't hit even simple layups as Sean Mosley and Cliff Tucker missed point blank shots with no defender in the vicinity. The lack of an inside presence certainly hurts this group but in essence this team is a jump shooting team that lacks good jump shooters. When the shots are not falling, like last night, this group is libel to get blown out by a good team. Last night marked the fourth time they had lost by 20 or more points this season which is the most since 1992-1993 when Maryland went 2-14 in the ACC. There are still games against Duke, North Carolina and Wake Forest so I wouldn't be surprised if that mark was broken as well.

There wasn't a single player who had a good game from my perspective. Landon Milbourne lead the team in scoring but he and Dave Neal were exposed by Clemson's interior game. When Maryland doubled down, a strategy that mystifies me against a team like Clemson or North Carolina that can hit those shots, that left players like Andre Young, Demontez Stitt and David Potter open. Those three along with reserve Tanner Smith hit 9 of 15 3-point shots. It would have been a better strategy to trade two points from Trevor Booker than give up all those perimeter shots. Based on the post game comments I don't think Gary Williams has come around to that reality yet. By the efficiency numbers it was the worst defensive game of the season, even worse than the Georgetown or Duke blowouts. The fact that Clemson shot 68% from the floor in the 2nd half is mind boggling. Suddenly the interior and perimeter defense is a grave concern. Maryland's opponents now have a collection of conference games to watch and they have picked out weak points in the Terp's defense. On offense the shot selection was terrible by the entire team and they lost their poise early in the 2nd half when their shots stopped falling.

None of the guards played all that well. Greivis Vasquez was too sloppy with the ball and didn't make the best decisions often driving into the teeth of the Clemson defense. His 1st half play kept Maryland close for a time but it wasn't enough to stem the tide in the 2nd half. He looked lost on defense, like most of his teammates, but did have a number of assists that were bungled by teammates. Adrian Bowie played decently but did miss three of five free throws. Sean Mosley struggled to get anything going against a physical Clemson interior but did guard Terrence Oglesby who actually had a fairly bad game going 5/16 from the floor including a 2/10 stinker from behind the 3-point line. Cliff Tucker showed that his 18 point outburst against UNC was a fluke and he continues to struggle finishing around the basket. His defense was marginal at best.

Eric Hayes was a non-factor in the game until he hit a few garbage time 3-point shots. He didn't score until under four minutes left in the game and with Maryland trailing by 28. It was as if he wasn't even there. His perimeter defense was atrocious.

Jerome Burney played well in limited minutes and I wouldn't be surprised if he pushed Dino Gregory for playing time in the coming weeks.

Of the four game collection of Clemson, UNC, Duke and Wake Forest you hope that Maryland would steal one of those games and then take their chances on the road with N.C. State and Virginia. That would get them to 8-8 with a possible NCAA bid depending on the rest of the field. 

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