Monday, December 07, 2009

Zone double edged sword

Maryland made a furious rally in the 2nd half against Villanova but was undone by the poor defense in the 1st half and the ridiculous 23 offensive rebounds they gave up to a Villanova team that lacks a very good big man. The zone defense that Gary Williams has taken to using showed some of the same problems it did against Wisconsin, namely a fatal vulnerability to offensive rebounds and a tendency to force the Terps into foul trouble. Maryland had 17 2nd half fouls and even if you account for the handful of intentional fouls at the end of the game Villanova was still in double bonus early in the half which helped them shoot 25 free throws in the 2nd half, making 19 of them. Against foes like Villanova and Wisconsin, veteran teams that understand spacing and have the ability to dribble penetrate, the perimeter defenders for Maryland have significant trouble keeping the dribbler out of the lane. The Badgers and Wildcats exploited the lack of athleticism of Eric Hayes and Grievis Vasquez on the wings of the zone and then followed by either going to the basket or drawing the help defense and kicking to an open shooter. Maryland will have to significantly improve their zone defense before ACC play starts. It is lucky for the Terps that the ACC isn't stacked with great guards like Wisconsin's Trevon Hughes or Villanova's Scottie Reynolds.

I'll have a more complete write up on the game soon but here are several thoughts I had in the aftermath of the loss.

Williams is playing the starters too much again this year. Eric Hayes played 39 minutes, Milbourne 34 (even with foul trouble), Sean Mosley 37 and Jordan Williams played 30. Vasquez was limited to 27 with early foul issues. I can see trying to ride Williams and Mosley who were having career nights but this cannot continue. Cliff Tucker and Adrian Bowie have not played well but they have to be a bigger part of the rotation. Maryland's bench only scored 5 points to Nova's 22 and the playing time of the starters was a big factor in that.

Gary Williams called out several players after the loss. He didn't name names but he said there were clearly some players who felt like last season should just carry over to this year and have not worked hard enough. He also said that too many players were whining about getting calls from the officials and that they needed to learn that respect is earned not just given. My guess is he was talking about his seniors since none of them really played all that well. Should make for an interesting week at practice.

Mosley and Jordan Williams were great. You could make an argument that they were the two best players at their positions in the game. Williams dominated the Villanova big men in the 2nd half and either fouled his man out of the game or put him on the bench with foul trouble. Mosley seemed to score from inside and outside at will and Villanova really couldn't do much to stop him. If it was a sign of things to come Maryland has found a true weapon to go along with Vasquez.


Anonymous said...

Once again, we expect big things from a team of mostly mid-level talent, not that Gary doesn't try for better players, but they aren't coming. Goins, Jin Soo, and the walk-on should not be taking space on this team. Cliff tucker shows flashes, but really a mid-major player. Vasquez is pretty good, usually inconsistent, not a lot of athletic ability, usually shut down by the better players in the league. And Milbourne - I don't think his breakout season is ever coming. So, 500 in the league, if we're lucky

Esquire said...

The talent level isn't where it needs to be clearly but with players like Mosley and Jordan Williams that is changing. Compare that duo to Eric Hayes and Jerome Burney or Tucker and Dino Gregory. Big improvement in the talent level.

Vasquez certainly is inconsistent and prone to slumps but I would hardly say he gets "shut down" by better players. In four games against UNC and Wake, who had the most talented backcourts in the league, he averaged 21.5 points.