Thursday, February 18, 2010

Terps claw out win

It looked as if all the speculation regarding the fact that Maryland had to play three games in five days resulting in a disadvantage might actually have some merit for the first 20 minutes of the game against N.C. State. The Terps looked lethargic and unemotional in letting a pathetic Wolfpack team run out to a 10 point halftime lead. Outside of Greivis Vasquez and Jordan Williams the rest of the team did little on offense and the defensive effort was horrendous. Once again offensive rebounds by State were a big factor in helping them to a halftime lead as they grabbed 7 offensive boards in the 1st half. Dennis Horner took advantage of Landon Milbourne on the defensive end scoring 9 points and grabbing 6 rebounds in only 12 minutes. Not that the rest of the team did a good job on defense as they allowed the Wolfpack to shoot 44% for the half. Gary Williams was calling time outs and vacillating between apoplectic fits and disgust but nothing seemed to be working. He referred to the haltime locker room as “intense” in one of his signature understatements. Lucky for this team he seems to have a bunch that respond well to his explosions. Jordan Williams missed a few assignments in the 1st half but kept his head in the game and along with Vasquez carried the team to a victory.

The Terps didn’t come out like gangbusters to start the 2nd half as they went down by 12 within the first three minutes. The Terps traded baskets before the critical stretch of the game with 14:17 left and down by 10 at 46-36 Adrian Bowie made a layup to spark a 17-5 run for Maryland. Bowie seemed to gain confidence with his shot and scored 8 points in that decisive five minutes, including two 3-point shots. I’m sure State didn’t feel that Bowie was a threat from the outside and with his 24% shooting from outside coming into the game I can’t blame them. It was impressive that in such a clutch moment Bowie was able to take advantage of the opportunities he was presented.

With 8:21 left Greivis Vasquez drained a 3-point basket to give Maryland a 53-51 lead that they would not relinquish. From that point on Vasquez scored 10 points and Jordan Williams scored 5 points and grabbed four rebounds. Of Maryland’s final 17 points of the game Sean Mosley was the only other player to score on two free throws when State was forced to foul. As I wrote earlier Williams rebounded from a 1st half where he struggled like everyone else to finish with 19 points and 11 rebounds and provide some real low post scoring punch. Unlike seniors Eric Hayes (zero points) and Landon Milbourne (4/11 shooting) who never really got on track the freshman showed impressive poise in pivotal moments. Williams doesn’t seem to be showing any signs of hitting the freshman wall. Indeed his minutes, points and shooting percentage are all rising. Since the game at Clemson Williams is averaging 10.1 points and 9 rebounds a game while shooting 58% from the floor. He did this against the likes of Trevor Booker, Solomon Alabi, Ed Davis and Tracy Smith. Not too shabby.

Maryland did make some defensive adjustments in the 2nd half by deciding to pack in their defense since State went 2/11 from outside the arc in the 1st half. That eliminated many of the dribble penetrations that were scattering Maryland’s defense and allowing offensive rebounds. The press that Maryland employed didn’t result in steals but did get the Wolfpack to increase their tempo which resulted in some poor shots and unforced turnovers. The Terps have not had much success with their press all season but in this particular game it did have some peripheral benefits. You wouldn’t know that Maryland was the team on short rest from the box score as Sidney Lowe had a ridiculous 44 substitutions in the game compared to just 26 for Maryland. That probably contributed to the lack of continuity that plagued N.C. State in the 2nd half. Lowe also found no way to get his best player, Tracy Smith, involved in the game. Maryland was doubling Smith, as they did in the last game, but having Farnold Degand, Scott Wood and Julius Mays take as many field goal attempts as your one true great player is another Sidney Lowe coaching lowlight.

With another big frontline coming up in the next game against Georgia Tech it will be imperative for Milbourne, Gregory and Williams to hold their own on the defensive glass. Back in Comcast Center I expect Maryland’s shooting to return to normal and give the Terps a great chance to add the ninth ACC win of the season.

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