Maryland has started conference play with a huge win, defeating #18 Florida State 77-68 at the Comcast Center. The Terps finally have a solid win on their belt and improve to 10-4, 1-0 in the ACC, while FSU falls to 13-3, 1-1 in the conference.
Maryland got tonight’s victory because they were effective from the perimeter and forced Florida State to adjust to their style. When Solomon Alabi got into early foul trouble, Maryland took their shots to the perimeter and disrupted the Seminole defense. The constant pressure from three-point shooting from Greivis Vasquez and Eric Hayes and the short jumpers from Vasquez and Landon Milbourne were too much for Florida State, who’s style relies on dominating the paint. FSU had to put faster players on the court to deal with Maryland’s guards instead of playing a slow style that they prefer. Alabi and Chris Singleton were on their game in the second half, but Maryland never lost the lead and buckled down when they needed to. This kind of play will be key for Maryland; they have one of the most experienced backcourts in the conference, but a very young frontcourt, so a fast game is what they need to succeed.
Maryland had excellent play from Greivis Vasquez, who is in the rhythm that Terps fans waited a while to see. Scoring tonight, he has gotten at least 19 points in nine of his last ten games, where he failed to score double digits in his first four. Vasquez is by far and away Maryland’s most important player, as when he is not doing well, the whole team suffers. He can hit the one-hand jumper in or near the paint plus from outside, and his passing sets up Hayes very well. Florida State had no answer for him tonight. Only problem tonight for him was that his free throws were well off, but other than that he was solid. Gary Williams said of him tonight: “I’ll put Greivis with anybody in terms of what he brings overall to a team during a game situation. I’m proud of him, but I expect him to play like this. He’s that type of player.”
Something to take out of this game to work on in the future is the frontcourt. It is clear Jordan Williams has won out the starting job as the main force down low, but he has a lot of work to do. He is getting more physical with each game but is still getting in foul trouble early in games. Landon Milbourne is Maryland’s shooting forward, not a primary rebounder. The problem is Maryland does not have a good bench in this area. Dino Gregory and James Padgett are more athletic forwards than bruisers and such cannot be as physical. Plus, Padgett has not been seeing much time on the court, and without Williams’s early foul trouble he might have seen less than his ten minutes tonight. Williams is doing well for a freshman but he still needs work, plus Gregory as a veteran needs to be more physical in the paint and avoid taking long two-point shots.
Overall, the Terps may have been heavily reliant on the three to win, but a victory over a ranked team to start off ACC play is no small achievement. But the Terps will have to be ready again quickly as they head down to play Wake Forest in Winston-Salem Tuesday night.