Working so hard for the last month of the season to pad their resume for the NCAA tourney, Maryland got the bid they wanted and didn’t disappoint in their first game out. For all the naysayers out there, yes I’ll admit I’ve jumped on that bandwagon a few times, this was an statement for the Terps and a loud one. What they did is show up in the face of adversity and played ball. Maryland wasn’t expected to go anywhere, much less be close to .500 like they were at the end of the regular season in the ACC. When the team was at its worst with a 1 – 3 record, getting blown out by 41 points to Duke and infighting occurring within the Athletic department, the Terrapins would come out and just as any other game, play basketball. Although in Marylands case, they played better than most of the other teams. What the Terps have shown is that they have gotten better as the season progressed and that’s what the NCAA committee was looking for.
With similarities to the Terps/Golden Bears football game this past year, Maryland was again able to handle a similarly stacked team in a 84 – 71 win. Unlike their football team though, Maryland waited until the second half to pull away from the Golden Bears. If it weren’t for Jerome Randle (14 pts., 7 assts.) this would have been a blow out quickly in the first half. When the Terps would score, the Golden Bears answer was Randle with quick and fancy moves made only for the NBA. The Golden Bears came in leading the NCAA in 3-point percentage at close to 43%. Maryland was able to disrupt them with their zone defense and only allow Cal to shoot 29%. This has probably been Marylands savior this year is their emergence as zone defense team. Usually known for their man-to-man and full court press, they have been able to compliment that with good zone and great collapse around the basket when necessary. They’ve needed that with a team of all guards or they would have been a -20 in the rebounding category every game.
Marylands offense yesterday was nearly perfect. They ran their plays well, albeit a few sloppy shots from Greivis which is normal, and where able to drive the lane frequently. Neal (15 pts.,4 rbs.) and Milbourne (9 pts., 5 rbs.) were able to spot up and hit 15 – 17 footers without much challenge from the Bears. Hayes and Greivis continued their good shooting ending with 12 and 27 points respectively. One player that broke out of funk was Bowie. He played a solid 36 minutes defending Randle and putting up 12 points and 7 assists. This looks more like the Bowie Gary had envisioned, someone that take the point and run the offense effectively. Maryland ran their record to 19 – 2 when they outscore their opponents from the free-throw line. That’s a stat I’ll touch on in every article as it proves a point with Maryland. They are #1 in free throw percentage as a team in the ACC, 7th in the nation. If they drive the lane and cause their opponents to foul, it creates more opportunities. No reason to give away free points. Another pleasant surprise this year has been their ball control kepping most of their games to single digit turnovers and Maryland stayed consistent yesterday with 9 turnovers.
As Maryland looks to play Memphis on Saturday, they’re going to face another bigger team that shoots well and rebounds well. They play a fast tempo and feel they should have been a number 1 seed. They did look a little star-struck against Cal State Northridge and if it wasn’t for Sallie, who made 10 – 15 three’s (30 pts. above his average), Memphis would packing their bags. If Maryland hopes of getting anywhere in this game, they’ll need to play strong zone as Memphis didn’t do well against Cal State’s zone, keep the turnovers down and get to the free throw line frequently. These all have been working for the Terps recently and hopefully they can continue the trend. Gary has surprised us all this year in his coaching job and hopefully his players will keep giving him chances for those W’s. Go Terps!