Yes, the saying may be “Stupid is as Stupid does,” but at this point, anything goes. Maryland, coming off a 108 – 91 loss to the Tarheels, needed to step up and play a balanced game to end the week. Losers 6 of the last 9 games, the Terps need all the wins they can get at this point with 4 of their last 7 opponents being ranked in the top 15. Clemson, next week’s opponent, is the only ranked team out of the top ten at #11.
Maryland played with intensity, but during many times of the game, they looked lost. They looked unfocused. During the last few minutes of the game, they looked as if they wanted to leave the court and jump on the bus for College Park. As they move into a critical stretch to end the season, many questions remain for this team. Where was Adrian Bowie and Landon Milbourne sunday night? Why can’t they defend the three? Why does Gary give only 7 players more than 10 minutes a game when he buses around 13? The last question was just icing on the cake. I realize some of these players aren’t proven, but someone like Braxton Dupree and Jerome Burney have played ACC games and can only get better with experience. Besides, with the Terps looking at Dave Neal and Landon Milbourne as their only big players inside, Braxton and Jerome would bring a new presence to the team and provide good inside minutes.
These are legitimate questions. The ACC is a tough conference, a young conference at that. Maryland needs to groom their players just as everyone else is in the league or other teams are going to surpass the Terps in experience. Why can’t Gary use these young players to break into the top 25 just as Wake and Clemson? Some may say these players aren’t of the same caliber as those teams, but Gary has always gotten the best play out of middle-tier players. Just look at the Osby’s, Holden’s, Baxter’s and Dixon’s of his past teams.
As for the positives, Maryland did use the zone defense with success again tonight. They were able to stop Tech from coming inside often. Maryland also defended the three a bit better. Georgia Tech still shot 20 three’s, but because the Terps defended better on the outside, they only made 7 and any more than that would’ve given the Terps a loss. The Terps did get to the line 19 times, only making 12, but I think they’re beginning to realize the benefits of driving to the basket. I’d still like to see them get to the line 25 times a game so they can control the flow of the game and open up the three’s more. Maryland did have 12 steals as a team, which shows they are trying to defend the passing lanes (I’m stretching here). Their rebounding wasn’t that bad considering Tech’s size inside, but with 10 of those rebounds being offensive to go along with 20+ three’s, it shows they were following their shot to the basket.
Maryland now has close to a week off before their next game against Viginia Tech. They’re going to have to practice hard this week as Virginia Tech plays tough defense and points will be hard to come by. If Maryland gets off to a slow start and doesn’t control the game, they could be in for a long night.