As should be expected when a team gets beat by 12 points and owned on the boards by a much bigger and more physical team, the Terps tried to find some positives in the aftermath of their defeat to Gonzaga. Well, at least Gary Williams and Dave Neal did so. When I asked to speak to other players (an open locker room is the norm for Maryland after games) I was told by a team spokesman that "everybody else is already on the bus." I found that curious.
Anyways, Williams and Neal both made mention of a key lesson the Terps learned last night -- rebounding, for this squad, will have to be a group-wide effort. Against Gonzaga's taller lineup, the Terps struggled mightily to hold their ground in the post, specifically against 6-foot-11 forward Josh Heytvelt.
"I mean, it’s tough, but you’ve got to box him out," Neal said of Heytvelt. "I’m 6-foot-8; that’s what I have. I can’t really grow throughout the game, so I tried my best to box him out. He was a big, strong guy, and he got some rebounds. But you’ve got to have a team effort down low and we know for now that we have to have five guys down there to get a rebound."
While I would hope it did not take a game like the one Maryland experienced last night to drive home that point, Williams pointed out there is a difference between knowing about a weakness and living it.
"We’re not as big as he is, but we tried to get some help in there," said Williams, also referrencing Heytvelt. "And you know, you’ve got to compete. We’re going to run into that at times during the year with bigger people and we have to learn how to play against that. You know, if we get that out of tonight, that this is what we’re going to face, then we have to be able to handle that."
The challenge for the Terps now will be adapting their strategy for future matchups, like, say, on Sunday when they face Georgetown. The Hoyas are not nearly as big as Gonzaga, but they still will have a size advantage over Maryland in the frontcourt.
Freshman Greg Monroe stands 6-feet-11 and weighs 250 pounds. He also has demonstrated an ability to adjust quickly to the college game. I would imagine Braxton Dupree will be assigned to cover him, so that should be interesting.
There's also junior DaJuan Summers, a Baltimore native, who stands 6-foot-8 and 236 pounds. He's not consistently all that physical of a player, but he certainly has some size to throw around when he so chooses. Landon Milbourne will draw this assignment, and really, this is the one to watch. Milbourne is 6-foot-7 but just 207 pounds.
If Williams continues to play him at the power forward position as he has done so far, Milbourne consistently will be matched-up against players who are bulkier -- if not necessarily taller -- than he is. Milbourne has struggled of late, offensively and defensively, as he has tried to grow comfortable in his new role. How well and how quickly he can adapt and find some way to combat the size disadvantages he will face down low may go along way toward determining how effective the Terps can be on the boards this season.
What do you guys think about the Georgetown match-up on Sunday, specifically in the frontcourt? Will Maryland rebound (pun intended) from last night's performance?
Perhaps the better question is, with the makeup of this year's squad, do they have the personnel to produce better results than they did last night when squared up against a bigger foe?
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