As Coach Gary Williams is quick to remind everyone, his team has scored lots of points in its first two games and has won by wide margins. But as much as Williams would like to chalk the Terps’ early offensive struggles up to the nerves of a young squad, the issue is worth examining.
Maryland scored 11 points in the first 10 minutes of action against Bucknell in the season opener. Against Youngstown State, the Terps managed to tally 12 points in the first 10 minutes. The Terps missed their first eight shots against Bucknell and their first six (as well as two missed free throws) against Youngstown State. Safe to say, neither start was an offensive performance worth emulating.
Yesterday, reporters got a chance to talk with Landon Milbourne and Adrian Bowie, and the subject of the team’s slow starts came up.
“We just came out kind of sloppy,” Milbourne said. “That's just part of it being the beginning of the year and trying to figure out different ways to start the game, what method to use to get everybody on the team fired up and ready to play. It's just a learning experience. We can't keep starting off the games that way. You know, we play a big team and it might bite us in the long run. We're just trying to figure out the right combination to start the game, as well.”
A common thread in both games was that the team’s offensive fortunes improved dramatically once Maryland began implementing its full-court press. Bowie’s take on the correlation was particularly interesting.
“We have to move” when in the press, Bowie said. “Sometimes we get lazy. Sometimes we don't move as much as we do in the press. You know, in the press, you get a lot of fast break opportunities, a lot of steals and you get to go in transition. So it's like a reward, doing the press. Sometimes it's necessary, too, to get us on track.”
Williams acknowledged a correlation between when his team began to press and when it broke out of its scoring slumps, but he cautioned that it should not remain that way the rest of the season.
“When you're a pressing team, you really have to be careful with that, so the players don't rely on that,” Williams said. “In other words, we should be able to score without pressing. Your press shouldn't be the reason your offense gets going. Now, it's nice to have that. It can happen if that's the way it is, but we've been preaching the last couple days that we shouldn't have to go to pressure to get our offense to where we can score points.”
Right now, however, it appears they do have to turn to the press to generate offensive rhythm, which led Milbourne to a reluctant conclusion.
“Maybe we might have to start out pressing,” Milbourne said. “Hopefully, we won't have to. Hopefully, we can find the energy to start the game out well, so we won't have to resort to another thing to get the team riled up. But that's what worked the past two games, and maybe we'll do that (Friday) night. I'm not sure.”
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