Bringing 'Em Back
Gary Williams and his staff faced a multitude of challenges coming off a weekend in which the Terps were exposed in many areas. The team's shooting needed to be addressed, as did its defensive focus and overall effort level. Oh, and they had all of two days to do their fixing.
But perhaps Williams's greatest challenge in such a short time span was to repair the severe beating his players took to their collective psyche at the hands of consecutive opponents. They were bullied and pushed around against Gonzaga. They were run ragged by Georgetown.
There were about three or four hours after the loss to the Hoyas when, Williams said, "you just want to kill everybody. Then you calm down a little bit and you realize that certain guys did play well, even though the score was ridiculous."
Though the process admittedly takes a significant amount of time, Williams said he tries to being cooling down after losses as soon as he is done with postgame media interviews. As he sat silently in the team's locker room at the Milk House in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. on Sunday evening, Williams began formulating a plan for how to revitalize his team's spirits.
"You don't want to yell at a player on the way through to get to your stuff out of the coaches' locker room," Williams said. "You just want to be on a pretty even keel. You don't want to waste time using emotion on things that don't even help you. You're talking about things that are ridiculous like we've got to bench this guy and start that guy, and all that's not going to happen."
By the time the Terps returned to College Park at around 11:45 p.m. on Sunday, Williams had decided on his course of action. He went home before returning to Comcast Center by 7:30 a.m. on Monday to begin reviewing film of the previous night's defeat.
When the players arrived, Williams and his staff showed them only the first six minutes of the Georgetown game. There were enough examples of what went wrong in that game during the opening six minutes to suffice.
"I wanted them to watch how we started the game because the energy level wasn't there to play a good team," Williams said. "I wanted them to see that and then see what we did wrong offensively so that we could correct that (Monday) at practice and then move on (Tuesday). That's all that was talked about with Georgetown; that's all that was looked at with Georgetown was about a half hour. But it was a valuable half hour."
Monday's practice, Williams said, was crucial. And it went well, though Williams noted it's always easy to have a good practice after an embarrassing loss because the players all realize changes need to be made.
"We didn't yell and scream watching the Georgetown tape," Williams said. "We pointed out where we didn't screen, where we didn't make the extra pass, where we didn't see the ball defensively. We just tell them, as a team, we have to do better. You don't put it on one guy. One guy didn't lose that game. Coaches and players were all involved in that loss."
Likewise, the coaches and players all are involved in turning around the team's outlook in time to get it mentally prepared to face another formidable opponent just a few days later.
"Losses are tough," Williams said. "You don't have the time to get over them. You'd like to have a week to get over a loss because then you can gradually get it. But you've got to figure out a way to get yourself through all that, the grieving part of the loss. Use it to get ready for the next game."
December 3, 2008; 3:49 PM ET
Categories: Men's basketball
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