As anyone who ever has partaken in it can attest, exam week is a royal pain in the ... well, you get where this is headed. Anyways, Gary Williams may be long past his test-taking days, but that doesn't mean he was any less anxious heading into the fall semester's final deluge.
"It's tough from a couple areas," Williams said last week. "The obvious thing is you'd like your team to focus on basketball all the way through final exams, but that's impossible. It's hard to get all your players here at the same time because of the exam schedule. And then the other thing is you worry about conditioning. We're in pretty good shape, and a lot of times there's different hours, players stay up late, whatever. And it kind of bothers you."
Players said last week that they believed the hectic nature of finals week in some way contributed to the team's poor performance around that point in the season. The Terps went 2-4 in December last year, including losses to VCU, Boston College, American and Ohio. Nevermind the fact that none of those games were played during the actual finals week.
"With finals, in practice we didn't go as hard as we normally would cause we had a lot going on with finals and study hall and studying and doing all that type of stuff," sophomore guard Adrian Bowie said. "Now we should know how to handle those types of situations so we don't put ourselves into that type of situation as we did last year."
When asked again about finals week and his team's dismal 2007 performance in December after Friday night's win over Delaware State, Williams refused to draw a correllation between the two, stating that his team was just like every other college basketball program in the country.
He did say, though, that finals week does disrupt the momentum a team carries into it. For instance, if a team knocked off a suprisingly-good Big Ten squad and then proceeded to beat two more opponents into submission, said team would like to continue playing on a regular basis, if for no other reason than to keep the good vibes flowing.
"When you're playing well, you want to play every three or four days," Williams said. "In basketball, that would be ideal."
Maryland returns to action Monday night against American -- one of the team's that dampened the holiday season for the Terps last year. The chances of Maryland taking the Eagles lightly this time around are slim, whether the Terps are coming off finals week or not.
I'll post a more in-depth look at this year's American squad on Sunday, but until then, I'm curious to see if any of you are concerned about the possibility of another letdown against the Eagles, based on last season's outcome. Let me know what you all think.
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