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Fundamentals, Anyone?

Remember when you were a little kid and your dad or a coach or whoever taught you to play baseball was instructing you on the basics of catching a pop fly? How they would stress that you watch the ball into your glove and use both hands to secure it once it landed?

Well, some of Gary Williams's postgame comments Saturday evening were causing at least one writer some serious flashbacks, even though Williams never brought up America's pasttime once.

Rather, Williams spent a good portion of his presser talking about rebounding -- mainly how his team had struggled in that area against Bryant's smaller and inferior lineup. The Terps and Bulldogs came to a 35-35 draw in the rebounding department, which had to have been considered a significant victory for Tim O'Shea's squad and a stark disappointment for Williams and his bunch.

"We've got too many guys who are rebounding with one hand," Williams said. "We're trying to bring the ball down and it gets scraped or whatever. It gets loose."

Senior forward Dave Neal, who played 25 minutes and finished with five rebounds, attributed the Terps' struggles in part to the match-up zone defense that Bryant employed. A match-up zone defense combines aspects of man-to-man and zone defensive schemes. The on-ball defender plays his man tight -- as in man-to-man defense -- while the defenders away from the ball operate in zone coverage (typically 2-1-2, 1-3-1 or 1-2-2).

Neal said opposing teams rarely operate out of a match-up zone, which makes it difficult to adjust to on the fly. He predicted Maryland likely won't face another foe that plays match-up zone defense the rest of the season.

"When you play a match-up zone the whole game, they're all right around that rim, so all those balls that come off for rebounds, they're right there to get it," Neal said. "Then we shot a lot of threes today and a lot of them didn't fall and a lot of those rebounds came to them. I think we did a decent job rebounding, but there's always room for improvement."

The Terps shot 7 for 21 (33.3 percent) from three-point range Saturday against Bryant and came up with six offensive rebounds.

But Williams believed his team's effort on the defensive glass was more distressing. Bryant outscored Maryland on second chance points, 12-7.

"Part of the reason is we're not going after the ball hard enough," Williams said. "There's drills you can do, but that's also a personal pride thing. You can't let somebody outrebound you if you're supposed to be a good rebounder. If you're supposed to be a good rebounding team, you're not down at halftime in rebounding. Maybe our guys saw that stat (Bryant entered the contest with a –11.2 average rebounding margin) and thought it would be easy to rebound."

Now, an argument certainly could be made that the Terps are not supposed to be -- nor expected to be -- a good rebounding unit. However, against a team such as Bryant, Maryland should be able to assert its will on the boards. Yet, just as Williams stated, the Terps were being out-rebounded, 20-15, at halftime.

"It's one of those things where we need some people to step up and dominate on the glass," Williams said. "In other words, you look at our rebounding, you see 5, 5, 6, 5 and, you know, nobody's got 10. (Junior guard) Greivis (Vasquez) is our leading rebounder, which he's been quite a few games this year. We have to step that up and do a better job on the glass. Hopefully, we will."

Indeed, no Maryland player recorded more than six rebounds Saturday. Vasquez led the way with six. Junior forward Landon Milbourne, sophomore guard Adrian Bowie and Neal each registered five.

On the season, Vasquez leads the team with an averge of 6.6 rebounds per game. Milbourne is second with 4.8 rpg.

One point of interest: freshman forward Jin Soo Kim played five minutes against the Bulldogs and pulled down three rebounds in that span. Williams lauded Kim afterward for rebounding with two hands.

Several players admitted after the game that a rebounding performance like the one they put on against Bryant will get them trampled during ACC season. Fortunately, they said, there still remains a little time to make adjustments before the conference slate commences.

"If you don't play hard, you get exposed in some areas," Williams said, "which isn't all bad this time of year."

By Steve Yanda  |  December 29, 2008; 7:09 AM ET
Categories:  Men's basketball  
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Comments

Which shows how players who've been thoroughly drilled in fundamentals tend to forget them during games.

But it's a good lesson for Maryland, because they'll face the same type of height challenge against Wake, NC, NC State, etc, that Bryant did against them. And can use some of the same fundamental rebounding techniques (position, blocking out, taking down the ball with two hands) to cancel out some of that advantage.

Posted by: Samson151 | December 29, 2008 8:09 AM | Report abuse

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