How To Handle A Blowout
One would think that with opponents such as Bryant and Elon on the horizon, the Terps will find themselves in a few more circumstances such as the one they faced a week ago in a 28-point win over Delaware State: Up by a significant margin at a very early point in the game; playing in front of a lackluster home crowd; not a whole lot of tangible gain to be had in the process of earning another 'W'.
Heck, American just lost by double-digits to George Washington, so perhaps Maryland will find themselves in such a situation as soon as Monday night.
Point being, it's hard for individual players, much less an entire team, to maintain focus for a full 40 minutes when the opponent is so clearly inferior its almost laughable. Remaining on task in such situations requires a mental toughness not all squads possess, especially ones with nine underclassmen on the roster.
But so far this season, Maryland has done well to put away opponents that reside outside the Terps' zip code in terms of overall talent. For Gary Williams, it's all a matter of framework.
"You don't look at it as being over; you can't," Williams said. "Funny things can happen. I think every coach has had that happen. But the attitude is there to work hard. In other words, we don't try to play our way into a game seeing how hard we have to play. We just go out and play hard and hopefully that's a good way to start the game. You know, we're buying into it, which is a good sign."
In some respects, games such as the blowout over Delaware State offered players an opportunity to fine tune specific aspects of their game that they might not be able to focus on in more tighly contested affairs. Sophomore forward Dino Gregory said sharpening his ability on defense to deny entry into the post was one task he tried to accomplish last Friday night.
"You practice the little things cause it was a blowout," Gregory said. "You usually can get away with the little things, but (against Delaware State) we tried to focus on the little things, so we can do that in the big games."
So although the opposition might not be as stiff and the crowds might not be at anywhere near the officially listed attendance figure, the Terps appear to have several methods of maintaining an edge at their disposal. Should they elect not to use any of those methods, they also have someone stalking the sideline who will be quick to put them in their place.
"I think Coach Williams does a great job with that," senior forward Dave Neal said. "He's all 40 minutes. He doesn't let off you until that buzzer sounds at double zeroes in the second half and I think that's something great he really does. There was three minutes left (against Delaware State) and he was yelling at us to keep working hard and playing defense. I think with him doing that it just really keeps us playing."
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