At least one thing appeared certain last night -- the Terps were dedicating a great deal of effort, especially in the first half, to improving their half-court execution on offense. That's not to say they always were successful, but there was an emphasis in that component that wasn't present in other recent outings.
For example, with just less than 12 minutes remaining in the first half and the Terps trailing by two, Dave Neal set a vicious pick on Greivis Vasquez's man at the top of the key. Vasquez moved toward the wing, drawing the attention of the Elon defender guarding Eric Hayes. The defender left Hayes's side, which gave Vasquez three options: A) force a shot, something he already had done a few times in the half, B) return the ball to Neal, who was rolling away from the wreckage he had just created or C) feed Hayes, who was gliding toward the basket uncovered.
This was exactly the type of situation Gary Williams was referrencing a day earlier prior to his team's workout.
"No matter what play you run, it's how well you set screens," Williams said Monday afternoon. "There's not a team in America that doesn't set screens in their half-court offense, so you want to be a good screening team. The guy that sets the screen a lot of times is the guy that eventually gets open because his man helps when he sets a good screen. So no matter what the play is, you have to have that ability."
In this case, Vasquez had two options, including the teammate who had just set a screen for him. He opted for Hayes, who -- to the surprise of many in the audience who had watched the first eight minutes of the game -- converted the lay-up. The score was tied. Maryland would not trail again the rest of the night.
Vasquez tallied eight assists on the night and is averaging a team-high 5.3 assists per game this season.
"I think Greivis has really worked hard offensively not to take as many shots as he probably could take in these last four or five games," Williams said Tuesday night. "I think he’s passed up some shots and that really helps us when we’re trying to get other guys to score. That’s maturity on his part."
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