Terps Knock Off American, 67-51
You all sure know how to pick 'em. At last check, 51 percent of those of you who took part in the Terps Insider poll earlier today said Maryland would beat American by 10-20 points, and you were dead on. But while the final score indicated another sizable victory for the Terps, they had to work for this one a little bit more than they had in recent outings. The Eagles hung around until about midway through the second half, and then the Terps finally broke them with that dogged press defense.
1) Dave Neal. This guy wants it. Bad. You can see it on his face, especially tonight. He had an inch-long scar on his right temple, the result of some mischief with friends that ended in a spill. But even discounting that mark, you always get the sense that being a member of the starting lineup and playing significant minutes for this team means more to Neal than maybe any other player on the team. He earned his time. He knows it. He lets everyone who watches know it. So when the Terps got off to a bit of a slow start offensively tonight, there was Neal diving across the floor for loose balls and then calling a timeout to maintain possession. There was Neal scrapping for rebounds. There was Neal sinking his underrated jump shot. He finished with 14 points and six rebounds. But his impact on the game was far greater than the numbers indicate.
2) Defensive pressure. Even at halftime with Maryland ahead by just eight points, you got the sense that American was treading on thin ice. They were hanging in there, but were doing so with little self-assurance. When the Terps applied their specialty -- an intense full-court press -- at length in the second half, the Eagles folded and the lead spread wide.
"That’s what you’re trying to get out of a pressure defense," Williams said. "It’s a cumulative effect where eventually sometimes you catch a team tired and those two, three-minute stretches is really where you break the game open."
3) Braxton Dupree. Yeah, he only played 10 minutes, and yeah, he scored just five points and grabbed just one rebound. But for this guy, considering the start to the season that he's had, small steps forward are -- if nothing else -- steps forward. He needed this, whether he'll admit it or not. He didn't look lost. He played with a little more energy than in recent outings. He generated some confidence for himself. All of which are good things, for both Dupree and the Terps.
1) Second-half shooting. It's a good thing that defense was so stifling in the second half, because the shots certainly weren't falling. Maryland shot 31.0 percent from the field after halftime.
2) Sean Mosley. He made an incredibly athletic block on Derrick Mercer late in the game. Beyond that, it was another unsteady performance from the freshman guard. He shot 0 for 2 from the field and finished with just one point. He did tallied three rebounds and four personal fouls in 14 minutes of action. He seems to have hit a slump. Fortunately, he still has a few more non-conference games to break out of it before ACC play begins.
3) Brian Gilmore's ankles. Someone might want to check and make sure they're not broken. After Mosley's block, Greivis Vasquez started a fast break and finished by faking a behind-the-back pass to Dave Neal before going in for a lay-up. Gilmore was the bewildered Eagle left wondering what the heck just happened. Coincidentally, about nine minutes earlier, Gilmore collided with Landon Milbourne and Cliff Tucker and went down holding his right ankle. He returned to the game, so I assume he was alright, but after that second occurence, maybe he should get them examined. Just in case.
Posted by: hclark1 | December 23, 2008 6:44 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Terptwin | December 26, 2008 6:52 PM | Report abuse
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