Terps Win By 21 ... But It Wasn't Pretty
The good news for Maryland basketball fans is that their team got another win Saturday at Comcast Center. The Terps are now 9-2 and remain in good position to enter ACC play having won all the games they should have won during their non-conference slate.
The bad news for Maryland basketball fans is that if their team plays next month like it did today, that nearly-pristine record will be muddied in a hurry.
"We got off to such a good start, and then I think we got a little complacent," junior guard Eric Hayes said. "You know, we weren’t playing as hard and playing as good as we were at the beginning of the game. We just need to find a way to avoid that and just keep it up for 40 minutes. That’s what Coach kept talking about, playing for 40 minutes, and we really didn’t do that tonight."
1) Fast starts. Were it not for Maryland's grand opening statement -- the Terps jumped out to a 24-7 lead -- it may very well have found itself in a dogfight against a vastly inferior opponent. Maryland created turnovers, which led to fast breaks, which led to easy baskets. At least, it did in the game's first eight minutes. After that, well, we'll address that in a minute.
2) Landon Milbourne. It's typically a good sign to see Milbourne making some screaming, howling or bellowing noise during a Terps game. It means he's into the flow, that's he's making an impact, that's he's asserting his will. Today, Milbourne made a lot of noise, which greatly aided Maryland's cause. The junior forward tallied 15 points on 7 of 10 shooting to go along with five rebounds, three steals and three blocks in 26 minutes.
3) Points in the paint. Maryland may not have won the rebounding battle (another subject to be broached momentarily), but the Terps did score at will around the basket. Maryland held a 38-12 advantage in points in the paint, which might be more of a reflection of Bryant's severely undersized lineup than of the development of the Terps frontcourt. Still, it was a commanding performance down low.
1) The final 32 minutes. Okay, so it wasn't all bad after Maryland's quick start, but there certainly were more periods of inefficiency today against an inferior foe than there have been in recent games. Bryant worked its way back to within nine points. The Bulldogs never got any closer than that, and yet, Maryland's sizable second-half lead never felt all that secure. Maryland continued to create turnovers and score on fast breaks, but the Terps operated their half-court offense sloppily and struggled to hit open looks when available.
2) Rebounding draw. Seriously? Even Gary Williams couldn't believe it. He kept double-checking the stat sheet in his postgame press conference to make sure his eyes were not deceiving him. They were not. Bryant -- a team that is playing its first season as a Division I program, a team that entered Saturday with a -11.2 average rebounding margin, a team that actually looked small in height and in build compared to the Terps -- managed to tally the same number of rebounds as the home team. That, my friends, is a serious issue if your looking for the Terps to do well this season. Perhaps it was a focus thing. Maryland thought it would coast so it stopped honing in on every possession, on every missed shot. Whatever the root, that's something that Williams likely will be addressing in the coming days. Have fun at practice, boys.
3) Steve Goins's lower left leg. The freshman forward did not suit up for today's game due to pain what Goins described as the outside of his lower left ankle. Goins said this injury originated about two months ago and that he has been playing through the pain since then. According to Goins, he underwent an MRI exam about three weeks ago, but the results did not show any major damage. Lately, however, the pain became overwhelming ("It’s a sharp pain," Goins said. "I can’t push down on it."), so on Friday afternoon he went in for a second MRI exam. The results of the second exam have not yet been released, so Goins was unsure of a timetable for his recovery. He wore a black protective boot on his left foot as he sat on the sideline in street clothes during the game. Goins is the second Maryland post player to be sidelined with a foot injury. Sophomore forward Jerome Burney is out with a stress fracture in his right foot.
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