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Bowie's Defensive Challenge

Among the players ranked in the top 10 in the ACC in free throw percentage, five have attempted more than 100 shots from the charity stripe this season*. One of those five is Virginia freshman guard Sylven Landesberg, who will square off against the Terps tonight at Comcast Center.

Virginia Coach Dave Leitao said Sunday that there are two things Landesberg has done especially well this season: 1) drive the ball at opposing defenders, and 2) accumulate trips to the free throw line. Gary Williams acknowledged as much during his chat with reporters yesterday.

"I think he's a good driver," Williams said. "You don't get fouled if you're just a jump shooter, so he is penetrating well. He knows how to get contact when he gets in the air. He's good at making some contact in there. He can put the ball on the floor with either hand, which maybe you don't expect from a 6-6 freshman all the time."

* Those five players (in order of free throw attempts) are:

  • Tyler Hansbrough, North Carolina -- 122 for 143 (85.3 percent)

  • Jeff Teague, Wake Forest -- 109 for 131 (83.2 percent)

  • Malcolm Delaney, Virginia Tech -- 103 for 117 (88.0 percent)

  • Tyrese Rice, Boston College -- 95 for 112 (84.8 percent)

  • Sylven Landesberg, Virginia -- 84 for 102 (82.4 percent)

At least at the start of tonight's game, sophomore guard Adrian Bowie likely will draw Landesberg as his defensive assignment, which could make for an interesting matchup. Bowie, if you'll recall, arguably has been the Terps' most consistent scoring option of late. He also, however, has been the Terps' most consistent fouler in recent outings.

During last week's two-game road trip through Miami, Bowie scored a career-high 23 points against Miami and 14 points against Florida State. He fouled out of both contests, which Maryland lost by a combined five points.

In the second half of Saturday's game, the Terps switched to an infrequently-used 3-2 zone defensive scheme, in large part to try to keep Bowie in the game (he picked up his fourth foul shortly after the intermission).

Williams's message to Bowie following those performances: "Just don't pick up the cheap one. Sometimes you get a cheap one when you don't foul anybody."

How long will Bowie guard Landesberg tonight? It likely will depend on how successful Landesberg is at drawing Bowie to commit fouls. The more often you see Landesberg at the free throw line, the better the chance of Williams making another mid-game defensive adjustment.

By Steve Yanda  |  January 20, 2009; 1:14 PM ET
Categories:  Men's basketball  
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