Explaining Terps' Inconsistencies
Those of you who have followed the Terps closely this season know how inconsistent they tend to be. Take Wednesday night's game at Miami, for example. Maryland played about as well in that first half as they have in any other half against a quality opponent this season. The Terps were hitting open shots. They were rebounding collectively. They were running the Hurricanes ragged.
Then, midway through the second half, everything changed. Maryland slowed its pace, which threw off its offensive rhythm, which led to errant shots, which led to Miami rebounds and thus, more scoring opportunities for the Hurricanes. And there were many times, Gary Williams said, when the Terps grabbed defensive rebounds and bypassed chances to start fast breaks.
It happened Wednesday night, but really, it's been happening for much of the past month. Maryland will start well and then fade. Our come out of the gate slowly before picking up steam. Or the Terps will sandwich a period of lethargy in between solid stretches. Against inferior opposition, they got away with it.
But as the competition stiffened, it became more difficult for Maryland to overcome it's bi-polar tendencies. The Terps had to mount a second-half comeback to top Charlotte. Then they fell to Morgan State. Then they needed another second-half comeback to defeat Georgia Tech. Then they blew a sizable lead with little more than 12 minutes remaining against Miami.
As for common threads that might help explain his team's maddening ways, Williams has a theory.
"We don't get a lot of cheap scores if we're not getting stuff out of transition, out of pressure," he said. "We don't get second shots or things like that. It doesn't seem we score very often like that. We have to do a better job in running our offense, first of all to get to the free throw line, but also to keep getting good shots."
It's no secret that the Terps rely on transition offense and that they struggle to run their half-court offense. What isn't clear is, knowing that to be the case, why Maryland would venture away from its strength. Why they would grab defensive rebounds and not immediately push the ball up the court. Why they would voluntarily alter their approach after seizing a lead not a whole lot of people thought they would -- or could -- claim.
"That might be from being tired or whatever, but you can't get tentative," Williams said. "Whatever got you the lead, you'd like to continue that way."
Right now, the Terps don't seem to have that capability. When a group of reporters met with Florida State Coach Leonard Hamilton in his office yesterday afternoon, he said he couldn't believe how drastically the momentum in the Maryland-Miami game shifted, how quickly Maryland lost control.
Just moments earlier, Hamilton had praised the Terps because "they don't beat themselves, they operate their offense to perfection and they knock down open shots."
Maryland followers can take solace in knowing they're not the only ones who don't know what to make of their team.
January 17, 2009; 7:53 AM ET
Categories: Men's basketball
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