Flatter Than The Soda At Bullock's Bar B Cue
Before catching our flight home after yesterday's game, Patrick Stevens of the Washington Times joined Eric Prisbell and I for a quick meal at Bullock's Bar B Cue in Durham. To say we made the wrong dining choice would be a huge understatement.
As Stevens put it, "This drink is about 60 percent water and 40 percent Coke." Given a replacement by a very kind waitress, Stevens praised the improvement. "This is about 50 percent water and 50 percent Coke," he said.
In other words, the soda was flat. Which, oddly enough, fit in quite well with the Maryland performance we had just witnessed a few hours earlier.
"We came out a little flat," senior forward Dave Neal had said after the 41-point loss to Duke.
Yes, they did indeed. Maryland kept the game relatively competive for the first eight minutes or so, but even during that span it was clear Duke held a decisive upper hand. In no area was that fact more evident than in the post, where Duke center Brian Zoubek hovered over everyone and made life miserable for Neal and the rest of Maryland's frontcourt players.
Zoubek, who finished with nine rebounds and four blocks, teamed up with forward Kyle Singler (seven rebounds, two blocks) and reserve big man Lance Thomas (seven rebounds, two blocks) to deny Maryland on defense and provide the Blue Devils numerous second chances on offense.
Neal said boxing out only does so much good when giving up half a foot in height to an opposing player. And as the game progressed and the deficit grew larger and larger, Duke's second (and often, third) chances became increasingly demoralizing.
"It's always tough cause that resets the shot clock and gives them another 35 seconds, and that's 35 seconds more for us to play defense," Neal said. "It's hard, and it hurts you. No one likes to play defense for 35 seconds. It was just a tough one."
Rather than exhaust all possible solutions to their size disadvantage, as the Terps appeared to do when in similar situations over the previous few games, Maryland players appeared to relent against the Blue Devils. They resigned themselves to the fact that Duke was bigger and, at least yesterday, contained greater desire to attain its goals.
Maryland trailed by 25 points at halftime and at one point in the second half fell behind by as many as 44. By that point, however, many of the starters had been replaced by bench players who were more energetic, even if they proved just as ineffective.
"You know, you always sense that coming in here, you worry about their intensity level, how they play, their defense and things like that," Gary Williams said. "That's always back there somewhere that that can happen. And it happened today. We didn't play with the enthusiasm necessary to walk in there and play well."
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