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Half-court Evaluation

Thirteen seconds into yesterday's game against Charlotte, junior guard Greivis Vasquez fired a three-point attempt that ended up being an air ball. Needless to say, that was not the start the Terps had in mind.

On Friday, Gary Williams spoke about his desire to see the Terps operate more efficiently out of its half-court offensive sets. He said he looks to see how quickly the team runs the offense. He then clarified that he wanted to see crisper passes and more direct entry into the post, not necessarily quicker shots taken early in possessions.

When the Terps adhered to their coach's wishes, they made progress. There were a few times in the first half when a quick chain of passes led to an open look or a trip to the foul line. More often than not, however, the half-court offense continued to sputter along. Players rushed shots, mishandled passes and had the ball swatted out of their possession.

In its own right, Maryland's half-court offense -- at least, the way it is currently being operated -- does not generate much, if any, momentum for the team. The Terps desperately need their suffocating defense and swift transition attack to spur offensive flow.

The catalyst for Maryland's comeback last night? You guessed it -- a renewed intensity on defense and an offensive explosion created by transition opportunities. Once those two components fell into place, the half-court offense began to run smoother because there was less pressure on it to produce points on each possession.

"We didn't as good an offense in the first half as we did the second half, but not many teams do," Williams said. "It's just the way it goes. It's hard to sustain something for 40 minutes, but I thought for the last 10 minutes of the first half our defense was good. And then our offense caught up to our defense as we got toward halftime. We could have easily been down 10 or 12 at halftime, but I thought we picked it up right at the end of the first half."

By Steve Yanda  |  January 4, 2009; 12:03 PM ET
Categories:  Men's basketball  
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Next: Three-point Ambitions


Vasquez was excellent last year, but much better this year: fewer turnovers, better decisions, and as of now he is the Terps' leading 3-point shooter.

By the way, when he squares his feet to the basket on the 3-pointers, the ball goes in much better than when his feet are angled to the basket (as they were in that first shot). He needs to take the time to set his feet so that they face his target, the basket, and he is also doing that more this year than he did last year. All-ACC for Vasquez?

Posted by: EdDC | January 4, 2009 2:17 PM | Report abuse

Not to pummel a dead horse, but it goes back to coaching. Gary Williams is a devotee of pressure defense and the fast break; he's made Maryland the model for many other college teams. But it's like the John Thompson Senior teams at Georgetown -- when they got forced into the half-court, they were lost. Simply couldn't muster the interior passing or jump-shooting skills you need against a North Carolina or a Duke. So they either blew the other team back onto its heels, or they struggled.

Maybe Gary is reconsidering.

Posted by: Samson151 | January 5, 2009 7:44 AM | Report abuse

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