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Halftime Inspiration

Ok, here's the situation: You're the head coach of the Maryland men's basketball team. Your team is up by, say, 11 points. You're coming off a horrific defeat on the road to a program that used to consider you one of its top rivals. Your season is on the brink of disaster.

What do you tell your players at halftime?

After Tuesday night's loss to Boston College, Gary Williams and several players said that for some reason the team lost its mojo (my word, not theirs) during the intermission. None of them, however, could explain why.

"You can't tell," Williams said. "You don't see 'em change or anything like that. They come in there at halftime just like any other team I've coached. We go out and we just seem to get a little tentative defensively, and they make some shots, and we lose some confidence. I don't know if it's cause Dave Neal's our only senior or what the deal is, but we have to have some people step up and just put a stop to it."

"We come out in the first half and we give it our all," freshman guard Sean Mosley said. "And in the second half we just don't bring the same intensity. It's something that we've got to work on."

And why is that?

"I really couldn't even tell you, but I think it's just a thing we got to work on," Mosley said. "We've just got to work harder."

"There's just something that happens at halftime," senior forward Dave Neal said. "We just come out flat. We've been showing that, and it's really weird for us."

Maryland fumbled away a double-digit lead and eventually lost by nine.

See? There's something mysterious going on during halftime in the home locker room at Comcast Center.

And it's your job to fix it. I want to know how you all would have approached that same halftime period if you were in Williams's shoes. What would you have said? What would you have done?

Perhaps most importantly, do you think any change in approach would have made a difference?

By Steve Yanda  |  January 29, 2009; 10:23 AM ET
Categories:  Men's basketball  
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"OK boys we're really going to turn up the D in the second half and choke these guys out. Give them something to remeber us by. Hayes you're coming off the bench Sean you go in there and make Rice wish he had left for the NBA after last season. We won the first half by 11 and I know we can play better. If we don't win by 20 we're running sprints after the game, if we do, no running tomorrow. I'll run them with you. Kill on 3. 1..2..3....."

Posted by: Lee26 | January 29, 2009 10:55 AM | Report abuse

I'm not sure it has to do with halftime as much as, for lack of a better word, choking. This team seems to get very tight and tentative when the other team makes a run. BC really started their run before the end of the 1st half. A good team has one or two guys that will get a tough basket or make a big defensive play to turn things around. GV used to be that guy from time to time, but all the recent negativity has seemed to rob him of his confidence. Another issue is that GW tends to play the starters, especially Hayes and GV, tons of minutes in close games. It almost seems like GW gets tunnel vision and gets too focused on what is happening on the court instead of keeping guys rested and using the subs to bring in energy. Tired legs = poor shooting and that is this teams problem.

Posted by: xfreestater | January 29, 2009 11:45 AM | Report abuse

Why don't they avoid the locker room all together and stay on the bench. Is there a rule that says they have to leave the court at halftime?

Posted by: drj09 | January 29, 2009 12:15 PM | Report abuse

I think you ask the wrong question. Maryland, if they are beating a BC at half time, has been prepared spectularly well for the game. BC has much better personnel. If BC regroups at halftime and their coach is good at making adjustments to meet what Gary and his guys put together and then executed in the first half, where's the deficiency in either coaching or performance.

Before one asks whether either Gary or the players are at fault, I think that one needs to make a realistic assessment of who this team is and whether it is performing at least as well as expected. If you answer both truthly, I think players and coach alike deserve our respect.

Posted by: cohenra | January 29, 2009 2:14 PM | Report abuse

I went to two Maryland games this year (Charlotte and Georgia Tech)and Maryland was down at half-time in both games. They came out in the second half with more fire and the defense really picked it up. They won both of those games.
Sometimes it is easier to play from behind.
Virginia Tech was up big last night at half-time and blew that lead. Losing half-time leads is not unique to Maryland. College basketball has always been a game of runs or "spurtability" as Clark Kellogg says.

Posted by: G-TOWNBALLING | January 30, 2009 11:43 AM | Report abuse

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