Terps Altered Game Plan Down Low
Typically, Georgia Tech's starting lineup includes 6-foot-8, 240-lb. junior forward Zachery Peacock, who is averaging 10.6 points and 5.9 rebounds per game for the Yellow Jackets. Yesterday, though, Peacock came down with a stomach virus and missed the game. As a result, Georgia Tech started sophomore guard Lance Storrs, who entered the game connecting on 42.5 percent of his three-point attempts.
With Peacock out and Storrs in, the Terps adjusted their approach to defending the Yellow Jackets. In the two days leading up to the match-up, Maryland worked explicitly in practice on double-teaming opposing post players, expecting to play three quality Georgia Tech big men -- Peacock, along with Gani Lawal and Alade Aminu.
Gary Williams said the original focus for forwards Dave Neal and Landon Milbourne was going to be to keep between their man and the ball-handler at an angle the would deter or prohibit the ball-handler from leading the post player into easy scoring position.
"We were trying to keep an angle where they couldn't throw it directly where, when they caught the ball, they couldn't just drop step and take it to the basket and dunk it or get up two feet over the rim and lay it in," Williams said. "We're not that type of team."
Should one of the Yellow Jackets' big men have caught the ball in such a position, the idea was to double team that player immediately.
But with Peacock out and the Georgia Tech lineup transformed to a more guard-oriented look, Williams made a last-minute change -- the Terps would go strictly to a man-to-man scheme in their half-court defense. The double-teaming concept was out. Instead, the Terps' perimeter defenders would sag off their men to provide occassional help with the interior defense. It largely would be up to the individual efforts of Neal and Milbourne to keep their assigned big men at bay.
"When (Williams) told us that in the pregame huddle, he said you’ve got to take responsibility and play defense yourself, and that’s what I did," Neal said. "I tried to be as physical as possible and front him as much as I could."
Lawal finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds, while Aminu finished with 14 points and 17 rebounds. Despite the seemingly gaudy production of Georgia Tech's two post players, Neal said he was satsfied with his performance on defense, though he noted his hips were mighty sore from all the crashing and banging he did in the post all afternoon.
"I’m happy with what I did," said Neal, who finished with eight points and six rebounds. "I took a beating, but it was worth it cause we got the 'W'."
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