Terps Count On Their Defense
The saving grace of this Maryland team might be that it has the ability to play solid defense, emphasis being placed on "might" and "ability." The half-court offense, as has been frequently discussed, is not fully functional as of now. There's a good chance it won't be fully functional at the start of ACC play. Heck, there's a chance it might not become fully functional all season.
Regardless, several players have said they believe this team can succeed to a certain extent solely by virtue of its relentless defense and transition offense. It would seem crucial, then, that the Terps actually play relentless defense on a nearly-consistent basis, no?
Against Charlotte on Saturday, Maryland did not display its usual aggression on defense from the start of the game. It took the Terps a while to get over the shock that the 49ers actually came to play. Players said afterward they expected to face an athletic Charlotte squad, but not one that could seemingly shoot the lights out.
"They were 7-for-14 in the first half," junior forward Landon Milbourne said Saturday. "That's not good defense, especially for us. We don't give away threes like that. We can't do that, especially with this upcoming ACC season guys are going to be able to shoot so we've got to take away open looks."
Maryland eventually got its act together (with the help of some, shall we say, enthusiastic implorations from Gary Williams) and pressed the 49ers into submission. Whether the Terps will be able to get away with such defensive lapses once ACC season begins remains to be seen. It would seem Milbourne, for one, believes not.
Here is where Maryland ranks among its conference foes in a few defensive categories:
- Scoring defense -- fifth (61.6 ppg allowed)
- Field goal percentage defense -- seventh (39.7 percent allowed)
- Three-point field goal percentage defense -- fifth (30.0 percent allowed)
- Steals -- sixth (8.1 per game)
- Blocked shots -- sixth (5.0 per game)
So, it would seem the Terps are good enough at least to remain competitive on most nights based on the efforts of its A-game defense alone. But, unless Maryland's offense begins to click on a more regular basis, it will take just that -- its best defensive effort over the course of an entire 40-minute period. That type of energy level is difficult to sustain for an entire game, much less game after game after game after ... you get the picture.
Ask the Terps and many will say they believe they can sustain themselves on defense and transition points on most nights. If the half-court offense comes around, all the better.
"I mean, I don't know if it will be enough," junior guard Eric Hayes said Saturday. "Some of the games, we're going to need to have a complete game of half-court offense and transition, but I think if we're doing that well enough, you know, it can take us a long way."
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