Terps Exhale In 73-68 Win Over Miami
The air seemed significantly lighter in Maryland's locker room after the game tonight, and with good reason. The past week had been downright brutal to the confidence and morale of this team. Simply put, the Terps needed this win, and not just for the sake of their record, which improved to 14-7 overall and 3-4 in ACC play.
"I just told them I’m going to coach how I always coach," said Gary Williams, who spent the better part of the past week involved in a public spat with his own athletic department. "I’ve done this too long to let anything affect the way I coach. You know, I made them promise that they would practice the same way. We were both going to do what we could do, and I was going to coach the game. They were going to practice hard to get ready for the game. We both were able to do that, and I think that’s why they won the game."
1) Defensive tenacity. The Terps' defense appeared much like the team's psyche in recent weeks -- batter and bruised. But tonight, it returned to form and harrassed the Hurricanes into submission. In the first half, Maryland implemented its half- and full-court presses with renewed vigor and created many scoring opportunities off Miami turnovers. In the second half, the Terps settled into its 3-2 zone defense in an attempt to better guard against Miami's dangerous three-point shooters. And clinging to a tight lead with about five minutes remaining, Maryland switched to a box-and-one defense, which was designed to ensure Miami guard Jack McClinton did not personally deliver the Terps another nightmare, as he did on Jan. 14. Overall, Maryland forced 16 Miami turnovers and used them to score 20 points. And most importantly, McClinton never became a crucial factor down the stretch.
2) Offensive patience. Late in the week, Williams said the team really honed in on one specific component of its half-court offense. Players said that component was their "two" play, a.k.a. the flex-cut scheme. Sophomore guard Adrian Bowie said the coaches stressed finding open shots and looking for the best, rather than the first, scoring opportunities. In the first half, it seemed as though the Terps would continue with their shooting woes (34.3 percent from the field), but after halftime, they calmed down and actually looked like a team capable of efficiently operating half-court offensive sets. They shot 50.0 percent in the second half.
3) Greivis Vasquez. His shot still isn't falling with much regularity (4 for 15 from the field), but the guy nearly recorded a triple-double, so he deserves some props. Vasquez finished with 11 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists. He was involved in every offensive phase of the game for the Terps, a description he had not garnered in quite some time. He would have had his triple-double, too, had Bowie finished a lay-up in the closing minutes. Vasquez gave him some good-natured ribbing after the miss, but all was well on this night.
1) Three-point shooting. The fans in the student section seated behind press row sometimes can be quite humorous. At one point, after Dave Neal missed a shot from beyond the arc in the fist half, one student bemoaned: "Why on earth are you guys still shooting threes?" The Terps shot 5 for 19 (26.3 percent) from three-point range against Miami. Neal was 1 for 5 from beyond the arc. Vasquez was 1 for 7.
2) Gold uniforms. Yes, the Terps are now 3-0 in the past two seasons wearing their alternate gold jerseys, but as one fan proclaimed as the team came out for pregame warmups, "I hate those jerseys. They're so ugly." I'm guessing Gary and the gang will be as aesthetically unpleasing as possible for the rest of the season if it will continue to translate into wins.
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