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Terps Rebound for 84-78 win over Virginia

And exhale. Once again, Maryland built an impressive lead over an ACC opponent and then nearly watched it slip away. The difference tonight was the word "nearly," and these days, that's called "growth" in College Park. The Terps did the little things tonight that made the difference between another harrowing loss and a much-needed win.

"The thing we did tonight, we stayed aggressive," Gary Williams said. "Once they got close, we ran four straight aggressive plays where we took it to the basket. We hadn’t been getting to the free throw line, and once we did, we were okay."

Three Up:

1) Adrian Bowie. The sophomore guard's hot streak continues. He scored 17 points on 6 of 11 shooting and -- this might be the most encouraging part for the Terps -- he didn't foul out. Bowie's ferocious drives to the lane set the tone early for Maryland on offense tonight. On several occassions, it appeared as though he was trying to leap over Virginia's 7-foot-0 center, Assane Sene. He was unsuccessful in that regard, but he did make several trips to the free throw line, which had to have pleased Williams. With Greivis Vasquez's shot still not quite as smooth as usual, the Terps certainly welcome Bowie offensive emergence.

2) Free throws, free throws, free throws. Maryland attempted zero (zero!) free throws in the first half Saturday against Florida State. The Terps are one of the best free-throw shooting teams in the country. Yet, entering last night's game, they seemed reluctant to show off that talent. But against the Cavaliers, Maryland was more aggressive than it has been in quite some time. The Terps sank 21 of 24 free throws (87.5 percent). Down the stretch, Virginia was forced to fould Maryland on each of its possessions to stop the clock. But that played right into one of the Terps' biggest strengths.

3) Eric Hayes. From reading the comments on this blog, it is clear Hayes does not have a legion of supporters. Player most frequently mentioned by readers as the one they wish would be replaced in the starting lineup? That would be Hayes. And I'm really not sure why. No, he's not consistently aggressive in his shot-taking. But, for the most part, he makes solid decisions on the court. Better yet, he doesn't typically make bone-headed decisions on the court. Tonight, he finished with 11 assists and no turnovers. That's not too shabby.

Three Down:

1) Little help on the boards. Williams said postgame that his team needs to provide more help for Landon Milbourne in the rebounding department. Milbourne led the team with five rebounds. It didn't help that Dave Neal missed a good chunk of the game with a cut over his left eye, but still, Williams would like to see another post player provide Milbourne -- and the team -- some rebounding support. Virginia out-rebounded Maryland, 35-25, on the night.

2) Bench play. It wasn't so much that Maryland's bench played all that poorly. Rather, Virginia's bench was darn near unstoppable. Cavaliers reserve forward Jamil Tucker scored a game-high 21 points in 26 minutes of action. Reserve guard Calvin Baker scored 16 points. Meantime, the most point production Maryland got out of a backup player was eight from Dino Gregory. Like I said, the Terps' reserves did not play poorly, but when the other team's bench scores 42 and yours only scores 16 ...

3) Near-collapse in the second half. Again, "near" is the operative word. This very easily could have been a replay of the Miami game. But the Terps avoided such a meltdown by remaining aggressive on both ends of the court. They survived. They conquered. As Williams said, they were due.

By Steve Yanda  |  January 20, 2009; 11:18 PM ET
Categories:  Men's basketball  
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Next: Finally, Some Free Throws

Comments

Perhaps ONE reason people are down on Hayes are the stupid comments he made about playing on the road.

Posted by: petecard | January 21, 2009 8:16 AM | Report abuse

I agree with you on Eric Hayes. I think he lost a lot of confidence when Gary moved him from the point to wing early in his career. It has taken him awhile to get it back. He is still the best point when they need to play with set plays but is not at his best in the "run and gun". He just brings a needed steady influence when he is running the show.

Posted by: miketerp1 | January 21, 2009 10:06 AM | Report abuse

How bout #1 down:

THE CROWD. As someone who has been going to MD games for over 20 years now, the crowd/lack there of was pathetic. I know students are not in session yet, so I won't bother mentioning the lack of presence there, but the number of empty seats last night was disturbing. A guy sitting around me was talking about wanting to leave early when the game headed into the final TV timeout & I asked him who he was trying to beat cause no one was there. He chuckled, agreed, then got the look of someone whose dog had been hit by a car as he realized what I said was absolutely true.

A few years ago the promise of this team and program was extremely high. Now the fact that the only promise we had last night was the hope of a return to the game for Dave Neal speaks a lot to the downfall of this program. Not to knock Neal as he's been pivotal to the success of this team, but this is a guy who should be getting Grinnonesque cheers from the crowd when making appearances at the end of a game.

MD fans (who I'll admit can be fairweather) are tired of watching teams at the top of the rankings win with local talent while the Terps dabble in mediocrity. Not sure if thats on Gary and his staff or Debbie Yow and the admittance group but something needs to change. Not sure what needs to happen, whether it be a coaching change, an AD change, or both, but this program is on life support and something big needs to happen.

Posted by: KHTerpSkinfan | January 21, 2009 10:34 AM | Report abuse

This team performs so much better when Vasquez plays within the offensive scheme instead of becoming the offensive scheme.

Gary should limit him to 10 shots a game.

Posted by: imterpsfan2 | January 21, 2009 10:44 AM | Report abuse

Eric Hayes is a treasure. The incessant carping from the unreasonable wing of Terp supporters has affected Hayes' confidence. Give the guy a break and watch him turn it on.

Regarding recruiting, Coach Williams' strategy is probably the best one. Today's premier athletes tend to be spoiled and selfish. UMd isn't the most agreeable campus and College Park is the pits. It remains true that the university is second or third choice for qualified applicants. It's easy to see why many regional candidates choose other institutions. Sorry folks, but it's the hard truth. I love the place, but consider how that first exposure to UMd looked.

Posted by: AncientTerp | January 21, 2009 11:17 AM | Report abuse

The only thing that bothers me about Hayes's game is that he is consistently a step too slow on D and 9 out of 10 threes that are made against MD are by the guy he is/should be gaurding (including both game winners last week).

As for the crowd... there was this little thing called the inauguration of the first Afican American President last night that was kind of the biggest thing in DC since I have been alive (ok maybe 9/11 was bigger but not in a good way) and I'm almost 30 so that probably had somehting to do with it. Why there was a game last night is beyond me honestly. Stupid scheduling.

Good win the Terps desperately needed though. Now it's Duke time. Could this be the shocker the Terps always seem to pull off to get everyone super excited this time of year?

Posted by: Lee26 | January 21, 2009 1:49 PM | Report abuse

I think the inauguration kept people away last night. UMD sent out an e-mail advising fans that most of the normal avenues (such as Route 1) would be tough going. We were thinking about purchasing tickets, but that warning was enough to keep us (and probably others) away. I think if the game had been on any other night, there would have been less empty seats.

Posted by: gburggal | January 21, 2009 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Let's take these in order:
1. Game: good win because it's on your home court and one of those games we should win. Almost looked like they might slip ala Miami game, but kept up enough to pull it out.
2. Nice to see Bowie stay in the game for a change. The Terps will need him more on the floor as the season progresses.
3. Crowd: given the circumstances with the inauguration, plus the semester not yet started, plus it's just UVA, and it's not that surprising that a lot of fans decided to stay away. I'm an alum, but I'll be the first to admit that many Terp fans are notoriously fairweather fans; been that way even before I went to school there.
4. Recruiting: You recruit for what you need, not what will get the fans in the seats. Juan Dixon and Steve Blake were not highly recruited coming out of high school. While Carmelo and Durant made waves in college b-ball, they only stayed one year. Just because you recruit a lot of McD's All-Americans doesn't gurantee you a championship. Duke gets all these blue chippers, but they've won only one title this decade (ironically, the same number MD has). I would like to see the team find a genuine big man in the middle.

Posted by: ecglotfelty | January 21, 2009 3:00 PM | Report abuse

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