Benefits Of The Zone 'D'
For most of the second half against Miami last night, Maryland operated in zone defensive schemes. For the first 15 minutes after the intermission, the Terps utilized a 3-2 scheme that has proven quite effective during the rare times it has been run this season. The Hurricanes, who shot 45.8 percent from the field in the first half, shot just 37.1 percent after the break.
"We went to the zone late in the first half with the idea that we would see how it would work, because with (Miami guard Jack) McClinton out there and a shooter like (Miami forward Adrian) Thomas, you’re worried that somebody will get hot, but we covered pretty well," Gary Williams said. "They made some, but it was worth it."
With about five minutes to go in the game and Miami still hanging around, thoughts of Jan. 14 danced in Williams's head. On that date, McClinton ruined a would-be victory for the Terps by launching three-pointers from the parking lot that somehow found their way into the basket. With the Canes in striking distance, Williams instructed his players to switch to a box-and-one scheme, in which four Maryland defenders reamained in a zone around the lane, while one defender (for the most part, sophomore guard Adrian Bowie) shadowed McClinton wherever he went.
This decision led to the quote of the night, courtesy senior forward Dave Neal.
Williams "made some crucial calls tonight, going box-and-one," Neal said. "I think it really took McClinton out of his game in the last five minutes. It takes balls to make calls like that, and he made that call. He had faith in our team to play defense, and he did a great job of making calls down that stretch."
The zone defensive schemes certainly seemed to fluster Miami at times. Bowie said the zone looks confused the Canes because the Terps had not run any of them during the previous meeting.
Junior forward Landon Milbourne said operating in a zone defense helped Maryland's undersized post players remain closer to the basket and, therefore, able to respond faster when a rebound came up for grabs. Facing a much bigger frontcourt, Maryland was out-rebounded by only three boards, 41-38.
"Miami’s good because they can come up with the ball," Williams said. "In other words, you think you’re free and all of the sudden it’s a blocked shot, they get their hands on a couple of balls you don’t think they’re going to get and it can be tough. But our inside guys, I don’t know what they did points-wise, but competing defensively and rebounding. A lot of times you don’t get a rebound, but if you just get in the way of somebody, somebody else can get us for us. I think that happened a lot tonight."
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