Dealing With 'An NBA Frontline'
Together, Tyler Hansbrough (6-foot-9, 250 lbs.) and Deon Thompson (6-foot-8, 245 lbs.) form a pretty formidable frontcourt tandem for North Carolina -- one that typically draws some extra attention from opposing defenses.
But according to Gary Williams, Maryland's plan yesterday was not necessarily to double down on either UNC big man, but rather merely to give that impression.
"We didn't double as much," Williams said. "We tried to get a lot of people around him and sometimes faking double teams. If you can make a player feel uncomfortable, you know, with a great player like that you try anything.
"You really worry about double teaming them because of (Danny) Green, (Wayne) Ellington and (Ty) Lawson. Lawson's become a big-time three-point shooter. You can't make a mistake. We did down the stretch there and he just nailed it. So what's your choice? You can double team and leave one of those three open or try to get some help in there, hope he doesn't have a great shooting night, you know, that type of thing."
Indeed, the Terps learned the hard way on Feb. 3 what can happen if Green, Ellington and Lawson are capable of if given open looks from beyond the arc. North Carolina shot 64.0 percent from three-point range against the Terps at Chapel Hill. Maryland could not afford to allow them the same opportunities this time around.
For the most part, Maryland's plan was successful in both regards. The Tar Heels shot just 26.3 percent from three-point range, and Lawson was the only North Carolina player to make more than one shot from from beyond the arc (he was 3 for 6).
As for Hansbrough and Thompson, neither was overly effective. Thompson scored 13 points on 5 of 11 shooting and grabbed seven rebounds. Hansbrough tallied 11 points on 4 of 12 shooting and snatched 11 rebounds. It was a fairly quiet double-double.
North Carolina did outrebound the Terps, 51-40, but that did not take away from Williams' pride in his team's effort down low.
"That's all we could do," Williams said. "We maxed out what we could do. Rebounding-wise, they're pretty good. That's an NBA front line, and we weren't going to get every second shot, third shot. But we jumped, we tried, and that's this team. You just, you do what you can. What can you do? You jump. If you don't get it, you jump again. And then if they get it again you've got to play defense again. We're going to do what we can do."
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