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Dealing With 'The Gretzky'

Clemson Coach Oliver Purnell admitted he was worried about the precarious position in which his team entered last night's game. The Tigers had just come off a disappointing overtime loss at Virginia, while their opponent, Maryland, had won three of its last four games.

And despite the fact the Tigers executed well in the first half, they led by only six, which was further cause for concern for Purnell. "That's a recipe for going on someone's home court and winning," he said.

But Clemson's persistent inside-and-out attack eventually wore on the Terps, and Tigers forward Trevor Booker played a crucial role in that regard. Booker (6-foot-7, 240 pounds) was able to help establish a strong post presence for Clemson early and then keenly fended off double-team attention as the game progressed.

Booker forcefully backed down Landon Milbourne before turning for a lay-in to tally Clemson's first points of the night. He shook his head after the ball went in, as if to foreshadow how little luck the Terps would have at stopping him the rest of the game. He finished with 11 points, 14 rebounds and three assists.

"They've got to decide how they're going to double on (Booker)," Purnell said. "They can come across big-to-big, and then you've got to do a good job finding your runningmate in the frontcourt. If they come off a guard like they were early, then you've got to do a good job either of picking out the wide open guy or the guy who can make the pass to the open guy. And I thought (Booker) was really good at that. He was kind of the initiator. Even if he didn't have the assist, he had what we call 'the Gretzky' -- the ball that went to the guy who made the assist. He did a good job of recognizing where the trap was coming from."

Maryland, though, has had some success this season dealing with bigger and taller opposing frontcourts. Though undersized, the Terps big men unit of Dave Neal, Landon Milbourne and Dino Gregory in the past were able to use guile and quickness to negate their lack of height and brawn. They were aided in that regard by Maryland perimeter defenders, who provided help defense down low.

"We've beaten teams with size and athleticism before this year," Williams said. "They have a very good team. They deserve to be ranked where they are. And we knew that coming in. In the first half, we were able to play a little better and that size and athleticism didn't get us. It got us in the second half, but how much of that is our doing, by not doing what we're supposed to be doing, contributed to it."

Indeed, the Terps out-rebounded Clemson by one in the first half and ended the night losing the battle of the boards by a limited margin, 37-33. It was having to deal with a Clemson offense that saw the court well and passed the ball effectively -- not just along the perimeter, but in and out of the post -- that caused Maryland considerable problems.

While the Terps struggled mightily to adjust to Clemson's intense ball pressure and defensive quickness, the Tigers were able to exploit Maryland's most apparent weakness (lack of interior size) and turn it into two problems. Clemson shot 46.2 percent from three-point range on the night.

"That was Clemson offense, half-court offense," Purnell said. "They were doubling (Trevor Booker) down, and he was doing an outstanding job of finding people. I think he only took five or six shots on the game, but he set up so many other guys. Teams are going to double like that, and if we're making shots, it could be a long night for them. Because we have an ability to go on a tear from the outside."

By Steve Yanda  |  February 18, 2009; 10:31 AM ET
Categories:  Men's basketball  
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Comments

Steve,

I thought, for one of the "negative guys back at Maryland," that your lead article on the game was very good.

As reality sets in on an awful season, Gary and the boys are going to be attacking everyone who is upset at the state of the Maryland basketball program.

But, there is always next year. Just think, if Gary is right, we could be a Top 25 team next year.

Wow!!!!

Posted by: petecard | February 18, 2009 11:20 AM | Report abuse

We are so bad. how anyone thinks we have a chance to make the ncaa tourney is beyond me. I felt like i used to feel watching md play some joke at the beginning of the season. It was a complete mismatch, and just because we stayed in it for the first doesnt mean anything. All you had to do was watch the frontcourt play. we are terrible. 5-11, 6-10 best case scenario

Posted by: tonytroese | February 18, 2009 10:24 AM

C'mon all of you FOG's, let's hear about how the Terps are still going to get to 8-8 and then win one or two in the ACC.

Don't bother to make your MSG reservations. They won't get that far in the NIT.

Posted by: petecard | February 18, 2009 11:05 AM

Thank God our players and coaches don't quit as easily as some "fans" do. PeteCard, RestonHoops, Iamaterpsfan, Tonytroese, etc. aren't really fans--though they REALLY want us to believe they are. No, a real fan does not throw in the towel when their team is still alive in the hunt for an NCAA bid. But keep telling yourselves that you're Terps fans, I'm sure eventually someone will believe you.

Posted by: Barno1 | February 18, 2009 11:46 AM | Report abuse

how can you say people aren't real fans when they root for a group of guys who aren't even a real team. it's laughable to think that anyone who watches terps games thinks that this team is of the same caliber as the rest of the league.They don't have the pieces (players) to compete in the acc right now. they lost to morgan state at home, and i'f i'm not a fan i don't know why i watched the entire debacle. Gary's time is up, the program seems stale, they need new energy.

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | February 18, 2009 12:52 PM | Report abuse

They're not of the same caliber of the rest of the league?!? Well, they're currently 8th in the ACC, and only a game and a half out of 4th. This is clearly a team that can compete in the league, and with the two bigs they are getting next year, should be much, much better. But I forgot, the sky is falling, the sky is falling. MD played VERY well at UNC, they just caught them on a night when the heels hit everything they threw up. They will beat either Duke, UNC, or Wake at home. This team will be in the hunt for an NCAA berth up to the ACC tourney. Don't count 'em out yet...

Posted by: CYork1 | February 18, 2009 1:24 PM | Report abuse

it's laughable to think that anyone who watches terps games thinks that this team is of the same caliber as the rest of the league

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | February 18, 2009 12:52 PM

newsflash: this team is 5-6, and over the past 6 years only UNC and Duke have a better conference record than Maryland. It's not laughable to suggest we are the same caliber as the rest of the league, it's laughable that you actually believe you're a fan when you're not.

let me take one guess as to how many games you have attended this year: Zero. How did I know?

Posted by: Barno1 | February 18, 2009 1:34 PM | Report abuse

I'd much rather finish in the middle of the pack in the ACC with an undersized, over-achieving team than near the bottom of the Big East with a under-achieving team that was once ranked in the top 10.

I certainly would not call this an "awful" season. It's not one of Gary's best, but considering what he's given himself to work with, the team has met expectations.

Posted by: Russtinator | February 18, 2009 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Barno,

Are you the towel guy that gives drinks to the guys on the bench?

Does your dad dry clean Gary's suits?

Those are two possible explanations for your idiotic commentary.

Posted by: petecard | February 18, 2009 2:23 PM | Report abuse

I'm amazed at what people are willing to accept as ok. We've gotten beaten like a drum twice already in conference. We are not making the tournament this year. Keeping checking ESPN every day to see if we ever make it off the "bubble". So that will be 4 out of 5 years FOGs. Please tell me what program that considers itself even a top 50 program that went 4 out of 5 years missing the dance without a coaching change.

Posted by: restonhoops | February 18, 2009 2:24 PM | Report abuse

For all the people suggesting Gary be fired, please, enlighten us -- who should be brought in to replace him?

Posted by: CYork1 | February 18, 2009 2:33 PM | Report abuse

And by the way, Duke lost by 27 at Clemson, and it wasn't even that close. I guess everyone in Durham should be calling for Coach K's head, right?

Posted by: CYork1 | February 18, 2009 2:34 PM | Report abuse

I've always wondered why Gary doesn't endorse a dry cleaner. It would seem like a win-win - free publicity for the dry cleaner, and defrayment of a huge bill for the athletic department.

Posted by: Lindemann777 | February 18, 2009 2:34 PM | Report abuse

Stop thinking that "fans" who complain don't attend the games. I go to every game and stay until the very end -- win or lose. Have done that for almost 20 years. So I am a fan and have spent a lot of money to be able to see those games.

So here's my "fan" point of view. This is not a great team as Gary states. They are in the bottom rungs of the ACC ladder -- and not because the team has lost a star or two early to the NBA. It's because Gary hasn't recruited well over the past few years. I think we've heard enough of this topic -- it is what it is.

I don't have a problem with a loss to a better team, but as a "fan" I am embarassed by the quality of some of our losses. When was the last time a MD team lost games by 22, 27, 29, and 41 in the same season?? This is an ugly season and no amount of posturing from Gary will change that. We're NIT bound -- but I will bet my season tickets that Gary is already thinking a 7-9 season will get him in and he will start making comments about how tough the league is this year and how a 7-9 record should qualify for the NCAA's.

Posted by: Terp77 | February 18, 2009 2:37 PM | Report abuse

This is not a great team as Gary states.

Posted by: Terp77 | February 18, 2009 2:37 PM

Please direct us to the quote where Gary states this is a "great team." Since he never said this, you'll be looking for a while.

Posted by: Barno1 | February 18, 2009 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Please tell me what program that considers itself even a top 50 program that went 4 out of 5 years missing the dance without a coaching change.

Posted by: restonhoops | February 18, 2009 2:24 PM

Please tell me what coach that has won a national championship, been to 2 final fours, been to the NCAA tournament in 12 out of the previous 15 years, and never been accused of violating a single NCAA rule, has been fired?

Please name one.

Posted by: Barno1 | February 18, 2009 3:25 PM | Report abuse

It's because Gary hasn't recruited well over the past few years.

Posted by: Terp77 | February 18, 2009 2:37 PM

We have had THREE (3) top 20 classes in the last 6 years, including TWO (2) top 5. The other 3 years we had too few players coming in to be considered a top notch class, though the '04 class that included just James Gist was certainly a good class.

Your arguments are just laughable.

Posted by: Barno1 | February 18, 2009 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Barno -- I didn't find the "great team" quote, but in today's Post he is quoted as stating that "this is a good team". OK, they may be good, but compared to what? They didn't look very good last night.

Your allegiance to Gary is commendable, we all need die hard fans. However, you've got to realize that there may be other fans out there who look at the Terps without rose-colored glasses and see a program in decline -- and we have our opinions too.

Posted by: Terp77 | February 18, 2009 3:40 PM | Report abuse

OK, now you are getting laughable. If you truly believe that we have had excellent recruiting (3 top 20 in the last 6 years), then I guess the results we see are not the result of poor recruiting, but poor coaching. You can't have it both ways.

If we had Top 20 recruiting classes, how come the team rarely lands in the Top 20??

Posted by: Terp77 | February 18, 2009 3:43 PM | Report abuse

OK, now you are getting laughable. If you truly believe that we have had excellent recruiting (3 top 20 in the last 6 years), then I guess the results we see are not the result of poor recruiting, but poor coaching. You can't have it both ways.

If we had Top 20 recruiting classes, how come the team rarely lands in the Top 20??

Posted by: Terp77 | February 18, 2009 3:43 PM

77,

When the 03/04 class were freshman, and the highly touted class ahead of them were sophomores, we won the ACC championship.

When the 03/04 class were seniors, w won the 6th most games in Maryland history.

You might recall the 2 years in between we lost our best player and our leading scorer respectively, and still managed to win 19 games each year.

Posted by: Barno1 | February 18, 2009 4:55 PM | Report abuse

Barno needs his own blog so that the FOG's can go there.

It would save us from having to read his blather.

No problem with his point of view...he is entitled to it. But he just won't let it go...

Posted by: petecard | February 18, 2009 5:34 PM | Report abuse

Barno have you heard of Nolan Richardson, Denny Crum?

Posted by: restonhoops | February 19, 2009 11:01 AM | Report abuse

Hey reston, how's mason doing? As down as MD is they would RUN the CAA.

Posted by: Lee26 | February 19, 2009 3:16 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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