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Neal: Zone Offense 'Could Use A Little Work'

Late in the first half of yesterday's loss at Virginia, the Cavaliers switched from man-to-man to zone defense. The adjustment ended up being a crucial turning point in the game.

To that point, Maryland hadn't necessarily been lighting up the scoreboard, but the Terps had found a rhythm and many open looks on offense. Their flex cuts and precise passing generated a crisp tempo with which the Cavs could not keep up.

But after Virginia switched to zone, Maryland's offensive fluidity quickly coagulated. Drives to the basket were less frequently taken, and those interior passes were more difficult to direct.

But Gary Williams suggested that it wasn't so much the Cavs forcing Maryland into mistakes. Rather, it was "us stopping our offense."

The Terps tallied just nine turnovers on the night, while Virginia recorded 18. Maryland collected seven steals; the Cavs picked up three. Defensively, Maryland always seemed to be putting more pressure on Virginia (by way of half- and full-court presses after made baskets) and often were rewarded for such tactics.

But when Maryland settled into its half-court offense, it couldn't find a way to break down Virginia's patient zone defense. Greivis Vasquez said it was a matter of the Terps slowing down too much. Williams said his team stopped attacking the basket with the same intensity and frequency that it did early on.

Williams also noted Maryland began settling for jump shots far too quickly in the shot clock. Unwilling to get the ball into the post one way or another, the Terps had little other choice. Maryland attempted 66 shots on the night, connecting on 40.9 percent of them. The Terps shot 5 of 22 from three-point range.

There were a few players whose shots were falling. Landon Milbourne shot 5 for 11 and finished with 10 points. Dave Neal scored 15 points on 6 of 12 shooting.

But there were other Terps who were not as efficient. Greivis Vasquez shot 8 for 20 from the field (1 for 6 from three-point range) and ended up with 21 points. Eric Hayes tallied seven points on 3 for 10 shooting (1 for 7 from three-point range).

"We just got to look at the tape because I know the whole entire ACC tournament, people are going to be playing us zone," Neal said. "They see that our man offense is very good but our zone offense could use a little work."

By Steve Yanda  |  March 8, 2009; 11:18 AM ET
Categories:  Men's basketball  
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Can anybody please tell me why Vasquez tried to take the ball straight to the basket when we needed a 3-pointer to tie the game with almost no time left?!!!

Not that we have anybody who could sink the 3 with consistency, but we at least should have tried. This is the type of stupid self-centered play I typically see in youth leagues.

Posted by: skinsfan11 | March 8, 2009 1:50 PM | Report abuse

Why didn't Gary call a timeout to set up a 3-point shot with 18 secs left? Clearly the play broke down, and the differential on the shot clock and game clock was only 3 seconds, so he really did not need to save it. Meanwhile, he wasted TOs during the 2d half because he was angry. Re the rebound differential, he played Mosley way too much, and Dino way too little. Gary COACHED POORLY with his job in the balance.

Posted by: BulletsFan1 | March 8, 2009 7:59 PM | Report abuse

what scares me is the zone defense altogether...

every time we go into a zone defense we seem to be somewhat effecive as long as the other team misses their open 3s...and it seems to be a nice change of pace to confuse opposing offenses...seem to do it in the second half and it keeps things in check...but looks ugly and like we are lucky...and should switch back to man to end the game...but i dont think we do or if we do its too late...

but more switching...

seems like teams do it to us...and are more flexible and switch multiple times in a game...

case in point...uva switching on the last play of the game...

Posted by: deadskin | March 9, 2009 3:39 PM | Report abuse

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