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Terps Fall To Wake Forest, 65-63

Maryland controlled the game for much of the first half by hounding Wake Forest into a rash of turnovers and just plain out-hustling the Demon Deacons to loose balls and open space. But in the second half, the Terps wore down and could not overcome Wake Forest's daunting interior size.

"We got inside a couple of times, but they blocked everything," Gary Williams said. "Every time we got it in there somebody swatted it away. It’s gonna happen. We’re not the biggest team this year, but, you know, you compete. A couple times down there I thought we could have had the ball defensively where we gave them a second shot and they scored. In a game that close, they’re big plays."

Three Up:

1) Dave Neal. The senior forward had a huge second half for the Terps. During a two-minute span midway through the second half, Neal drained three three-pointers. He finished with a team-high 19 points and six rebounds. His night was nearly complete, with the contest's result being the only disappointment.

"When I got hot there I thought we were definitely going to pull this one out," Neal said. "But Wake Forest, being the No. 10 team in the country, stayed extremely composed. They never quit, and that’s what makes them a great team. They had some huge plays there at the end that kind of kept them going."

2) Greivis Vasquez. What Neal did for the Terps in the second half, Vasquez did for the team in the first. Vasquez scored 11 of his 16 points before the break. Assuming primary ball-handling duties, Vasquez directed a Terps offense that, in the first half, was precise and dynamic. Wake Forest was caught flat-footed on several occassions and often could not keep up with the Terps.

3) Grittiness. This team has it. They don't look pretty. They often don't play pretty. But against the No. 10 team in the nation, the fourth ranked opponent the Terps have played in their past five games, Maryland played with a desire that is admirable, if nothing else.

Three Down:

1) Rebounding. According to Neal, Williams told his players right before tip-off that this area would be a struggle. Wake Forest, with three starters standing 6-foot-9 or taller, could be dominant in the post. Maryland, an undersized unit to say the least, had to withstand the Demon Deacons' force. The Terps did so as long as they could, but in the end, Wake's rebounding edge (50-32 at game's end) keyed its triumph.

"We were undersized and we knew that," Neal said. "Coach Williams said at the beginning of the game, 'It’s going to be a rebounding battle. It’s going to have to be a team effort on the rebounding end.' They did an extremely good job exploiting our weakness. They were relentless on the boards. That’s what they do. They take some tough shots, but they know they’ve got three huge guys coming down the middle of the lane, trying to funnel the ball back into the rim."

2) Crucial second half blocks. This also points to Wake's size advantage, but whether it was Neal or Sean Mosley, the Terps discovered that wandering into the post was not a safe venture in the second half. The Demon Deacons tallied 10 blocks on the night, six in the second half.

3) Second half shooting. Maryland struggled to adapt to Wake's 1-3-1 zone defense. Williams said the team anticipated Wake would use the scheme, but it's difficult to simulate the athleticism of 6-foot-9 forward Al-Farouq Aminu at the top of such a zone during practice. The Terps shot 34.3 percent from the field and 35.7 percent from three-point range after the intermission.

By Steve Yanda  |  March 4, 2009; 12:35 AM ET
Categories:  Men's basketball  
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Next: Wake's 1-3-1 Zone Defense Causes Terps Headaches


WF's rebounding and blocks were huge problems, but that was a given. What surprised me was that Gary/team got into too much of a run game with WF in the 2d half, and WF is probably the best transition team in the country. Greivis and Eric Hayes also went cold in the 2d half as well. WF has way more talent. Gary needs to learn how to recruit.

Posted by: BulletsFan1 | March 4, 2009 12:59 AM | Report abuse

Only got to see the second half, so I missed the good part. Still, it was a very credible effort against a very talented team -- in some ways, more talented than Duke.

That's the thing about a size advantage, it tends to show more as the game goes on.

You get the sense the coaches are really proud of this team. Despite all the obvious flaws, they don't quit.

At the start of this last push, I thought the UVA game might be the most important. The NC State win has made that less true, but it would still be a huge feather in the Terps cap to have those two road wins as well as respectable performances against top ten teams at home.

Right now, who does it look like they will draw in the ACC tournament?

Posted by: Samson151 | March 4, 2009 3:30 AM | Report abuse

that's about as respectable as a loss gets. even though a win would have helped immensely, going down like that shouldn't kill their chances. wake's size really forced us out of our game - 10 blocks and at least a handful of rushed or altered shots. at one point milbourne (i think it was) had an open one step dunk move and backed off, that's just intimidation.

still, if they beat uva and win at least one acc tournament game i believe they're in the big dance.

btw - you could make a very good case that if strawberry doesn't get hurt and mccray stays in school, two flukes, we make the ncaas two more years. the bit about missing the tournament 4 of 5 years is misleading about the state of the team. gary's had great success with his no-name talent, so i'm willing to let the hall of fame coach run his own program his way.

now where's that koolaid....?

Posted by: rm0659 | March 4, 2009 4:17 AM | Report abuse

rmo659:"gary's had great success with his no-name talent, so i'm willing to let the hall of fame coach run his own program his way."

He has done an excellent job coaxing wins out of less talented clubs (like last season). The question is purely about the current staff's ability to recruit the talent.

Posted by: Samson151 | March 4, 2009 4:55 AM | Report abuse

that's interesting. the question i've been hearing has been why hasn't gary been able to land the top notch, one or two years of college then off to the pros talent like rudy gay. instead maryland keeps signing kids who end up one win short of making it to the big dance, and whining like these are bob wade caliber teams.

Posted by: rm0659 | March 4, 2009 6:26 AM | Report abuse

FACT: Gary Williams won a National Championship without a single All American on his roster.

FACT: Gary Williams landed back to back top 5 recruiting classes immediately after the National Championship, which led to back to back NITs.

FACT: Gary Williams does better with less heralded recruits (Juan Dixon, Lonnie Baxter, DJ Strawberry) than he does with All Americans (Danny Miller, Travis Garrison, Mike Jones, Ekene Ibekwe)

FACT: Those that b*tch on this blog about Gary Williams recruiting fail to realize the above 3 facts

Posted by: Barno1 | March 4, 2009 7:09 AM | Report abuse

btw - you could make a very good case that if strawberry doesn't get hurt and mccray stays in school, two flukes, we make the ncaas two more years. the bit about missing the tournament 4 of 5 years is misleading about the state of the team. gary's had great success with his no-name talent, so i'm willing to let the hall of fame coach run his own program his way.

now where's that koolaid....?

Posted by: rm0659 | March 4, 2009 4:17 AM


I was thinking something similar last night. Even when we went to the NIT we had 18 and 19 win seasons. Literally just 2 more wins (maybe 3) would have gotten us two more tourney bids. Syracuse has been in a similar situation in recent years. They've been on the very edge of the bubble and just missed it.

Posted by: M__N | March 4, 2009 8:41 AM | Report abuse

10 to 1 blocked shot to blocking foul ratio. I would wager that is the greatest shot blocking without getting called for fouls game in the history of college or professional basketball. And the Terps only lost by 2. Tough tough loss but if they beat UVA on Saturday and NCState next weekend, the Terps will dance. The way they have played for the last 4 weeks they should win both those games. Let's hope they do it...

Posted by: Lee26 | March 4, 2009 9:06 AM | Report abuse

For the last 6 years (since 2004), Gary has not had a top 25 recruiting class. According to some on this blog, that's what Gary wants because Gary wins with non-heralded recruits. WHY THEN HAS MD LOST 12+ GAMES/YR EVER SINCE? If that's your definition of success, go root for NC State. Newsflash - you need recruits to get in the NCAA Tourney. Gary ain't gettin' it done w/recruits and that's why MD is a perennial NIT team.

Posted by: BulletsFan1 | March 4, 2009 9:16 AM | Report abuse

"For the last 6 years (since 2004), Gary has not had a top 25 recruiting class. "


The Hayes, Vasquez, Milbourne class was #19 in the country.

That is all.

Posted by: Lee26 | March 4, 2009 9:58 AM | Report abuse

when you add in the year that john gilchrist basically lost his mind with delusions of nba grandeur, that's yet another 19-win nit year. it's not like the program is falling apart, they've just had some misfortune with the players who were already recruited.

it's true that maryland doesn't have the luxury of having a bench full of high school all-americans like carolina and duke. never have, probably never will. that doesn't make gary a failure as a recruiter, since he's typically looking for a different sort of player. usually that's been a winning formula for him.

fans here are so spoiled by the long run of ncaa bids that they forget how hard it is to make the tournament every single year.

and best not wish for gary williams to move along anytime soon. if history is any guide, the next coach will be good for two or three dismal years before we hit on the next great one. you can look it up!

Posted by: rm0659 | March 4, 2009 10:11 AM | Report abuse

It sounds like everyone believes that Terp fans should be pleased that the team has done as well as they have with mediocre talent. Its almost as if you think Gary wants to make it harder on himself by bringing in lower level recruits because he enjoys the challenge of coaching them up. That argument seems extremely flawed. Hasn't UMD basketball come to expect more than 19 win teams that barely miss the tournament? Do you really think that Gary's goal is to bring in average players that may have a shot of making the tourney? Gary may not want to get involved with AAU coaches and blur the recruiting lines but to think that he doesn't want to bring in better recruits is ridiculous. The people taking it one step further and saying that people should be happy with 19 win seasons and almost making the tourney are even more ridiculous.

Posted by: SkinsFan991 | March 4, 2009 10:25 AM | Report abuse

It's Gary's birthday. Hope he enjoys it. Not the time to rip him. But also never the time to drink the Koolaid.

Posted by: petecard | March 4, 2009 11:39 AM | Report abuse

It's always a good time to rip Barno's idiotic comments. Let's stop recruiting, Barno, and only fill the team with walkk-ons.

I think SkinsFans makes some really excellent points.

Posted by: petecard | March 4, 2009 11:43 AM | Report abuse

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