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Terps already missing Dave Neal

Well, that didn't take long, did it? You all remember Dave Neal, of course. He was the undersize, sweet-shooting forward with a YMCA-style game who played a significant role in leading Maryland to its NCAA berth last season.

Neal has moved overseas in search of a continued playing career and a master's degree, but that doesn't mean he's been forgotten around these parts. Just ask Maryland Coach Gary Williams, who reminisced following Tuesday night's exhibition win over Indiana (Pa.) about some of the things Neal brought to the table.

"It takes a long time to become a good defensive team," Williams said. "We had a guy last year, Dave Neal, that was outstanding at playing team defense, you know, the way he could anticipate a pass or see where to help. I think we might have felt that a little bit tonight, but we’ll get that. We have an opportunity to be a better defensive team this year. We have better athletic ability and some things that are better. You know, I think we can do that."

Help-side defense appeared to be the main point of contention for Williams and his players after their performance against Indiana (Pa.). The Crimson Hawks got too many open looks after breakdowns in Maryland defensive assignments were exacerbated by players not coming to each other's aid.

"We didn’t help our teammates," senior guard Greivis Vasquez said. "We didn’t stay between the ball and the basket. Sometimes some guys didn’t play good defense, and we didn’t help. And that’s where the other guys got second chances."

The Terrapins were fortunate in that IUP did not take full advantage of such second-chance opportunities (the Crimson Hawks shot 36.5 percent).

To be fair, Maryland's defensive pressure at times was sufficient. The Terrapins tallied 12 steals and forced IUP into 20 turnovers. But there were recurring threads that appeared throughout the game that were not as encouraging.

Junior guard Adrian Bowie attributed Maryland's defensive deficiencies, in part, to a lack of effort. Senior forward Landon Milbourne offered a more detailed explanation.

"We just need to be more aggressive," Milbourne said. "It felt like we were laying back and letting them pick us apart as far as getting passes and cuts to the baskets. They got some easy layups. We didn’t really block any shots tonight. We didn’t really get that many defensive boards. They beat us on the offensive boards. We just got to get a lot tougher. We’ve got to get that back from last year. We know we had that last year. We just got to get back to that point and find out what we have to do to get there."

By Steve Yanda  |  November 4, 2009; 11:15 AM ET
Categories:  Men's basketball  
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Seriously, weren't there enough of the "YMCA style"-type comments last season? It's obvious from the rest of the post that he made an impact and was successful in the ACC, so why keep demeaning his game? Every announcer last year threw in a YMCA or a "workman-like" or "blue collar" critique. I honestly don't even understand what these mean. He plays like a young man or an electrician? Now that he's graduated, stop repeating the same tired line.

Posted by: spret07 | November 4, 2009 4:33 PM | Report abuse

Right on Spret07. I'm tired of the racist remarks regarding Dave Neal. This is so 2009- we're livin' in a post-racial world these days

Posted by: asnis715 | November 4, 2009 4:57 PM | Report abuse

Actually spret07, I think it's a badge of honor. Most Terrapin fans think it's great that a guy without a lot of hype and pizzazz can go out and make a respectable showing in a marquee league like the ACC.

When you have highly touted athletes who can jump out of the gym, and one lone guy who can somehow make a mockery of their circus act, you want to point out to those prima donna's that they got beat by some scruffy, flat-footed workhorse who would rather plant his a$$ in the gym than on some agent's pucker.

I think YMCA should be his middle name.

Posted by: mabkhar | November 4, 2009 4:58 PM | Report abuse

Dave Neal was one of the best stories from last year. Hope he makes it to the Euro pros which have a ton of Terp alumni. He was an enjoyable player to watch who always played the game intelligently.

Posted by: HughGRection | November 4, 2009 5:40 PM | Report abuse

I think a better analogy would be "heart". Dave Neal was a player who played with heart every game, rather than some of the guys with "talent" who played well below expectations. He led by example.

Posted by: ecglotfelty | November 5, 2009 10:30 AM | Report abuse

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