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."
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