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Hayes's persistent patience pays off

Senior guard Eric Hayes insists that he, too, was capable of losing his cool, that he was not impervious to outward emotion, as others have made him out to be. No, he’s never drawn a technical foul, at least not that he can remember. He’s never thrown a tantrum on the court, never vented his frustration for any basketball audience to see.

But he claimed after last night’s game that he can become unraveled at times, in his own discreet way. Following a win over Fairfield in which Hayes steadied the Terrapins offensively during a sluggish first half, Coach Gary Williams lauded Hayes for looking “very calm when things weren’t calm” around him. Calm, it seems, is Hayes’s default setting.

“I try to stay patient and see what the defense is doing,” Hayes said. “I kind of figured it out toward the end (of the first half) that they were switching from 2-3 (zone defense) and once we got the ball and made the first pass, they were matching up, so I was just trying to figure out what they were doing and how I could get into the seems of the defense and get to the basket or find an open spot where I could take an open shot.”

Maryland missed 8 of its first 11 shots and trailed Fairfield more than 10 minutes into the game before embarking on a 15-0 run. Hayes tallied 10 first half points and helped propel the Terrapins en route to a sizable victory.

Patience has been a necessary staple of Hayes’s basketball life over the past year. He was a starter for the first half of last season before being moved to the bench in favor of Sean Mosley. Though Hayes was not pleased by the move, he adjusted and ended up a potent scoring option in reserve down the stretch.

This fall, Hayes sat out roughly two months of workouts after suffering a turf toe injury. He spent a lot of time on stationary bikes and elliptical machines. He could not elevate enough to shoot a jump shot, so anything beyond close range shooting practice was out of the question. He said his conditioning still is not at 100 percent, “but I’m not getting too tired out there.”

But now Hayes is back – on the court and in the starting lineup. He is at his best when he plays aggressively, and yet, that side of him only reveals itself every so often. Hayes said he gets his laid back nature from his father, Kendall, who also carries himself with a quiet demeanor.

Kendall Hayes won 423 games and a state championship during a 21-year stint as the Potomac (Va.) boys’ basketball coach. Last season, he took charge of the Potomac girls’ team on Jan. 29 and led it to an 8-3 finish.

“He's taught me pretty well just to keep it cool out there and not show it if you're frustrated,” Eric Hayes said.

Hayes said he has lost his composure on the court before, though he could not recall any particular instance. He said you can tell when he gets flustered because he’ll start being careless with the ball.

With Maryland trailing by three and just less than 11 minutes remaining in the first half Tuesday night, Hayes overthrew sophomore guard Adrian Bowie on an in-bound pass underneath Maryland’s basket. Fairfield guard Jamal Turner chased it down before being fouled by Bowie on a transition lay-up attempt. He missed both free throws.

Throughout the entire sequence, Hayes’s expression never changed, and his play did not diminish as a result of the miscue. He finished with a game-high 14 points.

“Never,” sophomore guard Sean Mosley said with a wide smile. “I've never seen him lose his composure ever. He's a laid back guy, so I respect that. I never try to do anything out of character to get him out of character. I definitely think Eric is a laid back guy.”

By Steve Yanda  |  November 18, 2009; 10:58 AM ET
Categories:  Men's basketball  
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Next: Cooley's equation for a blowout

Comments

Steve,
Any word on Dino Gregory's suspension? Another 2 games, 4 games, 12 games?

Posted by: paul6554 | November 19, 2009 1:53 PM | Report abuse

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